Archived Bargaining Updates and Information

This page contains previously published information about the district’s negotiations with our bargaining units. The most current offers, updates, and background information will be posted on the Bargaining Updates page linked here. Please read those documents first to understand the current state of bargaining.

Q: What is the fund balance? Why does the District need it?

A: The Board of Directors has the authority to establish a minimum fund balance (sometimes referred to as a reserve) to ensure financial stability, prepare for emergencies, meet accounting requirements and maintain a favorable bond rating that makes school construction dollars go further and helps the district qualify for the best interest rates.

Maintaining a healthy fund balance played a critical role in the district securing a strong Aa3 overall financial rating in 2016. Prudent fiscal management has allowed the district to secure the lowest possible interest rates on long-term debt for the voters of Washougal.

The Federal Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) recommends, at a minimum, that general-purpose governments, regardless of size, maintain unrestricted budgetary fund balance in their general fund of no less than two months of regular general fund operating revenues or regular general fund operating expenditures.

In addition, the GFOA suggests that in establishing a policy governing the level of unrestricted fund balance in the general fund, a government should consider a variety of factors, including:

  1. The predictability of its revenues and the volatility of its expenditures (i.e., higher levels of unrestricted fund balance may be needed if significant revenue sources are subject to unpredictable fluctuations or if operating expenditures are highly volatile);
  2. Its perceived exposure to significant one-time outlays (e.g., disasters, immediate capital needs, state budget cuts);
  3. The potential drain upon general fund resources from other funds, as well as, the availability of resources in other funds;
  4. The potential impact on the entity’s bond ratings and the corresponding increased cost of borrowed funds;
  5. Commitments and assignments (i.e., governments may wish to maintain higher levels of unrestricted fund balance to compensate for any portion of unrestricted fund balance already committed or assigned by the government for a specific purpose).  Governments may deem it appropriate to exclude from consideration resources that have been committed or assigned to some other purpose and focus on unassigned fund balance, rather than on unrestricted fund balance.

Q: How is the district’s fund balance categorized?

A. The district’s total fund balance is made up of money that is “unassigned” and “set aside” (committed, restricted, non-spendable). It is similar to a personal savings account. For example, let’s assume your savings account has a balance of $10,000. You have a personal goal of keeping a minimum account balance of $6,000 for unexpected costs or emergencies. In addition, $4,000 is set aside for roof repairs on your house. Of the $10,000 in savings, $6,000 is “unassigned” and $4,000 is “set aside” (committed).

Q: What is the unassigned fund balance?

A: Per Washougal School District Policy 6022, “The district recognizes the importance of maintaining a prudent fund balance in the general fund to ensure operational cash flow needs are met, to set aside resources for known obligations and to help protect against unforeseen circumstances.”  The policy further states it is the responsibility of the superintendent to annually “present a general fund budget that includes a commitment of at least 6 percent of the prior year’s expenditures.”

In the example provided above, the “unassigned” money in the district fund balance is discretionary and will be utilized to fund one-time expenditures, such as capital projects (roofs, parking lots, lighting, etc.) or unforeseen repairs, contingencies and emergency needs.

Washougal School District has worked hard through years of economic challenge to establish a healthy fund balance through prudent fiscal management.

Q: What is the assigned fund balance?

A: The assigned fund balance provided for planned expenditures associated with the new construction projects, including the new K-5 elementary school, replacement of Jemtegaard Middle School, replacement of Excelsior High School, new transportation facility, school entrance security improvements and HVAC system upgrades at Gause and Hathaway Elementary Schools.

The assigned fund balance is earmarked for the equitable and adequate equipping of district classrooms as we complete the projects that are included in the 2015 bond.  It is critical to the district’s commitment to the community to ensure adequate resources to fully meet the community’s expectations.

Q: What does the district use its fund balance for?

A: The fund balance resources are one-time revenues that can only be used for one-time expenses, as they are not self-replenishing from year to year.  The fund balance is used for capital facilities projects, maintenance on district investments including the turf field, and anticipating rising costs such as transportation fuel costs. A healthy fund balance helps the district respond to fluctuations in the economy, such as inflation.

Reserve funds were used as legally intended for one-time expenditures such as classroom furniture, fixtures, maintenance equipment, and the overhaul of the district’s phone system. Reserve funds have also paid for projects to ensure equity across all schools, for example sound systems at all schools and curriculum adoption at all schools.

One-time expenditures do not obligate the district to continue funding specific programs, projects or activities.  Ongoing expenditures, such as salaries and related benefits, are recurring expenses that reduce the fund balance if there is not an associated revenue source to replace the funds.

Most businesses, including school districts, carry a minimum unassigned fund balance for emergencies, loss of enrollment or other unanticipated events.  Generally, school districts in the region maintain an unassigned fund balance between 5% and 8%.  As a general rule, smaller districts have fund balances that are higher as a percentage than bigger districts.  Fluctuations in enrollment and apportionment (funding) can have a bigger impact in smaller school systems like Washougal, where these changes might not be offset by opposing changes.

Q:  Does the district maintain a sufficient fund balance?

A:  Yes.  The district has set aside a sufficient unassigned fund balance in order to meet the emergencies and unforeseen expenses that can surface in the course of school operations.

The district has also set aside assigned funds in order to appropriately complete the projects that were identified in the bond program and support additional projects identified in the long range capital facilities program review in 2015.

Q. Why does the district need higher reserves?  

A: According to the Washington State Auditors’ FIT tool, in the section on Cash Balance Sufficiency, “The Cash Balance Sufficiency indicator shows, at a point in time, how many days the balance in the general fund would be able to cover operating expenditures. FIT Guideline: The general fund should be able to cover operating expenditures for at least 60 days.”

The district has reserves to ensure operational cash flow needs are met, and to set aside resources for known obligations and to protect against unforeseen circumstances. .

Q: Has the district reserve fluctuated from year to year?
A: Yes, the reserve has dropped over the past year as reserve funds were used for capital facilities projects, including the completion of three new schools and a new transportation facility.

Q: Isn’t the district receiving more money from the state due to recent legislation?
A. The recent legislation changes how schools in our state are funded. Washougal School District will receive more money from the state, but it will lose local levy revenue.

Class size has been a priority in the Washougal School District (WSD) for some time. The Washougal Association of Educators (WAE) and WSD Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) sets goals for class sizes. If the number of students in a class exceeds the contract goals, there are remedies such as, additional compensation or support by a paraprofessional.

While not every section of our K-5 classes have been below the average, the district wide average class size across all sections at each grade level has been below the stated goal in the CBA every year since 2014. In a district our size, it would be burdensome to our students and families to try to perfectly average class sizes between the four elementary schools so that every section is below the goal.

Hiring an additional teacher to resolve overload for one or two students at a grade level is an incredibly expensive proposition, with each teacher costing an average of $89,000 when factoring salary plus contractually obligated benefits.  The contract provides other remedies, including blended grade classrooms, providing paraeducator supports or overload pay, which are much more sustainable. This year and in previous years, the district has provided additional teacher support staffing when multiple grades are in overloads in a school.  This support allows the principal to work with school staff to provide supports in English/Language Arts, Math or other core subjects, allowing additional personal attention for students when learning these important subject areas.  These teachers are shared across grade levels in a way that is sustainable and helps remedy the overload.

In the tables linked below, you will find a comparison between the goal numbers outlined in the contract and the current average number of students per elementary classroom for the 2017-18 school year (Table 1). If you would like to review the data from the previous three school years, Table 2, 3, and 4 have that data.

  • Table 1 – 2017-2018 data shows 90% of sections meet target, and all grade bands in K-5 had an average below the target size
  • Table 2 – 2016-2017 data  95.2% of sections met target, and all grade bands in K-5 had an average below the target size
  • Table 3 – 2015-2016 data  86.2% of sections met target, and all grade bands in K-5 had an average below the target size
  • Table 4 – 2014-2015 data 94.6% of sections met target, and all grade bands in K-5 had an average below the target size

All four tables linked above are available here in one printable pdf.

The table below shows a year by year comparison of teacher salary, TRI pay, Total Compensation, and the increase teachers have received since the 2014-2015 school year in at various points on the salary schedule.

PLEASE NOTE – The table below was provided to provide historical context and the district’s baseline proposal.  It has not yet been updated with the District’s revised offer, included in a settlement package presented on July 11, 2018.  To find information about that package, please scroll up, or use this link.

Beginning Teacher  2014-15  2015-16  2016-17  2017-18 WSD Baseline Proposal
2018-19
Base Salary  $34,048  $35,069  $35,700  $36,521  $43,206
TRI  $2,081  $3,006  $3,797  $4,927
Total Compensation  $36,129  $38,075  $ 39,497  $41,448  $43,206
Year by Year Increase 5.39% 3.73% 4.94% 4.24%
Increase since SY 14-15 9.32% 14.72% 19.59%
 BA+45 Step 5  2014-15  2015-16  2016-17  2017-18 WSD Baseline Proposal
2018-19
Base Salary  $39,498  $40,683  $41,415  $42,367  $50,122
TRI  $2,414  $3,487  $4,404  $5,716
Total Compensation  $41,912  $44,170  $45,819  $48,083  $50,122
Year by Year Increase 5.39% 3.73% 4.94% 4.24%
Increase since SY 14-15 9.32% 14.72% 19.59%
 MA Step 10  2014-15  2015-16  2016-17  2017-18 WSD Baseline Proposal
2018-19
Base Salary  $48,724  $50,185  $51,088  $52,263  $61,830
TRI  $2,978  $4,302  $5,433  $7,051
Total Compensation  $51,702  $54,487  $56,521  $59,314  $61,830
Year by Year Increase 5.39% 3.73% 4.94% 4.24%
Increase since SY 14-15 9.32% 14.72% 19.59%
 MA+90 Step 16+  2014-15  2015-16  2016-17  2017-18 WSD Baseline Proposal
2018-19
Base Salary  $64,174  $66,099  $67,288  $68,836  $81,436
TRI  $3,922  $5,666  $7,156  $9,287
Total Compensation  $68,096  $71,765  $74,444  $78,123  $81,436
Year by Year Increase 5.39% 3.73% 4.94% 4.24%
Increase since SY 14-15 9.32% 14.73% 19.59%

PLEASE NOTE – The table below was provided to provide historical context and the district’s baseline proposal.  It has not yet been updated with the District’s revised offer, included in a settlement package presented on July 11, 2018.  To find information about that package, please scroll up, or use this link.

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