Message from Superintendent - Budget Planning
March 7, 2023
I am reaching out to you in an effort to remain transparent and keep all of you informed about our budget planning for the 2023-24 school year. As we have watched our neighboring school districts and districts across the state wrestle with significant budget shortfalls, Oak Harbor Public Schools is not different.
It is important to note that the current state and federal funding is not adequate to meet the level of needs for our students to continue to maintain our level of service over time. With continued and persistent gaps in our state’s funding model for public schools, the sunsetting of federal COVID relief funds, and significant increases in expenses and services, the Oak Harbor Public Schools will be facing unique budget challenges in the coming year. While we have been addressing these budget shortfalls over the course of the past few years through conservative budgeting, maintaining our required 3-5% reserve (savings), and the use of the temporary federal COVID relief spending, we will need to make a more thoughtful attempt to reduce our expenses for the upcoming school year.
In preparation for these reductions, our district team of administrators, directors, union leadership, and key stakeholders have engaged in thoughtful and creative solutions to reduce spending while maintaining key programs and services to best support our children’s academic success and emotional well-being. We believe that we can accomplish much of our reduction through staff turnover without compromising programs or direct services to support students.
School budgets are complex and there are many things that impact decision-making and budget planning. Until legislators fully and properly fund public education, in particular Special Education, Food Services and Transportation, and stop enforcing unfunded mandates, we will continue to engage in difficult conversations about budget reductions now, and well into the future.
Luckily, with the short-term federal COVID relief funds that were provided to schools across our state over the course of these past three years, we’ve been able to make great strides to help our students reset and recover during the pandemic. We have learned that while these funds will sunset at the end of August 2023, the work our staff have done post-pandemic has been remarkable and our services for recovery will continue across all of our schools.
Thanks to our community's generous support, our local levy dollars have and will continue to be crucial to maintaining these vital programs and student services that our community values. To learn more about our local levy dollars and how they directly support our students please visit our OHPS website.
We will be sure to keep our staff and community informed throughout the budget process. We value your support and always appreciate your input. Thank you for your continued collaboration and partnership.