By Lou Marzeles

Goldendale School District's financial peril by the numbers


November 28, 2018

This is a continuation of a story last week on the budgetary constrictions facing the Goldendale School District.

In a budget document prepared for the Goldendale School District (GSD), GSD Business Manager Dean Schlenker offered a series of charts dramatically visualizing the district's financial distress. Some of them are shown below, reflecting expenditures projected by program and expenditures by object.

Schlenker summarized the district's condition:

"The problem the McClearly Act created for Goldendale," he wrote in his report, "is it took approximately $1.1 million in levy flexibility and reallocated those funds to pay for raises and categorical funds (LAP and CTE [Learning Assistance Programs and Career Technology Education]). For 2017-18 there were 23.62 FTE [full-time employee] positions not funded through the State's Basic Education Funding Formula. The levy is what supported these positions."

The district, like many in the state, is the victim of the legislature's swap of levy dollars for state-directed funds. The levy swap means that districts such as Goldendale now have no discretion on how funds are used, since state monies are directed toward specific uses outside the district's control.

"It means the legislature has effectively done the very opposite of what it was supposed to do," Schlenker says, "which is to make sure basic education gets funded."

The levy swap capped school levies to a limit that cannot accommodate basic education requirements in the GSD, as with many districts in the state. Funds to cover needed costs are simply not provided in any current scenario, a disaster now seeking remedy from lawmakers.


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