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CKSD prepares for potential program cuts

Central Kitsap School District board members continue to look at multiple options to help balance the budget and reduce expenditures for the future.

During a Wednesday night study session and Thursday night public forum, many options were discussed and frustrations aired in regard to program reductions and cuts. However, with multiple variables still unknown, such as exact enrollment numbers and federal funding, CKSD board members and administrators are preparing for the worst.

“The significance of what we’re doing now, is at least now we know what to expect down the road,” CKSD Superintendent Greg Lynch told board members at the study session Wednesday. “We can’t do everything we’re currently doing today, that’s a fact. Something’s got to change.”

At the public budget forum Thursday night, a list of prioritized potential cuts was produced for attendees to view. This was the first time a list had been produced since the beginning of the budget process.

Of the items on the list, the music program and Olympic High School swimming pool were some of the last items that could potentially be cut. If the programs were eliminated, the school district would save $140,000 for reducing the music program budget and $244,000 if the pool were to be closed.

Although many rumors circle CK regarding these programs, more than 157 people turned out for the forum, including pool and music supporters who expressed their feelings and concerns regarding the removal and cutbacks of these programs.

“Many of these students go on to major in music,” said CK parent Deborah Robinson. “It becomes a very important part of their professional and personal lives.”

“The decision (to close the pool) doesn’t only affect the six high schools and Olympic Aquatic Club,” said O.A.C. member Morgan Flaherty. “It will affect our whole town.”

With federal money the district has received in previous years to help make up for program deficits, there has not been a cutback in program expenses, thus offering more options than most school districts. However, due to declining enrollment and insufficient funding at both the state and federal levels, the school district is facing a budget deficit of $3.9 million.

Although the closures of Tracyton and Seabeck elementaries has helped reduce that number by $1.4 million, the school district still has to make up $2.5 million before the 2007-08 school year. During the study session Wednesday, Lynch asked board members to come up with a series of criteria they felt should be used when trying to cut the remaining money from the existing budget.

Lynch said that although items must be prioritized, it doesn’t mean that whatever is on the bottom of the list must go. Cuts will be made based on the series of criteria the board and superintendent decide upon.

“This is hard because we haven’t had to do this before,” Lynch added. “I don’t know of any other school district that’s had to do such changes like this before.”

Lynch and other administrators stressed that although a prioritized list was distributed, no final decisions have been made.

“At least we know what we should know,” Lynch added. “We have power because we have knowledge.”

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