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Arlington School District sends levy to voters | GUEST OPINION
Arlington School District is one of 295 school districts in the state of Washington. While each district is unique in its demographics, needs, community support and funding issues, there are many laws and regulations that govern how all districts are managed. During the current economic times, school districts are challenged to meet the many educational requirements while experiencing diminishing resources.
The Washington State Constitution establishes the education of all children as the paramount duty of the state. It requires the state to make ample provision for a uniform system of public schools.To carry out its constitutional responsibility, the state dedicates almost half of all state General Fund resources to support of the public schools.
School districts account for the day-to-day maintenance and operations of the district in their General Fund. Other funds are used to account for specialized activities. These include the Capital Projects Fund for the acquisition of land, equipment, and facilities; the Debt Service Fund for redemption of bonds and payment of interest; the Transportation Vehicle Fund for the acquisition and maintenance of pupil transportation equipment; the Associated Student Body Fund for student activities; and Trust Funds for donations dedicated for specific uses.
Last school year, Arlington School District received 66.5 percent of its General Fund revenue from the state allocation. These funds are used for Basic Education, Special Education, and Career and Technical Education. In addition, the district received 8.6 percent of its General Fund operating revenue from federal sources and the local programs and operations levy funded 21.2 percent of General fund operations. The other 3.8 percent of the district’s revenue came from fees, such as school lunches, and other local revenue.
The Arlington School District spends 92.6 percent of its operating budget directly on student learning. The largest expenditure area for Arlington School District is in the area of instruction. About 69.1 percent of all expenditures are for teaching and the classroom, while another 6.7 percent is spent on administering the school buildings. The cost of operating, upkeep and management of school buildings and facilities accounts for 8.0 percent of all expenditures. And, the cost of transporting students by bus accounts for 5.5 percent of all district spending. Providing 805,353 breakfasts and lunches for approximately 5,400 students is another 3.3 percent of the General Fund budget.
Not included in the above descriptions of student learning activities costs are the expenses needed to provide direct support to schools, such as the district office, records management, health services, student activities and athletics and family communication. These costs account for 7.4 percent of the General Fund expenditures.
On February 14, the district has a Replacement of Expiring Program and Operations Levy measure on the ballot. This local funding, as noted above, supports over 21 percent of our General Fund programs and operations. Adequate funding to continue to give the students of Arlington the best education possible continues to be a significant challenge and concern. These are uncertain economic times for everyone and the district relies heavily on local funding for continued stability. The Arlington community has always shown great support for our schools and the district is committed to earning that trust by being good stewards of its resources.
Deborah Borgens is the Executive Director of Finance for the Arlington School District and can be reached at email@example.com.