• As we've shared with you previously, BISD projects it will need to cut $2.1 million from next year's school budget. 

    We have received many questions from the community and media and developed the following Frequently Asked Questions Regarding BISD'S Budget. 

    Budget FAQ   



    March 2017


    When reading these questions, please remember:


    The Capital Fund pays for construction and building renovations.

    The General Fund pays for teacher salaries, supplies, utilities etc.

    Laws are in place disallowing money from one fund to pay for another. For example, money cannot be taken from the 2016 bond and used to pay for teacher salaries.


    1.  What is the estimated general fund shortfall for the 2017-18 school year?

    • Bainbridge Island School District (BISD) projects it will need to make cuts in the range of $2.1M.

    2. Why does the district need to make these cuts?

    • There are many factors at play:

      • Staff Salaries: High-quality teachers have the greatest impact on a student’s education. Last school year, BISD realized staff salaries were falling behind those of neighboring districts. To remain competitive and attract and retain excellent staff, we committed to increasing salaries. This increase affects the general fund.

      • Declining Enrollment: It is projected that for the 2017-18 school year, there will be approximately 94 fewer students than the current year. On average, the district receives (from state and federal dollars) about $6,500 per full-time student, per year. BISD needs to staff to enrollment.

      • Lack of State Funding: BISD invested in programs and staff with the belief that the state would fully fund education. However, the state hasn’t fulfilled its duty and BISD no longer has the reserves to pay for some of these programs/staff.

    3. How long has the district known it would need to make cuts for next year?

    • In August 2016 it was clear that the current general fund budget was unsustainable. However, we didn’t know the projected amount we needed to cut until early February 2017.

    4. The voters just approved two levies. Why couldn’t you request more money from voters?

    • The state legislature limits the amount school districts can collect from their communities. This is known as the levy lid. By law, districts cannot collect more than the lid allows.

    5. Why weren’t voters informed of the general fund budget challenges prior to the election?

    • Challenges were noted in the island-wide levy mailer, but at the time of printing (early January), the full extent was not known. Historically in late winter, the district begins planning for the following school year. When doing so, many facets are analyzed:

      • How is the current school year’s budget shaping up? Are there areas that will need to be addressed or adjusted for the following year?

      • What is the enrollment projection for the next year?

      • What will the state provide?

    • Had the Educational Programs & Operation levy not passed, the district would be facing even bigger cuts of $12.1 M. We never intended to mislead the community about the general fund budget. Our intent was to have a comprehensive and clear picture of the general fund budget challenges before publicly announcing the amount. We went public with the information as soon as we knew the targeted amount to cut. Originally, we estimated needing to cut $2.1 to $3.2M, but thanks to elected officials for passing the levy extension in early March, we anticipate needing to cut at the lower range. 

    6. How is BISD planning on cutting the budget by $2.1 M?

    • Staffing to enrollment should save more than $1M. The Human Resources department is currently projecting staffing models for next year, based on expected enrollment and natural attrition.

    • Currently, the District Budget Advisory Committee (DBAC) is in the process of analyzing the budget and exploring other areas for reductions.

    7. How does the district project enrollment?

    • BISD analyzes enrollment numbers and looks for trends. You can view enrollment history here. (Click on School Apportionment and Financial Services and then select “Reports” on the left-hand side, >District Reports and select Bainbridge from the drop-down menu in the center of the page.)  Please note we use the October enrollment as the base for the year. Full Time Equivalent (FTE) enrollment is what our funding is based on, while headcount shows how many students accessed BISD services. For example, a student who is enrolled part-time will show up as .5 FTE, but will count as one in the headcount.

    • We have hired a demographer to help project future enrollment and his report is due in early April. Please note: the demographer bases his report on headcount.

    8. Where can I learn more about this? How can I share my thoughts?

    • Attend the Community Information Night on March 22 at 7 p.m. in the Commodore Commons.


    10. What amount did voters approve in the 2016 bond measure?

    • In 2016, voters approved an $81.2 million bond measure that included replacing Blakely Elementary ($39 million), replacing the Bainbridge High School 100 Building ($30 million) and district-wide repairs & renovations ($12.2 million).

    11. What is the estimated cost to rebuild Blakely?

    • Estimates fluctuate throughout the design process. At schematic design, the School Board approved maximum construction cost of $43,098,378 with $2,574,049 identified for contingency during construction.  

    12. Why is Blakely over budget?

    • Blakely is not significantly over the Master Plan cost estimate. When voters were asked to approve the 2016 bond, we knew it would cost more than $39M to rebuild Blakely. At the time, it was projected Blakely would cost approximately $45M. We chose to ask for only $39M because other resources were identified that could contribute to the project.  

    13. Why didn’t you ask the voters for the full amount to rebuild Blakely?

    • We did not want to overcharge our taxpayers when we believed we had other money available. The district planned to use money from the following sources:  

    • Unspent Blakely essential renovations dollars: For example, the Blakely roof replacement was postponed with patch and repair in anticipation of a complete building replacement.

    • Class size reduction grant: OSPI estimated that the district would receive $1.26M for additional classrooms.  Due to the enormity of responses, OSPI was unable to fill all of the grant requests, including BISD’s.

    • Anticipated interest earnings: Interest is earned on unspent capital fund balances.

    • Balance from 2009 projects: Implementing cost-saving measures such as prudent project management and accessing in-house staff in lieu of hiring outside consultants.

    14.  How will BISD come up with the money now that Blakely needs additional funds?

    • The district reallocated funds from the renovation dollars from the 2016, 2009 and 2006 bonds. We confirmed with our bond attorney that it is acceptable to move funds among projects, in recognition that school districts need the flexibility to manage projects and to account for changes in construction costs, timing and need. The election resolution approved by voters allows BISD to determine how the funds are applied among the various projects listed in the resolution.  

    • After reallocating funds for Blakely, 83% of the total essential renovation fund (from 2016 and 2009 bonds) remains for district-wide use.

    15. Why don’t you build a smaller Blakely? You say enrollment is declining, so why build such a big school?

    • The district is committed to building 50+ year schools. Our buildings are designed to meet current, best-practice programmatic needs while also maximizing flexibility. As educational programs evolve, our buildings need to allow for change and the ability to address future growth trends. The plan is to build Blakely classroom spaces for 450 students.

    16. Why are you moving forward with rebuilding Blakely when the district asked the Board of Directors to declare a fiscal emergency at its March 9, 2017 meeting?

    • Capital funds cannot be used to pay for general fund expenses (staff salaries, supplies, electricity, etc.).

    • In accordance with the collective bargaining agreement between the school district and the Bainbridge Island Educational Support Professional Association, BISD must declare a fiscal emergency confirmed by the board of directors prior to laying off staff.

    Still have questions? Email the Community Relations Department and we will do our best to answer them and add them to the list.

    On March 22, 2017, the district held a community meeting on the budget challenges. Click here to view the presentation.