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"Teachers' jobs are safe, despite budget cuts"

"Although teacher attrition is part of Central Kitsap School District plans to cut more than $400,000 from its budget next year, no teachers will be asked to leave their jobs, according to Assistant Superintendent for Business and Operations Gary Powell.This is teacher attrition, that is teachers who are leaving on their own accord, Powell said.No specific numbers or locations have been finalized yet, but Powell said there will probably be 15-20 fewer teachers in the district next year. The decrease will be primarily in the kindergarten-through-fourth-grade levels, Powell said.Although there will be fewer teachers overall, the district still plans to hire between 30 and 40 new teachers, mostly in the elementary levels. Powell also said the cuts will have no effect of class sizes in the coming year.We're not concerned about class size, said Lois Axelsen, president of the Central Kitsap Education Association teachers' union. Given the process the district has for prioritizing cuts, they are very thoughtful about it. The district has guaranteed class size and they have always lived up to their commitments.The district is being forced to cut its budget because, for the first time in at least 10 years, enrollment has dropped. The district had experienced 3-5 percent annual enrollment growth since 1990, according to Powell, but for the last two years the district had what it calls flat years - when enrollment increases, but by only a small margin. In the 1999-2000 school year, however, 169 fewer students enrolled than expected. That has caused a reshuffling of finances and budget cut proposals for the 2000-2001 academic year. It's just something you have to deal with, Powell said. We have to anticipate for these things and plan accordingly.Since the drops in enrollment have occurred in lower grades, Powell speculates everything from statewide low birth rates to a decrease in area Navy civilian jobs have contributed to the lower enrollment.The Central Kitsap School Board will discuss what will be the first to go and the first to be saved from the district's proposed 2000-2001 budget during May 24. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at the Jenne-Wright Administration Building. For more info on the Budget Reductions, visit the school district Web site, www.cksd.wednet.edu/business/budget."

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