The 2019 – 2020 school year is right around the corner.
In just over a week, Bellevue School District (BSD) buses will be back on the road, crossing guards will take their places at intersections around our schools, and over 20,000 students will return to our classrooms.
As we anticipate the year ahead, we would like to share some results from last year.
The BSD Annual Report to Our Community verifies that Bellevue’s students are exceeding state and national averages in all areas including: state testing in math, English language arts and science; Advanced (AP) courses; and the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).
We are proud of these results, and the hard work of our students and educators. We are also proud of how our community has come together – and works together every day – to ensure that BSD continues to earn its place as a national model of educational excellence. Working together as collaborative partners, we accomplish far more than we ever could alone to meet the academic, social, and emotional needs of every student.
We know we have more work to do, but we also know that our community will always be there to help provide our students with the resources they need to reach their full potential. We are truly humbled by the generosity of Bellevue’s families, neighbors, businesses, and organizations. We are also inspired by the new, innovative, and effective ways in which we are working together to support each and every BSD student.
As much as we benefit from the wonderful support we receive locally, we face serious challenges in the future.
In 2019, the state legislature further limited the amount of local levy funding that BSD can collect.
Although our taxpayers generously approved levy funds for schools, the legislature has restricted our access to the full amount voters approved. This means that in the year ahead BSD will collect $10 million less in local funding than was approved by voters in the previous levy election. At the same time, the state continues to pass underfunded mandates for school districts.
The most significant mandate is the School Employee Benefit Board (SEBB) that requires school districts to purchase employee benefits directly from the state. Under SEBB, we are required to pay $2.4 million more for employee benefits in 2019-2020 than we would have paid under our current benefits program. We expect this funding gap to widen even further in the future.
The legislative limit comes at a critical time for our community.
As a district, our educators are the most important assets we have to meet the changing needs of our students. As the cost of living in the Bellevue area increases, our educators and staff are often forced to live increasingly farther away and endure even longer commutes to work. Ultimately, this leads to some educators leaving the district in favor of more affordable housing or a shorter commute.
When this happens, it is a loss for our entire community and especially our students. Being able to recruit and retain skilled educators who will prepare our students for their future world is directly tied to school funding.
In addition, our ever-changing community requires us to address the expanding needs of our students. Mental health and instructional resources for our students and educators must be enhanced over the next few years to meet these needs.
We can not do this without the support of our community.
As we face the challenges of reduced funding together, we must do everything we can to ensure that support for all our schools is not compromised or diminished.
Over the coming year, we will continue to update you – our community – about how we plan to meet these challenges while providing relevant, rigorous and quality education that serves each and every student.
Thank you for entrusting us with your children and for your continued support.