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Sunnyside School Board approves $50.1 million budget

Thursday evening, the Sunnyside School Board unanimously approved a $50.1 million budget for the 2004-05 school year. The newly approved budget is an increase over the $45.6 million budget school board members approved last year.

Although budget expenditures are greater this year, so is the amount of revenue the district is expecting to bring in during the 2004-05 school year. According to the new budget the district is expecting $51.9 million in revenue for the year, up from $47.9 million last year. Dave Plesha, executive director of business for the Sunnyside School District, explained that one of the reasons for that increase is a $2.5 million grant for which the district applied. He noted that the grant would make the Sunnyside Secondary Education of Migrant Youth (SEMY) location the keeper of the national database for migrant students. Plesha explained that even if the district ends up not receiving the grant it is something that had to budgeted for, just in case the district is selected.

Also increased this year is the number of students expected to walk through the doors of the schools that make up the Sunnyside School District.

This year's enrollment is expected to increase by approximately 48 students. This year the district is expecting to have 5,442 students enrolled in Sunnyside schools, which is up from the 5,394 that attended classes last year. Plesha also pointed out there are 34 students expected to take advantage of the Running Start program, which allows students to attend classes at Yakima Valley Community College while still being a student at Sunnyside High School.

Often times when there is an increase in the number of students, there is also an increase in the number of teachers and other school staff members, and this year is no different. The Sunnyside School District plans to employ 364 certified staff members and 230 classified staff members. This is an increase of seven certified staff members over last year, and an increase of 10 classified staff members.

Plesha noted that this year's budget reflects only a few small raises for district staff members holding certain positions. He explained that the state allowed for a 1 percent pay rate increase for classified staff members. Plesha also pointed out that teachers will be receiving anywhere from no raise to a 7 percent raise this year depending on how many years they have been teaching and whether or not they earned any college credits over the past year. Plesha noted that the state also granted no raise for administrators this year.

When it comes to the capital projects fund, Plesha explained that the entire amount of the bond issue recently passed by voters is included in the $11.4 million budget. Plesha said this year money from the capital projects fund will help get the new middle school project started. The new school is expected to be constructed on land located along Washout Road. Plesha said although the entire amount to the bond is in the budget, he is only expecting to spend about $3 million this year.

The transportation vehicle fund is also seeing an increase in funding this year. According to the budget, the fund totals $784,600, compared to $767,000 last year.

This year the debt service fund shows a slight increase over last year. This year total expenditures are budgeted at $1.8 million compared to $1.31 million last year.

The dollar amounts in the Associated Student Body Fund only shifted by roughly $7,000. This year the budget is set at $517,801, which is a little more than the $510,710 budgeted last year.

. Elena Olmstead can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or e-mail her at eolmstead@eaglenewspapers.com

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