Teachers take hit as School Board makes ‘difficult’ budget cuts

A resolution approved 4-0 by the School Board would cut 68 jobs — 61 teaching positions — in the South Kitsap School District.

At the May 8 special meeting at East Port Orchard Elementary School, Interim Superintendent Bev Cheney presented recommendations to reduce the $3 million shortfall.

“It was the most difficult thing in my entire career,” Cheney told the audience of mostly teachers. “It was something we needed to do.”

Under the resolution, 25.5 FTE (full-time equivalent) elementary teachers, 22.9 secondary teachers, 8.5 in CTE (Career Technical Education), 3 in Special Education, 3.2 in certified administrative staff and 4.088 in classified staff would be cut to help make up the shortfall.

“These are reductions because of the results of reducing educational programs and reducing the budget,” said Cheney.

She also noted enrollment decline and reduction of federal money figures in to cutting staff. Cheney noted there is a difference in people and FTEs. One FTE could include one person or more.

Of the 68 positions proposed to be cut, 33 positions would be eliminated due to the $2.5 budget reduction, but 25 would remain open because of retirement and resignations.

She said the district sent out 57 letters to employees whose position would be eliminated by the cuts. The district wanted to give people a chance to find employment elsewhere, Cheney said.

Over the past five years, Cheney said the district avoided cutting teachers and employees, but cutting in other areas of the budget. Funds from the district’s reserve and local levy helped make up the budget gap because of declining enrollment and state budget cuts.

Projected enrollment for 2013-14 is 100 students less which means a loss of about $500,000 from the state.

The district will eliminate director and executive assistant position under School and Family Support; director of Special Programs; Human Resource and Special Education office assistants; Business Service manager; assistant principal positions at the high school and one elementary school, along with a part-time security resource officer.

The district will eliminate 15.5 previously 1-728 funded staff at the high school level ($1.19 million) and 6.5 ($500,000) among elementary schools.

School Board member Kathryn Simpson said the Legislature has not funded the I-728 position for several years and the district has been funding it through levy funds.

School Board member Christopher Lemke said the district is short funding because of the state.

“Every time the state has had to cut, your board and district has taken on the extra responsibility,” Lemke said. “We have 170 employees we’re paying out of levy dollars.”

Lemke said the district took $3.2 million from facilities to keep staff.

The resolution reduces building budget allocations one-third or $303,000.

About 80 people, mostly teachers and employees, converged at East Port Orchard Elementary School for the two-hour special meeting.

Cheney said if the state allocates $1 billion or more to education, she thinks the cut will not be as drastic.

“It depends what is attached to the funds,” she said. “If we can use the money for people, then we can hire some teachers back.”

Director Patty Henderson, who had to leave the meeting early, did not vote.


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