The Camas School Board has approved the school district’s $140.8 million budget for the 2022-23 school year.
Camas School District’s director of business services, Jasen McEathron, said the district’s budget process, which culminated Aug. 22 with a public hearing and the school board’s approval, was designed to engage the school district’s various stakeholders.
“This really harkens back to (former superintendent) Jeff Snell and his desire to increase transparency in the budgeting process,” McEathron said. “This is the culmination of a lot of work. We’ve put a lot of heart and soul into it.”
The approved 2022-23 school year budget includes $140.8 million in expenditures: $119.1 million for the general fund; $13.2 million for the district’s debt services fund; $5.1 million for the capital projects fund (which McEathron said will mainly pay for school building roof repairs and replacements as well as fire system replacements in 2022-23); $2 million in the transport-vehicle fund, used to fund the district’s school bus network; and $1.4 million for the Associated Student Body fund managed by the student-led ASB for activities and events benefiting Camas students.
The district will use $5.8 million of its $18 million fund balance in 2022-23 to help offset a revenue gap while avoiding budget cuts.
McEathron said the district’s preliminary budget, which the school board reviewed in June, had called for using $5.8 million in reserves — instead of the $5.2 million projected earlier in the year — due to some unexpected expenditures, including about $500,000 in adjustments to the Camas Education Association’s salary schedule and $200,000 for changes to the district’s retirement rates.
The district had planned to balance its budget over a four-year period, using fund balances to help offset budget cuts without dipping below an 8.5 percent fund balance. Using more of these reserves in 2022-23 could mean more budget cuts in the future, McEathron told school board members on Aug. 22.
“We had anticipated cuts (over the next three years), but with the budget adjustments, we will rely heavier on fund balance. Instead of $5.2 million, it will be $5.8 million. But we’re not using more fund balance in the future. It just means less fund balance in years two (2023-24) and three (2024-25),” McEathron said. “It does put a heavier burden on budget cuts for next year.”
The school district expects to recover its pre-COVID-19 levels of student enrollment, a major driver of revenue thanks to the state’s per-student school funding equations. But McEathron cautioned that student population growth will be slower than the district has experienced before the pandemic.
The school board voted unanimously to approve the 2022-23 budget on Aug. 22. Board President Corey McEnry said he knew “spending one-third of the fund balance in one year is something that is not to be taken lightly,” and that he hoped district leaders would be able to communicate Camas’ budget constrictions with state legislators ahead of their biennial budget planning in 2023.
“When 88 percent of our budget is salaries and benefits, you can’t balance the budget by spending less on supplies or materials,” McEnry said. “There are a lot of things we need to be advocating for at the state level with our legislators … This is a team lift here.”
To view the 2022-23 Camas School District budget, visit tinyurl.com/4dwfhm39.