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Kelso High STOCK

The Kelso School Board on Monday unanimously approved a $70 million budget for 2019-2020. Board members also heard a first reading of an updated policy on the restraint and isolation of students and on PE reporting requirements.

The budget includes between $3.5 million and $3.7 million in expense reduction. These reductions come mostly from the elimination of 25 full-time certificate-holding staff and 11 full-time classified staff positions.

Scott Westlund, chief financial and operations officer for Kelso School District, said those positions were mostly eliminated by leaving positions unfilled and through reduced hours. While there were a handful of layoffs due to eliminated positions, Westlund said there were employment opportunities in different roles within the district.

The district’s travel budget was also cut in half for the upcoming year, from $304,685 in 2018-2019 to $156,838 in 2019-2020, saving the district $150,000. With those reductions, the district is facing a deficit of $484,223, which Westlund told the board is consistent with past years.

Tax revenue from local levies is expected to be near $3.5 million in 2019-2020, which is about $1.8 million less than last year. Westlund said that while in the past two years, revenue had increased due to the McCleary decision, this year it fell because Kelso school district’s enrollment is lower than in years’ past.

The board had previously set a goal that 8% of operating budget be kept in reserve. This budget only keeps 6.4% in reserve, but Westlund told the board that many of the projections were conservative and based on last year’s lower kindergarten enrollment numbers.

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Westlund said he estimates that next year’s ending fund balance, currently projected to be $4.5 million, will end up being in the range of $4.5 million to $5.5 million.

Both policies were updated to include annual reports to the board about incidents in which restraint or isolation were used and about the result of the annual PE review. The items the review should include were also updated, and include the number of students in PE classes and minutes per week of PE among other items.

The policies will be voted on at the board’s next meeting on Sept. 9 at 6 p.m. at the Ruth B. Clark Administration Services Building, 601 Crawford St.

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