Winlock School Board Members Randy Hall, Duane Bryant, Holly Orbino, Emily Ruiz, and Heath Palen-McBee (not in photo) attend meetings to discuss WSD budget shortfall.
The Winlock School Board met on Wednesday, February 15 at 5:00 p.m. to work with Education Service District (ESD) 113. ESD helps school districts by pooling resources, provides essential services for school districts and in this case, helps identify what could be done in the budget shortfall that is happening.
The Winlock School District is expected to be in the negative at the end of the 2022-2023 school year. Expenditures are estimated to exceed revenues by $1,451,525. There is currently $300,000 in the Debt Service Fund that can be transferred to the Capital Projects fund. If all projects are completed, there could be some funding in Capital Projects that could be transferred back, approximately $400,000. There are also a few dollars in the Transportation Fund that can be transferred. Funds can not be transferred from the ASB Fund. Even with all the transfers, the Winlock School Board will have to reduce spending.
Garry Cameron, Superintendent for the Winlock School Board stated, "It was informative to have ESD 113 present our current financial situation. When we met with ESD 113 in late January they only spoke about options regarding our general fund. The opportunity for the district to transfer $300K from our debt service fund, and up to possibly $400K from our capital fund was new information provided to the district. Glad to see that we have the ability to get to our fund balance policy percentage through the transfer of funds from different categories, and by reducing spending."
Heath Palen-McBee, President of the Winlock School Board stated, "The Winlock School Board of Directors appreciated the ESD 113 joining us during our Special Session on February 15. Having so many community members and employees join us at the meeting helps in educating the public about the complicated budget process and money management a school district must work within. Learning about other opportunities to move money and to reduce spending will help the school district find ways to meet our fund balance policy percentage."
Winlock School District Teachers Union President, Tori Nelson was at the meeting and she stated, "We now know that there are ways to make budget adjustments without cutting staff. For the future of these kids and the district as a whole, that's exactly what needs to happen." Thankfully, the behavioral specialist will not be losing their jobs, students need these specialists now more than ever.
Winlock School Board member Holly Orbino, speaking on her own behalf, stated, "I do not speak for or represent the board as a whole, just me. I am so grateful to the ESD for coming out and doing this budget workshop. It confirmed two very important things for me. First and most importantly, our budget can be fixed without eliminating Denise, Dani, Eric and Lorena. It is imperative that these vital employees remain in our district. Secondly, we definitely have a budget shortfall that must be fixed. The board as a whole must come up with a plan of action that will keep our district from falling into the red. I am hopeful and optimistic that we can do this! I am so proud of my awesome community for coming together and standing up for our kids and our families!"
The Winlock community, as well as teachers, parents and students stood up on February 8 to protest the removal of five employees. Three of the employees work directly with students during crises, often saving students from making decisions that will affect them for the rest of their life. Seeing the entire community come together to help the students was refreshing, this just showed how much the future of the students is important to all of us.