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South Kitsap School District identifies some budget reductions

Attrition and efficiency.

The two are frequently repeated words when it comes to South Kitsap School District officials’ budget planning.

Superintendent Dave LaRose announced late last month that there would be no reduction in force among its teachers. He reaffirmed Tuesday that even educators with little seniority were not at risk of losing their positions, but they might be reassigned to different schools next year depending on enrollment figures.

But the district still must close a deficit that assistant superintendent for business and support Terri Patton estimated on Monday could reach $5.8 million in 2010-11. Patton said she and her colleagues have identified $6.3 million in potential cuts for the upcoming school year.

Patton released a line-item report of attrition and efficiencies that she said will save the district more than $1 million during the upcoming school year. Three positions — communications assistant, instructional specialist and facilities manager — have been eliminated after employees vacated those jobs. Patton said the combined savings for those jobs is $234,415.

Some other large reductions noted are a reorganization of special-education programs ($100,000), curriculum-adoption reduction ($100,000), elimination of facility projects ($140,000) and transportation fuel savings ($100,000).

Another potential change that Patton feels could save money — exact figures are unknown — is a change in bell times at the elementary schools. Patton said there are three separate start times, and she believes cutting it to two would reduce fuel usage and driving time.

“We’re trying to focus on efficiencies rather than straight cuts,” LaRose said. “We’re trying to do more or as much with less.

He said many of the personnel losses have been absorbed through others assuming more responsibilities. In other cases, such as when SKSD had six custodians leave before this school year, it purchased heavy-duty equipment. Patton said that assisted the remaining staff with carpet cleaning and other duties that simplify their jobs.

She said the district also could see $870,000 in new revenue for the upcoming school year that could help close its deficit. That includes a special-education safety net, a 2 percent increase in levy-equalization funds and the potential sale of a cell tower owned by SKSD.

SKSD also saved money when it replaced the east wing of Orchard Heights Elementary School’s roof last summer. Patton said the district initially budgeted $1.4 million for the project. But facilities director Tom O’Brien said during the project that lower construction costs allowed it to be completed for $457,000.

Patton said the district also will be able to replace the heating, ventilating and air conditioning system at Burley Glenwood Elementary School and lighting in gyms throughout SKSD via a grant from the state Legislature.

But Patton said the budget still can shift before it is presented to the district’s board of directors for adoption on Aug. 18. The Citizens Budget Review Committee will make its recommendations to the school board on May 26 and Patton also will make a presentation of the budget to the same panel on July 7.

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