School budget has little room for tweaking

A half-hour carved out of the beginning of Wednesday’s school board meeting stretched into a full hour of comments on the district’s proposed budget draft for the 2006-07 school year.

Nearly 60 people, including administrators and Central Kitsap School District teachers and staff, gathered at Jenne-Wright Administration Center specifically for the budget feedback forum.

Several library clerks, who under the proposed budget stand to see enrollment-determined cuts of $50,000, came to the meeting to share a glimpse of the various literacy programs they make possible throughout the district. Teachers and librarians also came to speak in support of their colleagues’ work.

Silver Ridge Elementary School librarian Mark Reiger said he understands the need for cuts, but he wished they were not from library clerks’ hours.

“I would just request, for the next year, our budget cut come out of our materials budget,” he said.

He said if his staff’s hours are reduced, it would be much more difficult to adjust.

A teacher from Woodlands Elementary School said she is worried cutting back staffing could mean fewer kids meeting their reading need.

Central Kitsap Community Council president Hank Mann-Sykes took the opportunity to propose a solution and urged CKSD to partner with CKCC in pursuing the construction of a new, expanded Silverdale library, which could better serve students’ literacy needs outside of school.

Another group of teachers and parents, stepped up once more for the three art specialists in elementary schools, whose positions stand to be reduced next year according to the CKSD staffing model. That particular enrollment-caused cut, however, does not show up under the budget proposal, rather it is part of the human resources department’s staffing allocation model — cutting down teacher time as enrollment in the Clear Creek, Silverdale and Emerald Heights elementary schools declines.

What administrators did include in the budget proposal was three tables’ worth of adjustments. The first included proposed budget cuts of $470,000 for the 2006-07 school year, representing a 0.45 percent reduction from the total general fund budget.

Another table listed four proposed realignments, or increases, totaling $97,000. Those included funds for the school nurses, additional school office secretarial support, and elementary and alternative schools’ supplies. Some of the latter have not been adjusted for inflation since 1994, according to CKSD.

The final budget proposal included a plan of how the district intends to spend an expected increase in I-728 state-allocated funds geared especially for student achievement programs.

Several audience members had specific questions about how certain cuts or increases would be disbursed.

School board director Chris Stokke added his own laundry list of questions concerning about 10 of the proposed budget cuts and two of the I-728 suggested areas for increased spending. He said his primary concern was for elementary schools where heavier cuts might be made easily as compared to some secondary schools’ non-academic programs.

At the end of the school board meeting, closer to 10 p.m., when most visitors for the budget session at the beginning, 7 p.m., had left, a compromise was reached.

Superintendent Greg Lynch said the district will present answers to some of Stokke’s pressing concerns, which he had made in previous school board budget study sessions, by the end of the month. At the same time, June 14 was designated as a meeting day specifically for longer-term planning for the 2007-08 budget. School board members plan on discussing the rest of Stokke’s questions then and will attempt to set guidelines for the budget planning committees.

Inside the budgetary process

Who’s involved?

CFC (Community Finance Committee) — made up of a dozen community members.

SBU (Systemic Budget Units) — the general fund of the district, the budget used for instructional and regular operation of CKSD, is divided into eight SBUs: student activities; business and central functions; curriculum/library services; instructional; maintenance/grounds/custodial; school support; technology; and fixed costs. A CKSD administrator is appointed to lead a team open to staff, students, parents and community members, for each SBU budget area.

ABT (Administrative Budget Team) — made up of the SBU team leaders and administrators representing classified employees and secondary and elementary schools.

How does it work?

Looking ahead to a budgetary storm that is building up and will hit CKSD in the next couple of years, administrators tasked the SBU teams with exploring what a 5 percent and a 10 percent budget cut would look like for the general fund.

Based on the priorities the SBUs came up with, the district then had the CFC and ABT come up with the current draft proposal for the 2006-07 budget, to reduce the general fund budget by less than 0.5 percent.

Budgetary timeline

May 31 — Budget Development study session with the school board at 5 p.m., Jenne-Wright Administration Center.

June 14 — 2007-08 budget study session with the school board at 5 p.m., Jenne-Wright Administration Center followed by a regular school board meeting at 7 p.m.

June 28 — Preliminary budget for 2006-07 presented at the regular CKSD school board meeting. This draft will incorporate the feedback collected from the community and further work with the school board.

Aug. 9 — Final budget presented to the school board for adoption.

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