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Teachers on the block in Snoqualmie district's latest cost-cutting plan

Eight teaching positions could be eliminated next year, in a worst-case scenario for the Snoqualmie Valley School District. The cuts will be part of a cost-cutting plan to go before the district's School Board Thursday, April 12, at a 6 p.m. work session.

In the plan, Superintendent Joel Aune will suggest reductions amounting to between $1.2 and $1.3 million from the 2012-13 budget. He and district Business Services Manager Ryan Stokes explained in a public e-meeting Thursday, March 29, that the cuts could be necessary, depending on the outcome of the current legislative session, which alone could cut $1 million from the budget, and other factors.

Lower than expected student enrollment is a contributing factor, and one the district has anticipated since the start of the year. Projections showed 80 more full-time-equivalent students (about 60 at the elementary level, 20 at middle and high school) than were enrolled in September, which will result in about $300,000 less in state funding than what was budgeted.

For next year, the cost impact is projected to be even larger, at $450,000.

Another factor affecting both the current-year and next year's budget is the new two-year teachers' contract, finalized Aug. 23. The school board approved the 2011-12 budget of about $50 million on Aug. 18, at a lower amount for teachers' salaries and benefits than was approved through the negotiations days later. The difference, about $450,000, will come from the district's fund balance for this year.

For next year, the district will have to find another $550,000 in its budget for the contract costs.

Aune noted that all school districts were struggling, but felt that Snoqualmie Valley had done well in minimizing the effect of the cuts on students, by reducing spending on areas outside of the classroom. In the last two years, however, the district has used its fund balance, now at $3.4 million but expected to be $2.6 million by the end of the year, to make up for the shortfalls.

"Obviously, that trend is not sustainable over time," he said.

Therefore, the district has directed the administrative teams at each school building to consider cost-cutting measures to address the enrollment shortfall and staff cost challenges. Their recommendations will be part of the plan that Aune presents next week.

Teaching staff reductions are on the list now, Stokes said, because the district has specifically focused on other areas in the past.

"Given that over the last four years, we have significantly reduced those areas of expenditures, we're doubtful that we will be able to address the current shortfall without impacting the instructional-based expenditures," he said.

The board is expected to adopt recommendations from the cost-cutting plan by its April 26 meeting, in time to send notice by May 15 to any teachers who would be eliminated, as required by the state.

The current special legislative session is scheduled to end Tuesday, April 10, but is likely to be extended for another 30 days. Legislators are struggling with several consecutive years of revenue shortfalls, and considering education cuts that range in effect on the Snoqualmie Valley District from $300,000 to $1 million.

 

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