As the district plans for the future, a critical concern looms- the Capital Budget's sustainability. Responsible for major maintenance, renovation, and construction projects, this budget is essential for providing students with safe and comfortable learning environments. However, without additional bond or levy funding, the budget is projected to be near depletion by 2026. The district is currently only addressing the most critical projects that impact delivery of instruction or health and safety.
Transparent and Accountable Spending
When it comes to taxpayer dollars, the district is committed to ensuring transparency and accountability. The district follows conservative planning and cautious oversight. Spending decisions are driven by voter-approved bonds and levies, under the direction of the school board and district leaders in line with state requirements and the Citizens Facilities Advisory Committee guidance. This approach aims to build trust and confidence among the community, knowing their hard-earned money is being used responsibly.
All voter-approved 2015 bond projects came in on time and under budget. PSD funds were managed so well that the state match was used to fund additional junior high projects and the Kessler Center, saving the district from having to run another bond for those expansion projects.
The Citizens Facilities Advisory Committee (CFAC) Report provides the Puyallup School Board with a thoughtfully crafted list of capital projects prioritized to direct project planning over time. In 2004 and again in 2012, this committee put forth a 12-year plan to be used when making the decisions which lead to bond elections.
CFAC Report (PDF)
Sources of Capital Budget Funding
The PSD's Capital Budget is funded through four main sources:
- Voter-approved levy and bond funding: One of the cornerstones of the budget lies in voter-approved levy and bond funding. These funds are secured through public voter approval and play a crucial role in financing vital capital projects.
- School Construction Assistance Program (State match): Another key component is state match, provided to projects meeting specific eligibility criteria. Criteria include modernization needs due to age and condition or the demonstrated requirement for additional space. Washington State extends matching funds for new construction projects after the district secures local funding and completes the project. These funds are kept reserved until they are utilized.
- Earned interest: generated from the unspent fund balance, allowing PSD to invest proceeds from bond sales, serving as a safety net or funding future projects. Over time, the interest accumulated can serve as a safety net or contingency fund for the district, helping during emergencies. Moreover, interest can be directed towards projects still to be accomplished as part of the 12-Year CFAC Plan (Citizens Facilities Advisory Committee).
- Impact Fees: collected from residential housing construction projects to assist with the cost of expanding school facilities to meet growth.
Balancing Priorities and Fiscal Responsibility
With the capital budget facing a looming deficit, the Puyallup School District faces a challenging task. Tough decisions must be made while still being responsible stewards of taxpayer funds. Striking a delicate balance between ensuring quality education for students and managing resources prudently is critical. The district takes this responsibility seriously and prioritizes these values in all decision-making processes.
Project Examples and Funding Initiatives
The primary focus of the capital budget is major construction, renovation, and improvement of our facilities and infrastructure. As these facilities age and our wear and tear increase with our growing enrollment, it becomes even more vital to care for district assets. The capital budget has played a pivotal role in ensuring these resources are well-preserved, enabling students to thrive in conducive learning environments.
The school district has earned clean audits performed by the Washington State Auditor, signifying strong financial management.
In 2022, the school district successfully refinanced two bonds, leading to savings of $4.5 million for taxpayers, demonstrating the district's commitment to making financially sound decisions.
All voter-approved 2015 bond projects came in on time, under budget. PSD funds were managed so well that the state match was used to fund additional junior high projects and the Kessler Center, saving the district from having to run another bond for those expansion projects.
The district is dedicated to maintaining safe and efficient educational facilities for the long-term benefit of our students.
To address our challenges, we seek input and guidance from our local community. Our School Capacity and Utilization Task Force, comprised of principals, staff, parents, students, and community members, will work diligently during the 2023-2024 school year to identify and propose viable solutions for utilizing our existing spaces effectively based on enrollment projections and current budget constraints. Together, we can ensure that our schools continue providing a nurturing and enriching learning environment for generations.
District Priority #5: Facilities, Safety, and Security
The district will ensure the timely repair and maintenance of schools and support facilities in order to maintain a safe work and learning environment for students and staff.