The Camas school board approves a budget of $ 132 million for 2021-2022

CAMAS – The Camas school board last week approved a budget of $ 132 million for 2021-2022 which takes $ 6.5 million from fund balances to make up for shortfalls caused by the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, declining student enrollment and COVID-19 relief funds that have been disproportionately small compared to similar-sized school districts in Washington.

“The 2020-21 fiscal year has been perhaps the most uncertain in the history of K-12 education,” Jasen McEathron, director of business services for the Camas school district, told Monday. Camas school board. “The changes in educational policies and practices induced by COVID have made 2020-2021 extremely difficult to predict. “

The school district has also experienced “unprecedented enrollment volatility” since the pandemic began in 2020, McEathron added.

“We had a 6-7 percent drop in registrations last year,” McEathron said.

The 2021-2022 school district budget is based on the assumption that the district will recover approximately half of these lost enrollments.

“We felt like this was a conservative approach to take,” McEathron said, adding that the district’s enrollment losses “were consistent” with those of other districts in the region and Washington.

“Thanks to the work of the budget committee, we have decided on a 2021-2022 estimated enrollment of 7,018 students. … “This is a net gain of 3% over our current membership,” McEathron said, but said it was still below the district’s pre-pandemic enrollment levels.

“Considering the high level of new developments in our community and the possibility of welcoming students back into full-time in-person instruction, we believe the 3% increase in enrollment is a reasonable budget parameter,” McEathron said. “However, from a service perspective, we will endeavor to safely accommodate all students in the community and hope to exceed our budgeted enrollment.”

A four-year projection shows that Camas school officials also believe enrollment rates will start to rebound, but may level off over the next four years.

“In this model, we put the education gains where we were before COVID,” but then the trend starts to stabilize due to “declining birth rates,” McEathron said. “We know COVID has further lowered these (birth) rates. “

The school district plans to return to a pre-pandemic learning program this fall, with five full days of in-person instruction each week and a fully remote Camas Connect Academy option, five days a week for unwilling families. return to classes in person.

The 2021-2022 school district budget includes $ 114.4 million in general fund expenditures, which includes funding for 483.7 full-time equivalents (FTEs) of certified staff (teachers, principals, central office administrators ) and 274.5 FTEs of classified personnel.

McEathron said revenues are expected to be 4.3% higher in 2021-2022 than in 2020-21, and include $ 1.6 million in federal and state COVID-19 relief funds as well as use planned $ 6.5 million in the district fund balance. Spending is also expected to be 11.4% higher in 2021-22 from 2020-21 levels, with 87% of district general fund spending going to staff costs.

The district will end the 2021-2022 school year with a 9.7% fund balance.

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