March 28, 2019

Walk up to any student here and ask them to guess how much it costs to run Liberty for a day, and you’ll hear guesses not even close to the true number.
“Does it cost $10,000 a day?” junior Kelly Ferrera said. “I honestly have no idea.”
“I’d guess $3,000,” senior Helen Le said.
“A couple thousand, maybe more,” senior Lili Galluzzo said.
“$45,000,” junior McKaye Noel said.
“$1,500,” sophomore Ashlee Kennedy said.
“Is it like $50,000?” freshman Serena Sherwood said.
“$30,000,” senior Keith Browitt said.
Actually, the cost to run Liberty is surprisingly high: $83,000 for each day the school is open.
“That’s crazy,” senior Justin Ung said when told the real number. “How can it cost that much?”
There are, in fact, many expenses involved with running a public high school. With just a little thought, some of these are obvious, such as paying teachers and heating the building. But there are many more costs than might first meet the eye: insurance, for example, and maintenance.
To cover all its expenses, Liberty is allocated $15,000,000 per year by the Issaquah School District. Martin Turney, the District’s Executive Director of Finance, broke down how that money is used.
For day-to-day utilities, the cost is not a large portion of that $15,000,000.
“It costs about $400,000 a year for electricity, garbage, and water, all that kind of stuff,” Turney said.
Insurance, as well, is a not a massive cost.
“We pay insurance as a district,” Turney said, “so you’d have to estimate how much applies to Liberty. In terms of the big dollars, it’s a much smaller amount than, say, wages or utilities.”
Wages are the largest expense of day-to-day costs.
“Half of that $15,000,000 goes toward paying teachers,” Turney said. “And then another couple million is for all the non-certificated people, peer educators, office staff, custodians, food service, all those folks.”
All in all, paying employees at the school takes up around two-thirds of Liberty’s yearly cost.
“That makes sense,” senior Julie Jordan said. “We’ve all seen the spreadsheets online with teacher salaries. Daughters makes bank!”
Though not every student has researched teacher salaries, it is true that information can be found online, as can many other financial dealings of this public school district. But why is this possible, exactly?

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