Taxpayers are doubling Richland School District’s budget, while the superintendent calls for more funding

By LIV FINNE  | 
POLICY NOTES
|
Dec 12, 2017

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Key Findings:

  1. Richland public schools Superintendent Rick Schulte says taxpayers are not paying enough money to fund Richland public schools.
     
  2. Many school superintendents seek to create the same impression. This impression is false.
     
  3. Homeowners and other property owners will give Richland schools a $10.9 million budget increase in 2018-19.
     
  4. In addition, Superintendent Schulte received a $13,000 pay raise in 2017, bringing his salary to $228,000 a year.
     
  5. Many school officials want residents to reduce their own household incomes by paying more in burdensome, regressive property taxes.
     
  6. A better approach would be District leadership that can do the job of funding teachers, classrooms and schools, and perhaps say “thank you” occasionally.

Richland public schools Superintendent Rick Schulte recently argued in a guest column (The Tri-City Herald, October 25, 2017) that taxpayers are not paying enough money to fund Richland public schools. He says he has a $9 million shortfall in 2018-19. He creates the impression that Richland schools are in dire need of funds, a picture of poverty and want. Many school superintendents seek to create the same impression, calling for increased funding based on the accusation that taxpayers are not providing enough money.

This impression is false. Under the new state budget, Richland public school officials will receive more than double the level of funding they spent just five years ago. 

As shown in the graph below, homeowners and other property owners in Richland and across the state will give Superintendent Schulte a $10.9 million budget increase in 2018-19, plus an additional $21 million by 2020-21.

In 2012, the Richland public school budget was $9,000 per student.  It is now $12,500 per student.  The Richland public school overall 2012 budget was $98 million.  Today it is $168 million—a 71 percent increase. Under the new state budget, Richland is scheduled to receive $52 million more by 2020-21. Similar budget increases are being provided to other school districts across Washington. 

In addition, Superintendent Schulte received a $13,000 pay raise in 2017, bringing his salary to $228,000 a year. The previous year he received a $15,000 pay raise. The median household income for taxpayers in Richland is just $67,000, three times less than what they are paying the school superintendent. In most communities, superintendents receive salaries and benefits far in excess of the typical working family.

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