The sixth graders at Rose Hill Middle School worked on an exciting new unit on ecosystems restoration in science this fall. During this unit, students not only learned what makes a healthy forest ecosystem but also got the opportunity to plan and execute their very own restoration project for a damaged ecosystem on Rose Hill’s campus.
- Where does the money come from?
- Where does the money go?
- School funding basics
- Educational Programs & Operations (EP&O) Levy
The district gets its operating revenue from five primary sources: state apportionment, local levy, state categorical, federal funds and fees for district programs.
State general funds
State apportionment, or state general purpose funding, provides the largest portion, 64 percent, of Lake Washington School District’s general fund revenue. The amount is determined by the number of students attending our schools and a series of formula factors. Those factors include legislatively-set base salaries, employee benefits and non-labor allocations.
Educational programs and operations levy
The local property tax levy provides 13.9 percent of general budgeted revenues. These levy amounts are capped by the legislature: the district cannot raise more money than the limit even when your property value rises or even if the community wanted to raise more money for schools. Levies must be approved by Lake Washington School District voters at a special election.
State categorical funds
State dollars that are earmarked for specific categories provide 11.5 percent of budgeted revenues. These funds must be used for specific categories such as special education, pupil transportation, English Language Learner education, learning assistance and education enhancements. Most of these revenues are given for a specific program and are not available for other purposes.
The district generates 2.6 percent of its own revenue by charging fees for programs such as extended day care, athletic participation and preschool. This category includes revenue from sales of school lunches and investment interest earnings.
Money from the federal government comprises 6.1 percent of district revenues. These dollars fund such programs as Head Start and Title I (educational enhancements to improve achievement of low-income children). They also provide supplemental funding for special education programs and support free and reduced price lunches in the nutrition services program. These revenues also may only be used for their specific program purpose.
Other school districts, agencies and financing sources
Payments from other districts for participation in joint programs, grants from other non-state agencies and transfers from Capital Levy for Technology Training & Applications accounts for 1.9 percent of budgeted revenues.
Click on the tabs above to see "Where does the money go?" and "School Funding Basics."
Classroom expenses are Lake Washington School District’s budget priority. That’s where children spend most of their school day and where learning happens. So most of the district's resources go there directly.
Total Teaching - 77%
This portion of the district’s budget is spent in and on the classroom, including expenditures for teachers, counselors, librarians, educational assistants, teaching supplies, materials, textbooks, instructional staff development, assessment and curriculum development. Also included are expenditures for pupil management and safety, health-related services, activities/athletics support and supervision, and community services and programs.
Building Administration - 6.4%
This segment covers building administration, including principals, and school support, such as secretaries and office supplies.
Maintenance & Operations - 5.1%
These expenses include costs to maintain the district’s facilities. This segment covers grounds and building maintenance, cleaning services, utilities costs and building and property security.
Central Administration - 4.8%
These expenses include development, coordination and evaluation of instructional programs by the superintendent and central office. Also included are business and human resources, supervision for nutrition services, maintenance and transportation, communications and legal costs.
Transportation - 2.2%
This segment includes the operations, maintenance and insurance for transporting students.
Nutrition Services - 1.8%
This segment includes the costs for food and operations for the district lunch and breakfast program.
Other - 2.7%
These expenses include property and liability insurance, information systems, printing, warehouse and distribution
services. Also included are expenses related to the Extended Day program, which provides fee-based before and after school care for students.
Ever wondered how school funding is decided at the state level? Or why there seems to be money for technology and new buildings but not for supplies or needed staff positions? The answer lies in the state's school funding system.
The Basic Education Act, passed in 1977, defines formulas used to fund basic education for students in Washington state and thus what the state will pay for. Local levies are supposed to pay for extras – enhancements that local taxpayers want above and beyond the basics.
Funding for operations is capped
Basic education funding from the state, otherwise known as state general funding (see "Where does the money Come from?" above), made up 64.7 percent of the 2019-20 budget for the district.
Different elements of the system were put into place so that access to education remained relatively equal across the state: a student in a poor area would not receive an education substantially worse than a student in a rich area. As a result, districts are limited in how much money they can raise through local levies.
Local levy dollars come from property taxes and provide additional money for school operating funds. These funds fill in the gap between state basic education funding and the current educational program and account for 13.1 percent of the district budget. While the state has taken steps to provide additional funding for basic education, many areas remain underfunded. These areas include: Special Education, Highly Capable, English Language Learners, transportation, substitutes, and safety and security. Further, the district will always need local levies to fund local programs and priorities which are not considered to be Basic Education and will never be funded by the state. These programs and priorities include: professional learning, athletics, extracurricular activities, early learning, and additional courses (7-period day).
State dollars are provided through what are called state categorical funds, those earmarked for specific purposes, such as special education, transportation, and English Language Learner education. These dollars are not available for other purposes.
Federal dollars are relatively few: 3.9 percent of the district’s operating budget comes from the federal government. That money is also earmarked for specific purposes, such as Head Start, educational support for low-income students, and support for free and reduced-price lunches.
If state general funds, state earmarked funds, and local levy dollars do not cover the costs of running a school district, there are few legal options for the district to raise more money. It can charge fees for some programs, like extended day, athletics, or school lunches. But the ability to charge money is also limited: students are guaranteed a free education.
Money for building schools and buying big items (buses, technology) is raised through separate ballot measures, such as capital levies and bonds. These dollars can only be spent on that specific purpose. They can’t be transferred to the general operating fund to pay for something else. So we can’t, for example, decide to use the money from the technology levy earmarked for Smartboards or new computers to pay for more teachers: that would be illegal. We also can’t decide to use the money set aside for building schools to pay for anything in the general operating budget, like staffing, supplies or textbooks.
EP&O levies ensure our students have continued access to staff, programs and course offerings to be successful and graduate future ready.
The EP&O levy fills the gap between state basic education funding and the current educational program. Among the items it helps pay for are:
- Staffing for programs to meet student instructional needs, such as Special Education, Highly Capable, English Learner Programs
- Staffing for safety and security, such as substitutes, nurses, health room staff, campus security staff.
- Staff professional learning, teacher planning and preparation time, New Teacher Support Program, training, workshops.
- Extracurricular activities and athletics.
- Additional course offerings such as a 7-period high school day to support graduation requirements, summer learning.
- Early Learning programs such as Special Education Preschool, Ready Start, Head Start.
The state legislatures limits what school districts can collect through the EP&O levy. Lake Washington is limited to $2,700 per student.
The EP&O levy must be renewed by voters every 4 years. The next renewal will be in 2022. Levies require 50% approval to pass.
Staffing for Programs
- Provide staff needed to support student learning:
- Maintain and/or enhance classified staff and certificated staff for program beyond Basic Education funding including: Special Education, Highly Capable and English Language Learner programs
- Provide/maintain substitutes for classroom teachers and classified staff to ensure functioning classrooms and schools
- Cost: $53.4 million
Staffing for Social Emotional Learning, Safety and Security
- Provide staff needed to support student learning, emotional well-being and ensure safe and orderly functioning of schools:
- Provide/maintain social emotional learning/mental health supports, counselors
- Provide/maintain school nurses and health room staff
- Provide/maintain campus security staff
- Cost: $11.0 million
- Provide program of professional learning to support and retain highly effective personnel:
- Provide/maintain New Teacher Support Program
- Provide/maintain five (5) teacher professional learning days prior to the start of school
- Provide/maintain professional development strategy including training, workshops, and in-service days
- Cost: $13.6 million
Athletics and Extracurricular Activities
- Provide program of extracurricular program including athletics activities and ensure Title IX and WIAA compliance:
- Provide/maintain athletic directors, coaches, athletic trainers
- Provide/maintain advisors for activities
- Cost: $7.0 million
Additional Course Offerings
- Provide courses to ensure students graduate college and career ready
- Provide for a 7-period high school day to support state 24-credit requirement
- Provide summer learning opportunities
- Cost: $6.4 million
- Provide early learning services
- Provide/maintain preschool program for special education, Head Start and Ready Start
- Cost: $0.9 million