As Lynden School District continues to grow at rates previously not seen — 2019-20 enrollment is close to 3500 students — and staff continues to provide high-level education to support the needs of every student in the district, there are still gaps in state funding that makes a local levy necessary to ensure programs and services for students continue.
The recent changes to state funding for schools was aimed at providing resources for salaries and benefits, and to close the gap between state and federal funds and the actual cost to educate students and operate schools. However, the new funding formulas and system did not fill all the gaps necessary to fund basic education and therefore a local levy is still necessary to provide for the needs of students and school district operations.
In February 2020, a replacement Maintenance and Operations (M&0) Levy will be on the ballot but renamed an Enrichment Levy. As with past M&O Levies the Enrichment Levy will support all school district programs, everything from additional staff to extra-curricular activities, highly capable learner programs to school nurses, additional counselors and teachers, and support staff for maintaining facilities and grounds to necessary materials and supplies, to name a few.
In the past the M&O Levy made up between 20 to 24 percent of the total budget, however with new guidelines the new levy will make up between 12 to 15 percent of the total budget.
In addition to the Enrichment Levy, the Lynden School Board, is considering a Technology and Facility Levy to address the increasing integration of technology, larger cost facility maintenance projects, and additional school safety needs. Aa specific levy to address these needs may also be proposed on the February ballot.
“Over the past few years we have been working on a plan to address large cost repairs, such as roofs, building envelopes, safety components, and mechanical systems in our older buildings,” says Jim Frey, superintendent. “These more expensive projects do not fit within our regular operating budget and are essential in order to maintain district assets and provide a safe and healthy environment for students.”
Technology has become a critical and integral part of the district’s educational program and in order to provide for a sustainable academic program, there is a need to establish a mechanism to equip classrooms with appropriate tools for learning, maintain a reasonable replacement cycle for staff and student-accessible devices, and provide professional development to effectively integrate technology into classroom instruction.
While the district has made strides in updating school safety over the previous few years, there is more to be done to ensure that alarm systems, communication systems, and our older schools are up to modern safety standards
Frey says the school board is working to ensure a safe environment and provide for a high-quality education for all students while maximizing the resources that have been entrusted to the school district. And the growth of the community and the district are presenting some challenges in keeping up with the growing needs beyond what available resources are able to provide.
As the Lynden School District continues to grow, the school board is working to ensure educational programs, school facilities, and opportunities for students keep pace.