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State budget cuts threaten 20 teaching jobs in Snoqualmie Valley schools

Proposed budget cuts by Washington state could mean layoffs for as many as 26 teachers in Snoqualmie Valley School District.

The $2.6 billion state shortfall is expected to boil down to $1.7 million in budget cuts to the Valley, district officials said.

“They’re really all teacher and staff related cuts,” said Ron Ellis, Snoqualmie Valley School District’s director of Business Services.

Specific cuts include the K-4 Grade Ratio Changes program’s classroom enhancements; the Highly Capable Program’s special classes for gifted students; Last Learning Improvement Days, the district’s Friday training sessions; and I-728 Student Achievement program, which helps fund additional teachers .

Last year, the school district initially cut about $4.1 million before the legislature finalized their budget. The early budget cut prediction was part of a contract obligation to let staff members know that their jobs were impacted by the cuts.

The district was able to restore about $900,000 and ended up cutting $3.4 million coming into the 2009-2010 school year.

Ellus said the district already “cut to the bone” last year.

“Since we made so many cuts last year, it’s likely there will be staff impacts, which we’re trying to minimize,” Ellis said.

If the state announces the finalized budget plan as scheduled on March 11, district officials will present a recommendation to the school board on March 25. The board will hear an expenditure reduction plan based on state cuts.

“This is difficult for the superintendent and his key staff,” Ellis said. “We’re all trying to push through this, given that we have all kinds of things we’ve got to deal with.”

Ellis encourages residents to contact their legislators, as he believes they respond more strongly to individual citizens over bigger organizations such as the school district.

“If the community actually writes letters and visits with their legislators, it could have an impact on this whole thing,” he said.

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