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2023 Winter Budget Update

Superintendent Israel Vela's Budget Message - December 2023

Over the past year, I have openly communicated the budget challenges facing Kent School District (KSD) and other school districts in our region. Declining enrollment, expiring federal funding, and inflationary cost pressures have contributed to these budget challenges. Thankfully, the KSD community began to address these budget issues as opportunities to utilize resources more efficiently, while continuing to provide a world-class education to our students.

Unfortunately, these budget challenges are likely to continue. This year, the WA State Legislature will convene for a short 60-day session. While I hope the State will provide more funding, it is unlikely that our district will receive enough funding to fully address our students' needs. With this in mind, I am communicating from a place of transparency, with a commitment to long-term financial stability.

The funding issues have grown over the last several years. The federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding provided during the COVID-19 pandemic created an important source of financial stability when in-person instruction was suspended. Federal and state officials hoped that enrollment declines would eventually return to pre-pandemic levels. However, that has not been the case. Overall, enrollment is down by approximately 2,100 students from 2018. ESSER provided funding to support this gap, but these funds will no longer exist after this school year.  

I want to again thank our voters for passing the Education Programs & Operations Levy on November 7. This funding continues the local levy support we have relied upon in the past; however, it does not address our current budget needs. The failure of the Capital & Technology Levy is also a factor as we plan for the future.

Last spring, I shared our multi-year “stair-step” approach to addressing budget needs, and the first steps were taken to adjust staffing and departmental budgets. As we look to the future, we are considering ways to implement a larger reduction, along with re-alignment of the central administrative communities and teams to support our Strategic Plan. 

Through all of this, I appreciate the dedication of our staff who continue to keep a student-centered approach while focusing on the work. Your commitment to the Kent School District has not gone unnoticed.

For those interested in learning more about the financial challenges of school districts in general, and Kent School District specifically, please see the resources below. 

Resources

Board Presentation – Fiscal Year 2022 Year-In-Review

Board Presentation – Fiscal Year 2023 Year-in-Review

Seattle Times – Why schools across WA are slashing their budgets

Seattle Times – State schools leader says WA isn’t doing enough to fund education

March 2023 – Kent School District Budget Message

 April 2023 – Kent School District Budget Message