Business and Finance


The Seattle Public Schools’ budget builds on the work of our strategic plan and our ongoing commitment to eliminating opportunity gaps to ensure access and provide excellence in education for every student.

Our budget aligns with the five-year strategic plan priority of Predictable and Consistent Operational Systems and related goals:

Develop district-wide operational systems that provide a predictable and consistent experience to meet the needs of students, families, and staff;  and allow them to focus on learning.

  1. Increase satisfaction with students, families, staff, and the community.
  2. Improve communication to students, families, and school leaders.
  3. Improve overall performance of operational systems in support of student learning.

2021-22 Seattle Public Schools Budget  adopted July 7, 2021

Questions about the 2021-22 Seattle Public Schools Adopted Budget can be emailed to

Budget Shortfall for 2021-22 and Beyond

Next school year, Seattle Public Schools will have a $69.8 million budget shortfall. While next year’s budget reductions will be challenging, more significant shortfalls are projected beginning in 2022-23. Without an increase of revenue, public education services and supports will be reduced.

SPS has been preparing for this coming year’s shortfall and has a plan to resolve the deficit.

Why does SPS have a budget shortfall? In 2018, the state legislature changed the K-12 public education funding formula to create more equity across districts. Investments from the state included funding to reduce K-3 class size, teacher salaries, and provide additional counselors. These funding formula changes disproportionately impacted districts and, at the same time, limited the amount of local levy funding each district can collect.

Historically, our district’s levy collection amount increased as property values increased. This is no longer the case. SPS went from collecting an average of $4,000 per student to a fixed $3,000 per student.

Our past levy authority helped us fill the gap between state funding and what it costs to run an urban district.

The state’s education funding formula continues to be decades behind in key areas. The formula doesn’t provide funding for the full cost of many staff including school leaders, nurses, social workers, and central office. For example, we continue to be funded for 9 nurses for our 53,000 students; we pay for an additional 51 using levy funds and other grants.

Special Education also continues to be underfunded statewide. The state allocation for Special Education, including Special Education transportation, falls short of what our students need and what our families expect. We supplemented the state’s special education allocation by $71 million last school year using levy funds.

The district receives minimal support for other basic district functions such as curriculum, professional development, safety and security, facilities and maintenance, IT, and student technology. These foundational school supports must be paid for by our local levies.

As the cost of these supports go up and levy collection remains fixed at $3,000 per student, our budget gap will grow.

For the past couple years, the district has had budget reserves to make up the gap. This reserve is close to expiring. Without new revenue from the state or an increase to our levy collection authority, we need to reduce our expenses. Eighty-five percent of district expenses are staff.

Following are links to policies and other information related to the development and implementation of budgets for Seattle Public Schools. Quarterly Budget Report 
Sample of budget report provided to Principals quarterly, by the Budget Office, summarizing their school’s budget and year to date expenditures for support in managing their school resources throughout the year.

A Citizen’s Guide to Washington State K-12 Finance 
A resource the state Senate Ways and Means Committee and the L.E.A.P Committee offers to citizens, members of the Senate, their staff, and other interested persons to provide a clear and simple overview of the state budget and state revenues.

Organization and Financing of Washington’s Public Schools  
Publication by the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to make the complex subject of school finance understandable.

Policies Pertaining to Budget Development  – Website
Policies adopted by the School Board of Seattle Public Schools that guide the development of central and school budgets.

Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) – Website

Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) – Website

Accounting and Budgeting

The documents below provide additional information related to school district accounting and budgeting.

Activity Codes
A list defined by the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), which describes the specific and distinguishable services performed by a school district in order to accomplish a function for which the school district is responsible (e.g., supervision, teaching, or insurance).  From Chapter 6 – Expenditure Accounts in the Accounting Manual for Public School Districts in the State of Washington.

Accounting Manual for Public School Districts in the State of Washington
This manual provides uniform accounting and financial reporting to allow for meaningful use and comparison of financial data, accounting instructions as a resource for local school districts, and furnishes the means for effective budgetary control as well as a consistent framework for financial reporting.  Published in September 2020.

Frequently Asked Questions and information about the Budget Office


If you have any questions regarding the budget, please email