Wenatchee Schools To Continue Spending Cuts With New Budget
Wenatchee Schools has a budget in place for the school year starting Tuesday after the school board gave its approval last week.
A budget shortfall of almost $4.5 million will be offset by job cuts and cuts to spending on supplies the district will make as the school year progresses.
Wenatchee Schools spokesperson Diana Haglund says the district should be on sound financial footing once the adjustments are made.
"We do have reductions that still need to be made and those won't be easy," said Haglund. "But we really are trying to make sure that we are right sizing our district, and that we're using our resources that taxpayers are giving to us effectively and being good stewards of those dollars."
Shrinking enrollment is forcing the cuts at Wenatchee schools.
Enrollment has been a chronic problem over the last decade, dropping by 751 students between 2015 and 2023. There were also 57 fewer students enrolled in the last year from the 2021-2022 school year. Enrollment is expected to fall again in the upcoming school year before stabilizing in 2024-25.
The Wenatchee Schools budget before those cuts totals $135.4 million but will fall to just under $131 million to balance out.
Haglund says there’s been cooperation at all levels to move forward as staffing cuts have been painful.
“This is a difficult process, but our union partners have been great to work with,” Haglund said. “We’ve done it together. We’ve been very transparent throughout this process. And so, I think that has also made a very difficult situation a little bit easier.
Haglund said most of the personnel cuts were jobs being eliminated when employees retired or left the district.
There’s also $2.861 million from the district’s state required savings account, which is called a “fund balance,” that was used previously to help draw down the budget shortfall that totaled more than $8 million when it was first discovered in the 2022-23 school year.
An additional $4 million is coming from the district’s savings, or fund balance, to finance a new girls softball facility at Triangle Park. The school board is expecting the facility to have a final cost in excess of $4 million, but board members believe there'll be another funding source available to help pay for it
The facility is being constructed because there’s been concern the Wenatchee School District was not meeting compliance with Title IX. Title IX requires all educational institutions in the US to reward male and female athletes equally.
The budget now in place has a beginning fund balance of $19,253,308 and an ending fund balance of $10,821,441.
The district is required by the state to have a minimum fund balance, or savings, of five percent of the total budget. That minimum sum is currently $6.77 million.
Of the $10,821,441 in the fund balance, only $1.3 million is available for emergency spending such as another budget shortfall.