School news: Locks, cops, bucks and more bucks

By Oliver Lazenby

Students at the Blaine school district  returned to plenty of changes on the first day of school on August 29. Here’s a quick look:

New electronic door locking system

New electronic door locking systems that have been installed at Blaine primary, elementary and middle schools will allow all exterior doors to be locked from a central location.

The door locking systems include cameras and a “buzz in” feature at main entrances. Main doors will be unlocked at arrival and dismissal times and locked during the rest of the day. Those arriving at school after 8:30 a.m. must use the main doors and will get “buzzed in” by office personnel.

Teachers and other staff members will have key cards for the doors.

“It’s going to take some time for parents in particular to adapt to this change,” district superintendent Ron Spanjer said at the August 27 board meeting.

Blaine High School will also have a system of electronic door locks once the final phase of construction is complete in summer 2019.

School resource officer

The Blaine Police Department has selected an officer to be the school district’s full-time resource officer. That position is on track to become full-time in January 2019, Spanjer said.

The school district currently contracts with the police department for part-time police presence. Between now and January, the Blaine Police Department plans to dedicate as much time as they can to having an officer on campus, Spanjer said.

Budget adopted

The Blaine school district board of directors voted unanimously to adopt a budget for the 2018-2019 school year at an August 27 board meeting.

In the budget, the district projects that its general fund – the fund that accounts for most district operations – will receive $33.7 million in revenues. Expenditures are expected to be $33.2 million. That’s a $3.1 million increase compared to 2017-18 levels.

Most of that increase is due to hiring new staff to reduce class sizes and caseloads for specialized employees, new curriculum, and safety programs such as increasing the school resource officer’s hours to full-time.

The general fund has a projected beginning balance of $1,574,414 and a projected ending balance of $1,994,646.

The budget also includes a transportation vehicle fund, a debt service fund, a capital projects fund and an ASB fund for student events. More information on the budget is available on the school district’s new website, blainesd.org.

Teachers get a raise

Though the Blaine School District board of directors still needs to approve it, the Blaine Education Association as of Monday had ratified a two-year salary agreement with the district.

For 2018-2019, teachers at the lowest level of the salary schedule will get a 5.7 percent raise and teachers at the highest level will get a 9.8 percent raise, school district superintendent Ron Spanjer said. For 2019-2020, teachers will get raises ranging from 4.3 percent to 5.3 percent.

Education unions throughout the state bargained for higher salaries in August because the state legislature changed how schools are funded, adding money for raises and hiring. The change is a result of a 2012 supreme court ruling that ordered Washington state to better fund public education and limited how much districts can collect from local tax levies.

The Blaine school board will vote on the collective bargaining agreement during a special board meeting at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, August 31.

For more information on the Blaine school district, visit blainesd.org.

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