Tumwater School District Board talks 2021-2022 budget during work session


The Tumwater School District Board met for a work session last night via Zoom.

The meeting was facilitated by Amy Cast, a member of the North Shore School District Board for eight years, who is also a leadership team member of the Washington State School Directors Association (WSSDA).

One of the main focuses of the evening was to identify student and community goals for the 2021-2022 school-year and begin the first step in the vision-based budgeting process. Before delving into this, Cast refreshed the board on their role in the district budget process. “According to WASSDA Board Standards, the board’s role in the district budget process consists of:

  • Responsible school district governance
  • Communication of and commitment to high expectations for student learning
  • Creating conditions district-wide for student and staff success
  • Holding the district accountable for student learning
  • Engagement of the community in education

... [and] adopting and monitoring an annual budget that allocates resources based on the district’s vision, goals and priorities for student learning (WSSDA School Board Standard 3e),” said Cast.

The board took the first step in the budgeting process by reflecting on the following questions and identifying what could be improved in the next school year:

  1. Does the board keep the community informed about the financial needs of the school district, and invite public input during the budget process?
  2. Does the board provide guidelines for budget development, including a clearly defined expectation for a reasonable ending fund balance?
  3. Does the board adopt a fiscally responsible annual budget that is aligned with the district’s vision and plan?
  4. Does the board regularly monitor the budget and financial status of the district?

By reflecting on the previous questions, the board started the first step in the long process of budget development. Because district staff are currently busy preparing materials to inform the board of the necessary budget information to drive next school year’s decisions, the board used most of the meeting time allocated to discuss prioritized outcomes for students based on each individual board member's concerns and hopes for the following year, as well as some financial constraints that the pandemic revealed.

Executive Director of Financial Services, Jim Brittain, and Superintendent Sean Dotson presented some of the variables that will impact this year’s budget: enrollment and the 2020-2021 ending fund balance. Typically these variables will also include a look at history and patterns from previous years, but given the unexpected circumstances of this year, there was little to reflect on.

This work session was just the first of several budget-development talks planned. Tumwater’s strategic plan for the 2021-2022 budget will further develop as it goes through revisions. The board approves the final budget in August.


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