Washington School District Operation vs. Construction Funds

An issue was raised on Ticked Off Tuesday, asking why the Washington School District needs a tax increase for schools when they have plenty of money in reserves. According to the district’s Chief Financial Officer Shelly Kinder, the operation fund, which has a reserve, is totally separate from the construction fund that would pay for improvements to the district buildings.

Because Washington relies so heavily on local taxes instead of formula funding, the district is required by the state to have a minimum of around 18% in operation reserves. The Washington School Board has decided to keep their reserves between 22 and 27 percent. The reason for this, according to Kinder, is because of the uncertainty of funding on the state and federal level, not to mention the recession.
The district also carries a larger reserve to manage cash flows while it waits for tax dollars from the County Assessor to start coming in.

The Washington School District fund that pays for construction projects currently carries a 4 million dollar balance. That balance would be used up quickly if any major emergency would occur like the tornado in Joplin or something as simple as a water heater going out.