Latest News and Updates
Consolidation Community Roundtable on Nov. 29 at 6 p.m. in Highland's library. Join us!
Watch BSD's 2023-24 Budget presentation to the school board.
In the news
Send your comments and feedback to the District by emailing MSConsolidation@bsd405.org.
▶️ Complete the Community Feedback Survey
The District needs your feedback. The Middle School Consolidation Study Feedback is located here.
El Distrito necesita sus comentarios. Los comentarios sobre el estudio de consolidación de la escuela intermedia se encuentran aquí.
What aspects of the Middle School experience are important to you AND
Should BSD consider consolidating a school OR continuing to operate five schools resulting in reduced programs and services?
What worries you about this process?
How will your family be impacted if Highland closes? What priorities or factors are important and do you BSD should consider?
El distrito desea saber:
¿Qué aspectos de la experiencia de la escuela intermediaria son importantes para usted?
¿Debería BSD considerar consolidar una escuela O continuar operando cinco escuelas, lo que resultaría en una reducción de programas y servicios?
¿Qué te preocupa de este proceso?
¿Cómo se verá afectada su familia si Highland cierra?
▶️ Speak at a School Board Meeting (Dec. 7 or 14)
you need to register here to speak, but simply attending and displaying a support poster will also help!
Send emails to the BSD School Board: firstname.lastname@example.org
▶️ Contact our Legislators to Advocate for Fully-funded Education
BSD Answers Frequently Asked Questions
The district has been compiling a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the Middle School Consolidation Study. Find out more at https://bsd405.org/departments/finance/middle-school-enrollment-consolidation-study/faq/#ms-faq-10
Read the Demographers' Reports
For the Middle School Consolidation Study, the district is utilizing two demographers to provide us with an enrollment forecast out to 2030. Along with the two demographer reports, the district is providing historical enrollment trends, school capacity utilization, future enrollment, and the impact of declining enrollment on programs and services.
How can I give my feedback and share concerns?
Thu., Oct. 26 from 6 - 7:30 p.m - Participate in BSD’s Community Forum at Highland to ask questions, share feedback, and concerns, and show your support for Highland.
Email your questions, comments, and feedback to MSConsolidation@bsd405.org.
Share your own story and concerns with the School Board by emailing them at email@example.com (subject “Public Comment”). You can also leave a voicemail or text: (425) 584-1586 in your preferred language.
Speak and encourage your child to speak at the School Board meetings to show your support and make your voice heard.
Become a member of your PTA/PTSA and advocate for fully-funded education!
Stay in touch with Highland PTSA updates on Facebook or by reading the newsletter.
October 26 at 6 p.m. - Attend Highland Community Engagement Forum
Online Community Engagement Opportunities Dates
The District has scheduled additional opportunities to participate online. Participants must register in advance for the online session (max 50 participants) they would like to attend. Additional sessions are based on demand.
Please register here.
Friday, October 27, 2023 (English) 10:00 – 11:00 am
Wednesday, November 1 (Spanish) 5:00 – 6:00 pm
Wednesday, November 1 (Mandarin) 5:00 – 6:00 pm
Wednesday, November 1 (Korean) 5:00 – 6:00 pm
Thursday, November 2 (English) 5:00 – 6:00 pm
Friday, November 3 (English) 7:00 – 8:00 am
The goals for the online community listening sessions are:
Outline the challenge we are addressing
Describe the Consolidation Study Process
Build a shared understanding of demographers' findings
Gather input and questions
The complete list of events with links to the full agenda can be found here.
In-person Community Forums Dates
Community forums will be held where participants will review the demographers' findings, discuss the implications, and share thoughts with district leaders. The schedule for these meetings is as follows:
Chinook – Monday, October 23, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Tillicum – Tuesday, October 24, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Highland – Thursday, October 26, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
These meetings are open to all members of the public and ensure one meeting for the schools in each middle school attendance zone — including the elementary schools and the high school(s) it sends students to.
Participants at each forum will have the option to attend smaller sessions for groups that will be impacted such as dual language, advanced learning, etc., or groups that have been historically marginalized or underserved in our education system.
Participants will have the opportunity to provide both group and individual feedback on a survey.
Language translation and interpretation will be available for families at all engagements.
BSD Middle School Consolidation Study Timeline
November to December 2023
Synthesize community feedback
Share summary of feedback and considerations from community forums through additional community engagement
Equitable and targeted outreach to specific groups
Superintendent and team develop a draft recommendation
Sintetizar los comentarios de la comunidad
Comparta un resumen de comentarios y consideraciones de los foros de la comunidad a través de una participación comunitaria adicional.
Alcance equitativo y dirigido a grupos específicos
El superintendente y el equipo desarrollan una recomendación preliminar
Share draft recommendation with the community through a School Board meeting, email, and on the district website.
Conduct community forums and surveys to gather feedback on the recommendation
Equitable and targeted outreach to specific groups
Superintendent revises recommendations based on community feedback
Realizar foros comunitarios y encuestas para recopilar comentarios sobre la recomendación.
Alcance equitativo y dirigido a grupos específicos
El superintendente revisa las recomendaciones basadas en los comentarios de la comunidad
Superintendent presents recommendation to the School Board for approval.
El superintendente presenta una recomendación a la Junta Escolar para su aprobación.
Frequently Asked Questions about School Funding
Why is this happening?
Student enrollment is down and projected to continue declining until 2030. Since the district is funded by the State of Washington on a per-pupil basis, any decline in enrollment means an immediate loss of funds the district has available. Along with the two demographer reports, the district is providing historical enrollment trends, school capacity utilization, future enrollment, and the impact of declining enrollment on programs and services.
Has this happened before?
Yes. BSD’s history includes several school closures and consolidations, which also come with stories of their impact on people and communities. The last round of consolidation closed two elementary schools: Eastgate and Wilburton. Jing Mei, BSD's Mandarin immersion school has moved to Wilburton's building. BSD plans to move Big Picture to Eastgate's school building sometime in the future.
What is Bellevue School District's budget shortfall?
The budget shortfall was initially estimated in February 2023 at $31 million. However, after the legislative session and additional revenue calculations, the budget shortfall dropped to $24.2 million, or 6.3% of the 2022/2023 budgeted expenditures.
Additional Revenue Calculations
Increase in MSOC per pupil funding by $426,000 (Maintenance, Supplies, and Operating Costs)
Increase in special education multiplier by $2,100,000, however, the state still underfunds Special Education by $24 million for BSD.
Changes in student demographics resulting in additional funding of $3,250,000
Miscellaneous other income: $1,150,000
Read Bellevue School District's 2023-24 Budget Overview Presentation.
What does our district offer that is not funded by the State?
Additional school staff (smaller class sizes at all levels)
7-period school day in middle and high schools (state only funds 6 periods).
This has an impact in high school because with 6 periods students only get 24 credits (the amount needed to graduate). If for some reason they struggle in one class, they will have to retake the class during the summer. Students would not be able to take 4 years of music AND world language in high school to meet all the graduation requirements.
Tutorial at middle schools and high schools
World languages in middle school
Additional school nurses (state only funds 4 nurses for the entire district)
Student programs not fully funded by the state including:
STEM programs, AP classes and testing
Opportunities for students not funded by the state including:
Orchestra, band, music, and art in elementary schools
After school activities (staff advisors)
The district consolidated two elementary schools. Didn't that fix the budget?
Unfortunately no. The fact that enrollment numbers continue to decrease and operational costs continue to rise (lunches, transportation, cost of living, inflation, ...) the district still needs to make additional cuts to balance the budget. So far the district hasn't presented a list of possible scenarios but consolidation of a middle school and cuts to some programs and activities are on the table. Looking back at previous budget presentations, families can expect cuts or reductions to programs not funded by the state: 7-period days in middle school, music/art education in elementary school, extracurricular and athletics activities, etc.
How are public schools funded in Washington State?
Districts receive funds from multiple sources:
State General Funding: Based on student enrollment and the state's model of assumed staffing needed to run a typical school.
Specific Categorical State Funding for specific activities and supports: transportation, special education services, and literacy supports. Usually, funding from the state is less than the actual cost for many districts.
Federal Government Funding for special education and support of students experiencing poverty.
Local Bonds and Levies: Need to be reapproved by voters every 4 years. The last levy was approved in 2022. More info: https://bsd405.org/about/school-levies/
For more information on K-12 education funding in WA State, read A Citizen's Guide to Washington State K-12 Finance.
What is the difference between bonds and levies?
In general, levies provide for learning, maintenance, and operations. Bonds are used to construct buildings, purchase property or modernize existing facilities. Specific use of funds in these designations is restricted by state law. State law prohibits monies approved for construction to be used for learning programs and staff. This means, even if Bellevue School District sells property, they wouldn't be allowed to use that money for to pay teacher salaries or other on-going costs of day-to-day operations.
Another way to think about the difference is levies are like paychecks. Paychecks come in at regular intervals and families must budget expenses on that schedule. School district levy “paychecks” arrive twice a year - in the spring and fall when property taxes are typically paid — for the levy's duration as approved by voters. Use of those dollars are budgeted as these levy funds become available.
Bonds are structured similarly to home mortgages. Schools borrow the money upfront and then repay it with interest over time. Typically, bonds are used for new construction or larger remodeling projects. BSD used bonds to rebuild all our amazing school schools.
Do all public schools receive state funding?
Yes, but some get more than others. An exception to the formula was allowed and some districts’ teacher salary schedules were “grandfathered” at a higher percentage of the adopted state salary schedule.
The Basic Education Act of 1977 set a formula for sending state funds to school districts. The basic formula gives each district a certain dollar amount for each full-time equivalent (FTE) student - each student attending school all day. For each student who needs extra services, such as special education programs, advanced learning, or bilingual education (MLL), there are state and federal formulas for supplemental support. Districts that employ teachers with advanced degrees get extra funds for salaries. Districts with fewer than 300 students also receive extra money.
Why is WA State funding considered inadequate?
There are several areas of education that the state does not fully fund as part of basic education. Examples include classroom support, special education services, the cost of substitute teachers, building maintenance, security staff including school resource officers, elective classes and Advanced Placement testing, as well as student activities and athletics.
Additionally, the state does not fund all the staff necessary to operate essential services and programs to students such as learning assistants (paraeducators), counselors, and school nurses. The state’s funding formula for K–12 education, called the Prototypical School Funding Model, sets student-to-staff ratios based on a study completed in 1977. The state provides funding that is calculated to be adequate for a certain number of teachers, principals, librarians, instructional aides, nurses and other staff based on student population. The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), the agency that oversees K-12 public instruction in the state, then issues money to the districts based on what that minimum staffing would be.
Education is vastly different 50 years later, but the Prototypical School Funding Model has not been substantially updated to account for modern educational needs. The majority of districts are left to figure out how to pay for these services and programs on their own.
Didn't the McCleary decision require the state to fully fund education?
What's the McCleary decision?
Watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eg5RuRSKigE
After the McCleary decision (2017), state legislators changed property taxes with the intent of fully funding basic education and lowering local school taxes, not for the purpose of eliminating local school levies.
The state increased what it collects statewide in property taxes for basic education, and capped what school districts could collect locally at $2.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The McCleary decision also regionalized state revenue amounts. Those districts located in areas where the costs of living were higher received more revenue – up to 124% more of the base dollars. The decision also emphasized the importance of addressing disparities in educational opportunities among schools in different areas, so that all students across the state would have an equitable chance to succeed.
The reality is state funding still falls short. The initial increase after 2017 in state funding for public schools has not only stopped, but after 2020 it stalled and even shrank when you adjust for inflation. Yet districts have seen their costs rise, especially after the dislocations of the pandemic and record inflation.
What about the ESSER funds (COVID relief funds)?
The ARP ESSER fund, authorized by the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), provides funding to schools to support sustained safe building reopenings and operations while meeting the academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs of students resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
An OSPI chart shows that one-time federal funding from pandemic stimulus, as well as local levies, are making up the difference between state funding and actual costs. Now that the federal stimulus funding stopped, districts will face even larger cuts because they need to figure out how they'll pay for programs and staff funded with those funds.
We pay a lot of property taxes. Where did all the money go?
WA State collects taxes for the state, the county, cities, and taxing districts like schools. Then they distribute the revenue back to them. Taxes also fund voter-approved measures for veterans, seniors, fire protection, and parks. Even if a large part of our property taxes goes to funding education, those dollars do not come back to Bellevue School District.
Is there a limit to the amount of levy money a district can ask?
Yes. Districts may only collect a maximum percentage of their annual state (and some federal) revenue allocations. This maximum is known as the “Levy Lid.” This percentage is set by the state Legislature and the lid amount varies as some districts were grandfathered in at a higher percentage when the law went into effect. If the levy collected is greater than the amount prescribed by the lid, only the voter-approved amount may be collected. These lids aim to balance local funding efforts with state-level equity in education funding.
In 2019, maintenance and operations levies proposed by local school districts and approved by voters were replaced by enrichment levies. Since 2020, for districts with less than 40,000 full-time students, the levy cap for voter-approved enrichment levies is capped at the lesser of:
$2.50 per $1,000 of assessed value, or
$2,500 per full-time equivalent (FTE) student, adjusted by inflation for taxes due in 2021 and later. At the last levy election, BSD was capped at $2663 per FTE student.
Can a district borrow money to cover deficits?
A district needs to operate on a balanced budget. To "borrow money", a district needs to accept "Binding Conditions" with the state. OSPI will step in and impose cuts and budget consolidation. For more information on School District Binding Conditions and Financial Oversight visit https://ospi.k12.wa.us/sites/default/files/2023-08/schooldistrictbindingconditionsandfinancialoversight.pdf
Can't BSD balance the budget with a new bond?
By state law, bond money must be used for school construction and improvement. Bond projects can address building’s systems, such as air conditioning, HVAC, and plumbing, or its physical structures, such as the windows, restrooms, kitchens, and gyms. All funding is used for constructing or maintaining buildings.
Legally, bond money cannot be used for operational expenses, salaries or anything else.
WA State K-12 Funding in the News
Seattle Public Schools
Capital Gain Tax
Other School District Funding News