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School board considers shallower cuts to budget

The school district scaled down its proposed budget cuts by nearly $80,000 between the May 24 community and staff feedback forum and its most recent study session.

During the course of last Wednesday evening’s meeting, upon recommendation by Superintendent Greg Lynch, the four school board members present informally agreed to take the reduction in library assistant clerks’ hours off the proposed budget reductions list.

As of May 17, the budget committees recommended a $50,000 offset which would reduce library assistants’ hours to align them with declining enrollment in schools throughout the district. On Wednesday, that number was slimmed down to $32,000.

The staffing model principals, teachers, administrators and others used when compiling the suggested budget cuts is outdated, Lynch said.

“The $32,000 will not break us at this time,” he said. “I’m ready to ... recommend we do (not do) this because I would like to have some more specific discussion around the staffing model.”

When the Central Kitsap School District sought community feedback last week, the highest number of comments were directed toward the library item on the draft. Of the 92 feedback forms filled out either online or at one of the school offices, 34 had something to write about the reduction of library assistants’ hours.

But taking that particular line off the cuts list may not be as easily done in future budget preparations.

“The reality is, we’re still looking at a $3.5 million shortfall that we’re masking this year,” said board member Bruce Richards.

The district anticipates to run into a deficit when it draws the bottom line on its budget calculations at the end of the current school year. As a temporary solution, it is transferring $3.5 million in Federal Impact Aid funds from its Capital Projects Fund to its General Fund.

Bridging the gap buys the district time to deal with the long-term budget shortfall, which declining enrollment will ensure in years to come.

State and federal requirements that are not fully funded, such as the special education program and transportation, are an additional drag, as is declining Federal Impact Aid (allocated to CKSD because of the high military population in the area).

Looking ahead to the 2007-08 school year, board members and administrators will consider 10 major topics:

• Strategic planning

• Demographic survey

• School closure study

• Technology review

• Programs review

• Budget process re-evaluation

• Staffing models

• Long-range planning

• Capital projects

• Energy conservation.

A demographic study is already underway for the CKSD area and preliminary results will be presented at the June 14 look-ahead to 2007-08. A study session will focus on that year’s budget at 5 p.m., prior to the regular school board meeting at 7 p.m. at the Jenne-Wright Administration Center.

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