M’ville tries to figure out legislature’s school funding

MARYSVILLE – Finance director Mike Sullivan tried to explain the new state funding package to the Marysville school board Monday night.

But even he admitted he has more questions than answers, adding it’s one of the most-confusing budgets he’s ever worked with.

“My head’s going to be spinning for a while,” board president Pete Lundberg said at the end of the work session. “I’ve got nothing but questions.”

Sullivan said he would keep the board informed as he learns more as the state legislature itself is still working on the details.

Sullivan said his best estimate is that the district will receive about $5 million more than previously. Some of the categories getting more funding include special education, Career and Technical Education, bilingual education and Highly Capable programs.

Lundberg said the district has been spending about $2 million more a year on special education than the state funded. With the state’s increase, it will still lose about $1 million a year.

One area of major change is class size. The legislature said it would fund class sizes from 22 to 17 in kindergarten through third grade.

“Sounds like we need twenty new classrooms,” board member Bruce Larsen said.

“We don’t have the capacity,” board member Chris Nation added.

If every school district did that, which they couldn’t because there aren’t enough classrooms, there would not be enough teachers available to hire to meet that mark.

“Where’s the state going to find the teachers?” Lundberg asked.

Sullivan said just in Snohomish County that would be several hundred more teachers.

“There are not several hundred teachers available,” he said.

Also, teacher pay will be an issue in Marysville. Statewide, the starting pay will be $40,000 a year, with the cap at $90,000.

“We pay more for teachers than they fund,” Sullivan said. “We will have a little bit more for teachers.”

Regarding teacher pay, Sullivan brought up that neighboring districts that have higher property values could pay more. Increases in property taxes is what will fund basic education.

“Poorer districts would get less,” Superintendent Becky Berg added.

Maintenance and Operations levies still will be needed, despite the increased state funding. In 2018 that amount will be about $28.5 million in Marysville. “That can’t be spent on basic education,” Sullivan said. It can only be spent on enriching student experiences, such as extracurricular activities, early learning, special courses, etc. Actually, starting in 2019, the names of M&O levies will be changed to “Enrichment levies.”

Levy equalization funds will help level the playing field. For example, local property owners paying the maximum $1.50 for $1,000 valuation will bring in $11 million. The equalization funds will up that amount to $15 million.

Board member Tom Albright said he doesn’t see that this new budgeting satisfies the McCleary Supreme Court decision to fully fund basic education.

Sullivan said the Supreme Court may decide it is flawed – that the formula is inadequate.

“We have to prove failure of their formula,” he said of school districts.

Sullivan said the state will be sending the district money differently.

“We will have to watch our cash flow,” he said.

One thing the district won’t have to change is its early release and late start days. The legislature wanted to limit those to just seven days, but Gov. Jay Inslee vetoed that.

Prior to that discussion, the board heard from LaToya Morris, director of Child Nutritional Services.

She said the district served 21,000 more breakfasts this year, compared to last year, but was down in lunches 13,000. However, because of snacks and dinner being served at a couple sites the district served 19,000 more meals.

“We were told to break even we had to sell more meals to kids,” Nation said. “But we really didn’t gain anything. We’re losing money at the same rate.”

Morris explained that selling snacks doesn’t bring in the money that selling full meals do.

“There are competing programs” that are “not compliant” nutritionally that kids like to buy, such as a cup of noodles and a cappuccino.

The hardest spots to sell lunches are Totem Middle School and Marysville Getchell High School, Morris said. However, Totem received a regional award for its Native American lunch in April and Marysville-Pilchuck High School won a national award for its lunch program.

Sodexo, the company that operates the school program, donated $50,000 in equipment to the district this year, for items such as coolers, salad bar stations, etc.

The school board’s regular meeting started with Dell Dierling, director of the Marysville Food Bank, receiving a check from Sodexo.

The food bank also received 22 pallets of food that were put in the freezer and are being given out to larger families of four and more.

“That was a complete bonus,” Dierling said. “They are still feeding the kids” just not at school.

More in News

Arlington Times Logo
Inslee: Stay home for 2 weeks

By Jerry Cornfield and Zachariah Bryan The Herald OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay… Continue reading

Fences have been put up around Marysville playgrounds to keep kids off. (Steve Powell/Staff Photos)
Marysville leaders concerned as (almost) everything’s closing

By Steve Powell spowell@marysvilleglobe.com MARYSVILLE – Within hours of Gov. Jay Inslee’s… Continue reading

Arlington Times Logo
Briefly

Beware of coronavirus scams SEATTLE – U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran is… Continue reading

Jennifer Thompson, left, and her father Ron Thompson secure a new remembrance plaque to the Oso slide site gate on Sunday, near Oso. Ron Thompson handcrafts a new plaque for the gate every year. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Community remembers Oso slide victims, survivors

By Ben Watanabe The Herald OSO — The power of remembering the… Continue reading

People gather to pick up special allergy meals before leaving Lakewood High School on Wednesday in Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Districts taking meals to students since schools are closed

By Stephanie Davey The Herald LAKEWOOD — Children wearing pajamas stood outside… Continue reading

Jon Nehring
Letter about coronavirus from Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring

This is an edited version of a letter Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring… Continue reading

DOUGLAS BUell/Staff Photos                                Lead cook Keina Gowins with Presidents Elementary hands out free grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches to students and parents outside the school Wednesday. Presidents and AHS serve as central kitchen sites for preparing meals, which starting next week will expand to 12 delivery sites from Silvana to Oso. Right, Arlington Food Bank executive director Carla Gastineau and Mike Simpson, food bank board president and owner of Arlington Grocery Outlet, partnered with the district with their Meals Til Monday program, and gave a woman a box of donated food while at Presidents.
Arlington students won’t go hungry during the COVID-19 school closures

ARLINGTON – Arlington schools are closed through April 24 to help fight… Continue reading

Scott Beebe hands out Chromebooks to people in their cars. (Steve Powell/Staff Photos)
Marysville parents anxious to pick up school materials for kids

By Steve Powell spowell@marysvilleglobe.com MARYSVILLE – A few days ago Marysville schools… Continue reading

Jon Nehring
Marysville leaders’ trip to D.C. productive

MARYSVILLE – City leaders recently obtained advice on how to get more… Continue reading

Crews will blow garbage into the street and sweep it up over the next few weeks. The city is asking people to move their cars, trash cans and recycle bins when they come around to help them do a thorough job. (Courtesy Photo)
Marysville shuffles workers due to virus, seeks public’s help for sweepers next week

By Steve Powell spowell@marysvilleglobe. MARYSVILLE – From working from home to teleconferencing… Continue reading

City of Arlington carries out operational changes to encourage social distancing
City of Arlington carries out operational changes to encourage social distancing

ARLINGTON – The city has made a series of operational changes in… Continue reading