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Finances Overview

This section of the Community Report provides a snapshot of the district's finances and factors that affect our budget. For a complete report including a line by line operations budget, please see our Guide to Understanding the Financial Plan.

image of kindergarten ride alongOperating Budget

The Superintendent, working with the Chief of Finance and Operations, prepares an operating budget prior to the beginning of each school year which must be approved by the School Board and submitted to the state Superintendent of Public Instruction before August 31.

Our District has been recognized for its fiscal management (such as keeping administrative costs more than 3.4 percentage points below the King County average) by earning the highest bond rating on Moody's (Aaa) and the Standard & Poor's scale (AA+) of any school district in the state.

For 2016-2017, the District had a $235.4 million operations budget which was used to fund all programs, services, textbooks and materials, salaries, in short everything needed to run the District day to day.

The majority of the District's operating budget is provided by the state on a per-pupil basis. However, this formula does not fully cover the cost of a modern education, and the District relies on a local maintenance and operations (M&O) levy to provide more than 20 cents of every operations dollar. The M&O levy helps cover the gap between what the state provides and the actual cost of staff salaries, transportation, and special education services.

Issaquah ranked 269 out of 295 state school districts in 2016-2017 in per-pupil funding (Issaquah received $10,166 per student, compared to the state average of $10,937). 

State Funding and McCleary

From 2009-10 to 2011-12 (3 fiscal years) the District had cumulative reductions in state funding totaling nearly $16 million.  State funding as a percentage of District revenues dropped from 68% in 2008-09 to 60.8% in 2012-13. The trend of declining state revenue subsided in 2012-13 and for budget years, 2013-14 through 2016-17, there was an actual increase in state revenue. State revenue has continued to grow in 2017-18 and will comprise 64.2% of the District’s operating revenue, an increase of 0.30% over the fiscal year 2016-17. The State was still 3.8% below the recent historical peak in state funding as a percentage of total operating revenue. 

The aforementioned reduction in state revenue during the “great recession” was devastating to the education systems across the nation and State of Washington. However, we in Issaquah were very fortunate that during this economic downturn our local voters supported a four-year maintenance and operations levy with increased funding for our schools. The change in statute which allows for this increase expires in 2018 and provides an additional $15M a calendar year in funding. The State legislature has continued to gradually increase education funding pursuant to the McCleary decision, however a large portion of this “new” revenue came in the form of COLA’s (salary increases) and actuarially needed pension rate contributions. Some additional non-categorical revenue has been provided, but the bulk of “new” state revenue is focused on class size reduction for 2017-18. 

Bonds and Levies

Outside of the operations budget, district voters can authorize bonds and levies when needed to build new schools and buy school buses and certain pieces of technology. These dollars can be used exclusively for their legally-defined purposes (construction/critical repairs, bus purchases, and technology), and cannot be used to bolster the general operations budget. For example, a school bus levy can be used to buy a bus, but the money to pay the driver, buy fuel, and maintain the bus comes from the operations budget.

The Issaquah community approved three significant 4-year levies in February 2014, which support classroom learning, bus efficiency and safety, and technology. See information on the 2014 school levies here.

To ensure optimal learning and safety, voters also approved a $219 million bond measure in April 2012 that will provide for critical construction and maintenance/repairs for the next eight years.

In addition, voters approved a $533.5 million bond measure in April 2016. This bond provides funding for critical expansion and modernization of district properties, including the purchase of property for and construction of four new schools, rebuilding of Pine Lake Middle School, and expansion and updating of six existing elementary schools.

Continued Support

In sum, our classrooms do amazing work creating the highest standards of educational program with limited resources. We are fortunate to have continued great support from the Issaquah Community and groups such as the Issaquah Schools Foundation and PTSA who work alongside us in realizing our mission.