North Thurston Public Schools Budget
Each year, NTPS leaders create a budget, which the School Board reviews and adopts in August. The budget includes all district costs, such as employee salaries and benefits, supplies, facilities, information technology, transportation, and more.
North Thurston Public Schools recently completed its annual audit with the Washington State Auditor’s Office (SAO). SAO reviewed the 2021-22 fiscal year, including accountability for public resources; financial statement for the district; and federal grant compliance. It was what is called a clean audit: SAO found no misstatements, no deficiencies in the design or operation of internal controls over financial reporting, and no instances of noncompliance. These results reflect our efficient and accountable use of public funding!
2023-24 school year budget
The NTPS School Board approved the 2023-24 school year budget at the August 15, 2023, meeting. The NTPS team has managed costs in a variety of ways this past school year. If the district had not acted to reduce supplies spending, limit staff travel, hold some positions vacant, and reassign others, we would have faced an estimated $13 million budget shortfall going into the 2023-24 school year.
As a result of managing costs, we can present a balanced budget proposal to the School Board as required by law.
Budget-related decisions have affected every school and department in the district. For example, we have:
- Reassigned some paraprofessionals and specialists to align with school enrollments while still meeting contractual agreements.
- Reassigned some instructional specialists to school-based roles.
- Held vacant and eliminated positions at the District Office.
- Limited staff travel throughout the year.
- Sought grant funding to maintain programs, such as our recently awarded Stronger Connections grant to support mental health staffing.
- Refreshed Chromebooks for 1st through 5th graders to eliminate the need for an extra set of devices in specialist classrooms.
- Purchased new copiers and printing software that will improve efficiency and save 20% each year on district printing costs.
In preparing the budget, we have been able to adhere to our guiding principles:
- Meet our contractual agreements
- Staffing levels aligned with enrollment at each school or special program
- Reduce staffing levels through attrition
- Fill necessary positions from within existing district staff
- Least impactful to student learning environment
- Least impactful to our short- and long-term strategic plan goals
- Strive for equitable reductions across employee groups
- No reduction in force
- Continue to strive for efficiencies across all areas of operations
- Improve efficiencies in delivering special education services
Looking ahead, we anticipate continued budget constraints moving beyond this year into the 2024-25 school year for several reasons:
- The end of federal COVID-19 relief funding (ESSER). These temporary funds helped us balance our budget, but they must be spent by September 2024 and will not be replenished.
- Special education services are significantly underfunded by the state. We must improve efficiency in service delivery. Our local levy picks up about $10 million of special education costs. For the 2023-24 school year, our costs are increasing by about $1.4 million, and our state funding is increasing by $2 million. Even with the increase, there is still significant underfunding.
- Loss of regionalization funding. The state reimburses districts for the average cost of an educator. Regionalization funding is funding in addition to that average cost to account for the cost of living in different parts of the state. We are currently at 3% additional funding and will drop to 1.5% for the 2023-24 school year, with no additional funding for school year 2024-25. This is a loss of $4 million.
Budget Process Timeline
January / February
- Enrollment Projections - how many students are enrolled at NTPS?
- The legislative session begins - we watch this closely as they make decisions that affect our funding.
March / April
- Analyze Certified staffing with principals & directors - teacher staffing needs
- Analyze Classified staffing with principals & directors - other staffing needs
- Analyze Department budgets - initial projected budget amounts given to departments
May / June
- Once all departments and schools communicate staffing needs, we send this total personnel budget to Human Resources.
- All departments and schools send us their final budgets based upon amounts given in March/April.
- Finalize the fee schedule (lunches and other fees) and send the schedule to the Board.
July / August
- Budgets from all departments and schools, including staffing, are compiled and sent as a draft to the Board.
- The Board reviews the draft, and a presentation of the draft budget is held in July.
- In August, the Board holds a public hearing and adopts the budget.
September / December
- Current year budget monitoring through monthly reporting to the Board of Directors.
- Current year budget monitoring by principals and directors.