The arrival of spring offers an anticipated and welcomed development! Spring Break is in full bloom and the week historically represents a marker on the progression of our collective school year. For me personally, March 31 marked the one-year anniversary of the Lynden School Board of Directors selecting me to lead the students and staff and serve the families and community stakeholders of Lynden. It’s been a genuine blessing and I’ve appreciated the thoughtful support, ongoing prayers, and willingness of others to engage authentically in the service of students.
I want to spend time updating you on our budget development for the 2023-2024 school year. Like many other districts across the state, we must make difficult decisions to reduce overall expenditures and reprioritize resources to align more closely with funding levels. An added challenge is the uncertainty caused by having to wait for the legislature to finalize budgets and bills. I’m optimistic there will be enhancements within the final budgets but also understand the importance of taking a measured, cautious approach to budget planning. We are currently forecasting a 2023-2024 budget shortfall of approximately $4.2 million. The main contributors are the loss of ESSER (COVID relief) dollars, staffing levels beyond those funded by the state through its prototypical funding model, inflationary increases, and rising compensation costs.
Leadership staff and I have been working over the past few months to identify potential areas of cost savings. It is incredibly difficult to consider reductions at a time when student needs are so great and service expectations understandably high. We’ll continue to navigate these difficult decisions with the assistance of our Budget Development Guiding Principles. Once the State Legislature adopts a budget at the conclusion of the current session scheduled for April 23, I’ll be presenting a recommended 2023-2024 budget reduction plan to the Board of Directors at its April 27 meeting. Next year’s operating budget will not be adopted until August which will allow opportunity for community members to engage in the budget development process. A series of town hall-type meetings are scheduled for this spring with the May 8 session focused on school finance.
Every student, every day is an ambitious vision of tradition, pride, and excellence but one Lynden Schools is wholly committed to. We remain focused on our four areas of strategic priorities and look forward to engaging community stakeholders in aligning our programs to the hopes and dreams you have for our schools. Parents and guardians serving as the first and most important teacher in a young person’s life is the secret sauce for students to persevere, grow, and thrive. It isn’t always an easy journey but I’m confident the long-game results will be positive if our decisions and advocacy remain centered on the well-being of children.
In addition to the core academic programs taking place in our classrooms each day, students are participating in school and community clubs, activities, and athletics at levels like we’ve never seen before. The broader Lynden community understands the importance of nurturing interests and providing opportunities for connection. I want to thank ALL of the youth organizations and individuals who donate their time and compassion to invest in the development of others. The Lynden community is blessed greatly by the range of diverse options available to kids, and the Lynden School District is grateful for the opportunity to be a contributor to this highly valued community priority.
Wishing you and your loved ones a beautiful and bountiful spring season.
Lynden Schools Superintendent