Mount Baker School District coverage
The state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction has released a handy summary of the State Supreme Court’s McCleary v. Washington ruling.
The Jan. 5 2012 ruling found the state wasn’t doing its constitutional duty to amply fund basic education.
Here’s a breakdown of the ruling in the court’s own words:
The Paramount duty of the state is to provide “ample” support for basic education:
Article IX, section 1 confers on children in Washington a positive constitutional right to an amply funded education (page 2).
Ample means more than just adequate:
The word “ample” in article IX, section 1 provides a broad constitutional guideline meaning fully, sufficient, and considerably more than just adequate (p 3).
Lack of revenue does not justify failing to meet the paramount duty:
To ensure that the legislature exercises its authority within constitutionally prescribed bounds, any reduction of programs or offerings from the basic education program must be accompanied by an educational policy rationale. That is, the legislature may not eliminate an
offering from the basic education program for reasons unrelated to educational policy, such as fiscal crisis or mere expediency (p. 54).
At a minimum, the State must fully fund NERCs (overhead costs), transportation, and staff salaries and benefits without relying on local levies or federal funds:
If the State’s funding formulas provide only a portion of what it actually costs a school to pay its teachers, get kids to school, and keep the lights on, then the legislature cannot maintain that it is fully funding basic education through its funding formulas (p. 60).
Two Bellingham students are among the top 20 finalists in Washington state for Wendy’s High School Heisman award.
Our two local finalists are Irini Zourkos of Bellingham High School and Hanna Tartleton of Sehome High School.
Nearly 620 students throughout the state applied for the award, which honors students for their achievements in athletics, academics and community and school leadership.
On Monday, Nov. 5, one male and one female student per state will be announced as state winners, with 12 chosen to go on as national finalists. The top male and female athlete will be recognized during the college Heisman Trophy broadcast on ESPN Dec. 8, and their schools will receive $10,000.
The Mount Baker School Board has approved a $20.5 million budget for 2012-13 that includes teacher and other staff layoffs to help close a $1.9 million deficit.
The district also will spend $200,000 of its reserves in the next school year under the general fund budget approved July 26. The general fund pays for the school district’s daily operations.
The budget plans for continued declining enrollment, with 100 fewer students in the next school year.
“The only responsible way to budget is to expect a trend to continue,” said Charles Burleigh, the new superintendent for Mount Baker School District. “If we end up seeing more students, then that’s good news for Mount Baker.”
He added: “But we need to be responsible and budget for the worst case.”
School districts receive funding based on the number of students enrolled, not on the number of teachers and other staff. Once a district sets its baseline staffing in the spring for the following school year, the number of positions can increase but can’t decrease.
To help close the deficit, the district has laid off 10 teachers (or eight full-time equivalent positions) as well as cut the job of the director of transportation/maintenance and the curriculum director post that had been temporarily filled by an employee who was reassigned to another job. Classified staff also were affected, with layoffs and cutbacks in hours totaling three full-time equivalent positions.
Still, there’s a bright note in the coming year as the school district will be able to offer full-day kindergarten five days a week at all of its elementary schools beginning this fall.
Prior to the expansion, that schedule was available only at Kendall. Come fall, kindergarten at Acme and Harmony will grow from three days a week to five.
“It’s something that has been a priority for the school board for years, the focus on early childhood education. We’re very excited and look forward to this being an ongoing part of our program,” Burleigh said of expanding kindergarten.
The expansion also allowed the school district to bring back two teachers.
“They had been laid off and were recalled because we were able to do this,” Burleigh said.
Money for kindergarten expansion comes from Title 1 funds that are in a separate pot of money than the general fund.
Those funds — a substantial portion of which had been required to be set aside for tutoring programs run by outside agencies and for potential transportation costs — were freed up after Washington state received a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind requirements in July, giving the school district the chance to use the money in a way it couldn’t before.
Title 1 is a federal program that provides financial assistance to educational agencies and public schools that have high numbers of poor children, with the goal of helping those children meet state academic standards.
Burleigh said the district’s spending level is sustainable going into the future because of increasing levy amounts approved by voters in February.
The school district will be collecting the full amount of those levies beginning in the 2013-14 school year.
Mount Baker Rotary club gave a total of $32,400 in scholarships to 18 students who graduated from Whatcom County high schools in 2012 and are going on to college.
Each student received a $1,800 scholarship.
- Lynden Christian: Brennan Huleatt, Jami Jo Libolt, John Pawlowski, Chad Heerspink, Kayla Aupperlee and Kaitlyn Brown.
- Lynden: Amber Stokes, Taylor Witman, Fraser Shindruk, Jeremy Korthuis, Cassidy Gunst and Sarrah VanZanten.
- Meridian: Denver VanderYacht and Kelli Terpsma.
- Mount Baker: Rachel Larson and Ben Koehler.
- Nooksack Valley: Charity Caldwell and Courtney Edwards
DEMING — The Mount Baker School District will offer free meals to children June 20 to July 6 at the junior and senior high school commons, 4936 Deming Road.
Meals will be served Monday through Friday only. No meals will be served July 4.
Breakfast will be served from 8:45 to 9 a.m. Lunch will be served from 11:20 to 11:50 a.m.
The district is providing the meals to children who are 1 to 18 years old as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Simplified Summer Food Program for Children.
For questions, contact Food Service Director Karla Atwood at 360-383-2076.
Lynden Christian, Lummi and Windward kicked off graduations in Whatcom County with their ceremonies on Thursday, June 7.
Lynden and Nooksack Valley high schools are up next, with their graduations beginning at 7 p.m. Friday, June 8.
Below is a round-up of high school and college graduation ceremonies this month. Ceremonies are open to the public, unless otherwise noted.
FRIDAY, JUNE 8
Lynden High School: 7 p.m. in the school gym.
Nooksack Valley High School: 7 p.m. at Sid Lambert Field or Kay LeMaster Gym, depending on the weather.
SATURDAY, JUNE 9
Ferndale High School: 11 a.m. at Civic Field.
Western Washington University:
- 9 a.m. College of Business and Economics, College of Fine and Performing Arts, Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies, and Huxley College of the Environment.
- 12:30 p.m. College of Humanities and Social Sciences (Humanities Division) and Woodring College of Education.
- 4 p.m. College of Humanities and Social Sciences (Social Sciences Division) and the College of Sciences and Technology.
All three ceremonies are in Carver Gymnasium. Tickets are required for seating in the gym, but there will be overflow seating in the Science, Mathematics and Technology Education building with the ceremonies broadcast on a screen. The ceremonies also will be broadcast live on Comcast channel 26 and streamed live on www.ustream.tv/channel/wwu-live-events1.
MONDAY, JUNE 11
Blaine High School: 6 p.m. in the school gym.
Community Transitions (Bellingham School District): 7 p.m. Bellingham Cruise Terminal, Dome Room.
TUESDAY, JUNE 12
Mount Baker High School: 6:30 p.m. at the school’s Bob Tisdale Field.
THURSDAY, JUNE 14
Meridian High School: 7 p.m. in the school gym.
Explorations Academy: 7 p.m. at Squalicum Boathouse. Space is limited so people need to contact Explorations before June 13 if they wish to attend.
FRIDAY, JUNE 15
Bellingham High School: 7 p.m. in the school gym. Tickets required.
Northwest Indian College: 4 p.m. in Wex’liem community building.
Whatcom Community College: 6:30 p.m. in the Pavilion. Tickets are required to sit in the pavilion; however there will be overflow seating in Heiner Theatre with the ceremony broadcast on a screen.
SATURDAY, JUNE 16
Squalicum High School: 11 a.m. at the school. Tickets required.
MONDAY, JUNE 18
Sehome High School: 6 p.m. in Carver Gym at WWU.
TUESDAY, JUNE 19
Options High School: 7 p.m. in the theater at Bellingham High School.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20
Bellingham Technical College: 7 p.m. at Mount Baker Theatre. Tickets required.
The Mount Baker School Board is holding a meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, June 4, to hear public comment on the budget that’s being developed for the 2012-13 school year.
Click here to read the previous story I wrote about the school district’s deficit of $1.95 million.
The meeting will be at the district office, 4956 Deming Road.
DEMING — People can meet the new superintendent of the Mount Baker School District during a reception Thursday, June 7.
The event for Charles Burleigh is 5 to 7 p.m. in the district office, 4956 Deming Road.
Burleigh, principal of Kendall Elementary School, will become the district’s superintendent starting July 1.
The school board unanimously offered Burleigh the superintendent job in March. He was one of four finalists.
Burleigh has been with the school district since 1999. He was principal of the junior high school until 2007, when he left to be principal of Kendall.
Karst Brandsma has served as the interim superintendent since Richard Gantman resigned at the beginning of October to write a book and work as a business consultant.
The school district has about 2,000 students.
DEMING – The Mount Baker School District will cut programs and lay off employees to close a $1.95 million deficit in the 2012-13 budget.
To help bridge that gap, the district is proposing to cut its workforce by 23.1 full-time equivalent positions, with 14.4 of that in teaching. The remainder is in classified and administrative staff.
How many people that translates into is being worked out still.
The proposed employee reductions would save nearly $1.6 million.
District voters approved two levies in February, but that money won’t begin to come in until 2013. That amount is expected to total $375,000 in 2013.
State and federal budget cuts in recent years and declining enrollment are among the causes for the deficit, according to Karst Brandsma, interim superintendent for the school district.
Mount Baker also was overstaffed this school year because deadlines were missed last year and staffing levels weren’t reduced as planned, according to Brandsma.
He said part of the cuts will correct that, while acknowledging the impact on workers will be tough.
“That’s the part that’s the most difficult, ” Brandsma said, noting that about 83 percent of the district’s budget is for employees.
School districts receive funding based on the number of students enrolled, so fewer students mean fewer dollars.
Mount Baker is not alone in enrollment declines. Other districts in Whatcom County are seeing flat or declining enrollment.
This school year’s enrollment at Mount Baker is down by 108 students from the previous year. That downward trend is expected to continue next school year with enrollment dropping by another 123 to total 1,709 students.
In total, that translates into a funding loss of about $1.1 million, according to Brandsma.
Brandsma believes families leaving the district in search of jobs are driving the drop in enrollment.
The loss of Initiative 728 money also will mean fewer dollars for Mount Baker. In April, the state Legislature repealed that measure, which voters approved in 2000 to reduce class sizes in lower grades, after funding it inconsistently as finances tightened.
Meanwhile, the district has been drawing down its reserves by about $1 million a year beginning in the 2009-10 school year.
It’s expected to end this school year with $1.09 million, and the reserves fund can’t go lower than that, according to Brandsma.
To cut costs or raise revenue, the district may:
- eliminate a bus run for after-school activities on Fridays and reduce practices at the junior high level to help save about $20,000;
- reorganize Mount Baker Academy, which supports families that homeschool, for a saving of $35,000;
- charge adults 25 cents more to eat school lunches, increase pay-to-play by $5 per student, and bump up the fee for facility use – all to bring in another $10,000.
The Mount Baker School District has a new superintendent.
Click here to find out who it is.