District ponders closing a school

Declining enrollment projections and funding cuts from the state will mean tough decisions for Central Kitsap School District officials as they chop $500,000-$1 million from the 2004-05 budget.

It also means the district must look at staffing levels at grades K-4 and possibly redraw elementary school boundary lines. The worst case scenario could mean the district closing an elementary school in 2005-06, announced Gary Powell, assistant superintendent for business and operations.

The state has decreased its funding for teachers from 54 staff members per 1,000 students to 53.2 per thousand. Using this new number the district would lose 3.15 teachers. Currently the district is overstaffed by 11.82 teachers according to information presented to the board. That translates into 14.97 positions totaling $923,200 in unfunded salaries and benefits.

He said administrators are meeting with principals to go over staffing levels.

“Right now we’re pretty well balanced,” he said. Attrition and retirements have brought numbers down. Transfers also are expected, although Powell said he did not know which schools would be affected.

“What we see, as other districts have seen, is a declining birth rate,” Powell said. The higher grades have about 1,000 students, while the elementary levels have dropped to 850-900 students he said.

In a CK School Board budget study session Wednesday, Powell outlined a list of $3.6 million in cuts being considered. The budget was divided into eight units, which committees for each unit combed through to find possible cuts. It will then be given to the Community Finance Committee — a group of 10 community members and people representing various associations in the school district — and the administrative budget team. Those groups will prioritize the items. Ones with the least priority will be the first to go. The prioritized items will be reviewed at the May 26 regular meeting of the school board.

The budget session included a presentation from Janell Newman, executive director of curriculum and instruction, on I-728 funding. The district is expected to receive a $400,000 increase for 2004-05. According to survey results from the community parents and staff the money should go toward targeting learning assistance in all grades.

“Weight and consideration will be given to the top three options,” Newman said.

A regular school board meeting followed the budget workshop at Clear Creek Elementary where the CKSD board confirmed the hiring of Greg Lynch, a retiring Army colonel, as the district’s next superintendent.

He is retiring from the Army and will begin his superintendency by July 1. He has a three-year agreement with the district with an annual salary of $132,000.

The board also heard a presentation from Clear Creek Elementary staff concerning the newly opened Kitsap Achievement Program addition to the school. The program helps teachers who have students with behavior problems. Students are in the program as needed from periodic visits to all day, long-term supervision.

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