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Lakeside Middle School 13510 1st Avenue NE Seattle, WA 98125-3099
Lakeside Upper School 14050 1st Avenue NE Seattle, WA 98125-3099

Board chair letter: A thoughtful budget

3/6/2011
By Connie Ballmer, Board chair

In these times of angry protests and government shutdowns over the inability to produce a balanced budget, I am happy to report that the annual Lakeside budgeting process was successful, thoughtful, and peaceful.

By Connie Ballmer, Board chair

In these times of angry protests and government shutdowns over the inability to produce a balanced budget, I am happy to report that the annual Lakeside budgeting process was successful, thoughtful, and peaceful.
 
This process begins in November when Bernie and his administrative team draft a budget for the coming year. This year, for example, the directors group worked to keep expenses down so that any tuition increase might be moderate. When the directors are done with their budget process, it is then sent to the assets committee of the Board for input, based on the financial performance of the market and our endowments. Finally, it goes to the full Board for its approval.
 
As with any budgeting process or balancing act, we strive to keep multiple balls up in the air, including the following:

Faculty and staff salaries
: This is the largest component of Lakeside’s expenses and goes toward our most precious resource, rewarding those who have a daily impact on our students’ education. After doing an annual comparison against peer independent school and local public school salaries, we then utilize a compensation formula, created by the Board in 1996, to ensure that Lakeside salaries are competitive and fairly reward teaching experience. It is based on a three-year rolling average of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to shield against huge fluctuations in the market, and also factors in prior education and experience.
 
Maintenance of our facilities: While major remodels, such as Bliss Hall, are often covered by funds raised in campaigns, we budget for an annual plant fund, which covers routine maintenance, as well as some unforeseen situations and needed improvements.
 
Tuition: Our goal is to keep tuition at a level that enables a broad-based constituency to attend Lakeside. While the National Association of Independent Schools reports that for the last two decades NAIS member schools, on average, have raised tuition by 3 points beyond rising cost of living/CPI increases, we strive to be far below that amount. Remember, the gap between the total expense for a student to attend Lakeside and what we charge for tuition is $8,446 per student, which is covered by fundraising.
 
Financial Aid: This is often one of the first programs reduced when a school faces budget challenges. We are proud to say that Lakeside is committed to maintaining the dollars allotted for financial aid next year, even increasing the number of students with aid from 27 percent to 28 percent, adding seven more students.
 
Endowment: Lakeside is fortunate to have a large endowment of approximately $180 million, most of which is restricted to specific programs such as Global Service Learning, financial aid, teacher recognition, etc. To sustain the endowment, the board crafted a rather conservative policy allowing us to spend no more that four to five percent annually, removing any temptation to dip too deeply into the cookie jar to achieve our other goals.
 
Lakeside budgeting is a thoughtful process with many eyes involved and the school does a great job of preserving programs while taking into account the changing financial picture for our families and employees.

With this budget process behind us, we will continue to think about how to keep costs low without losing the innovation and excellence for which Lakeside is famous.


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