Budgeting forces Issaquah to cut spending

Nicole Hume, News Editor

This year, the Issaquah School District has been faced with decreasing student enrollment, with numbers dropping to 18,484 students compared to previous highs of 20,244 students in 2019. As student enrollment drops, the local, state and federal funding for the Issaquah School District also decreases. 

The district is seeing a much larger decrease than expected in funding for the 2022-2023 school year. The largest changes are expected in class sizes, athletic departments, and mental health support.

“A lot of this comes from the elementary schools, but it affects all of us. There are millions of dollars that were lost because of this,” Martin said. 

Recently, the Issaquah School District has passed three levies. A levy is a local property tax that generates revenue for the school district, and these three were aimed at technology, busing, construction, and internal programs.

These have provided more money for the district, but the current outlook shows that the Issaquah School District will be insolvent by 2023-24 without significant changes to the budget. This would mean that the Issaquah School District would be unable to pay back debts and will cause significant financial problems in the future. 

“We’re not going to be able to have as much flexibility, and we are going to have to make a lot of hard choices,” Liberty Principal Sean Martin said. 

The Issaquah School Board has announced new budget cuts to the following programs: PBSES (Positive Behavior and Social Emotional Support), TOSA (Teacher’s on Special Assignment), activities coordinators, and other staffing positions. These would normally provide support to student’s mental health or school activities. 

Class sizes will also increase, especially in the math and science departments, as scheduling and teachers conflict. 

“The first place we might notice it is having math and science class sizes be a bit bigger. We just don’t quite have enough space in everyone’s schedule to deal with it,” Martin said. 

Liberty has already seen the effects of these cuts, with teachers at Liberty voicing their concerns. The athletics department is seeing the most visible change, with Danielle Zelinksi’s job as a full-time Athletic Director being cut from Liberty. 

“My primary concern is that things are going to be left behind. We have a pretty good system here, and I would hate to see anything broken,” Zelinski said. 

Students may wonder about how the budget will affect current projects–such as the new middle and elementary school–in the Issaquah School District, but Superintendent Thiele has already stated that the money for these projects will not be affected since the money from the levy have been set aside previously. 

This means that several schools that are currently being built will be completed in order to address overcrowding at current schools in the district. ASB budgets will also not be affected by the budget change since they are student-generated.