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Securing the Future of Education: A Closer Look at PSD's Capital Budget

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As the Puyallup School District (PSD) sets its sights on 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 run dry in 2026, demanding careful planning and prudent financial strategies. 

Transparent and Accountable Spending 

When it comes to taxpayer dollars, PSD is committed to ensuring transparency and accountability. The district follows conservative planning and cautious oversight Spending decisions are made publicly and driven by the direction of the school board and district leaders. 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. 

Long-range planning  

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. This report is posted on the district website. 

Sources of Capital Budget Funding 

The PSD's Capital Budget draws its financial strength from 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. They are a testament to the community's investment in the future of education and the betterment of school facilities. 

🏛️ School Construction Assistance Program (State match): Another key component is the 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. Earned interest is generated from investing the unspent balance of fund. These funds are kept reserved until they are utilized. 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 (Citizens Facilities Advisory Committee) Plan, ensuring the district's capital projects are adequately funded and responsive to immediate and long-term needs. 

📈 Earned interest: generated from investing proceeds from bond sales, serving as a safety net or funding future projects. 

📈 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 

One of the primary focuses of the capital budget is maintaining buildings and equipment. As these facilities age and our wear and tear increase with our growing enrollment, it becomes 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. 

Budget Facts: 

  • 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.

Looking ahead, PSD is dedicated to maintaining safe and modern educational facilities in Puyallup 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 over the next year to identify and propose viable solutions to our space and budget constraints. Even if funding is unavailable, the committee will explore ways to utilize our existing spaces effectively. Together, we can ensure that our schools continue providing a nurturing and enriching learning environment for generations. 


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