Uncovering school costs

Abby Dovre, Reporter

The cost of running a school is a mystery not known to many students at PHS.

According to Laura Marcoe, Director of Accounting and Purchasing at the Puyallup School District,salaries take the biggest chunk of the budget.

“Salaries and benefits of teachers make approximately 85 percent of the district expenditures each year,” Marcoe said.

Puyallup School District Accountant Heather Larson agrees with that statement.

“At Puyallup High School salaries totaled $3.8 million for the 2011 to 2012 school year, not including specialists, librarians, counselors and nurses,” Larson said.

District-wide, the upgrades in technology have added massively to the budget.

“Technology is continuing to get more expensive, with having to constantly upgrade [it],” Principal Jason Smith said.

The increase in technology costs has been felt all around the district according to Puyallup School District I.T. Executive Director Randy Averill.

“Instruction technology including computers and projectors in the classroom cost $268,000 per year district wide, telecommunications under contract obligations total $645,000 per year and the high speed fiber optic connection for the district totaled a$6.5 million investment,” Averill said.

Maintenance of buildings and properties along with utilities account for the next largest expenditure in the budget.

“Utilities cost around $400,000 per year at PHS including electricity, natural gas, water and garbage,” Larson said.

The district has a separate budget in addition to the money spent at PHS.

“Just the replacement of bulbs and batteries costs $70,000 each year district wide,” Averill said. “Maintenance and operations including technology supplies add to the budget. We have a lot of technology that doesn’t hit the schools like business software and student information system software that totals $900,000 district wide.”

Furthermore, additional maintenance at PHS is covered by a building budget.

“We have a building budget of around $100,000 and that is for things like substitutes, professional development, fixing the copying machine. Just our basic needs,” Smith said. “Our largest expenditure is that we bought Smart Boards for as many teachers as we possibly could. We are trying to upgrade technology.”

Additional costs including copying and additional maintenance add up quickly in the total budget.

“Printing costs on our copiers are actually a really big expense,” Larson said. “The upkeep on pools and maintenance of fields adds to the budget as well.”

Paper costs and all matters related to copiers are also a big budget factor at PHS.

“Costs are still huge with paper and fixing the machines. Materials and supplies for the building stack up,” Smith said.

However, the district is always working to cut costs in all schools and administration district wide.

“We’re always trying to look for ways to reduce costs. We’re getting out of using so much paper, going into scanning everything via email onto the computer for storage,” Larson said. “[The district] received an energy grant last year where a special project group went out and installed low energy use light bulbs in most schools.”

Energy efficiency has also been implemented in the high school.

“The district has made eco-friendly changes. If the computers are left on, they go into sleep mode and in the newer buildings they have motion detection lights to save on costs,” Smith said.