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CKSD budget cuts bad, but preparation has minimized damage

The Central Kitsap School District (CKSD), like most other school districts, is preparing to make the best of a bad budget situation.

“Based on recent state funding projections, we expect to make reductions of between $4.1 million to $5.7 million for the 2009-10 school year,” CKSD officials said. “Over the past several years, we have been deliberate and intentional with respect to budget reductions made in response to state funding declines. This proactive approach has kept cuts away from the classroom, yet because these reductions have already been made, additional ones will be even more difficult.”

In a meeting April 29, CKSD Superintendent Greg Lynch said despite the inevitable cuts, the district plans to continue its mission of “All Students Learning Well.”

In fact, according to Lynch, seniors not on track to graduate have declined from 277 in 2007 to less than five in 2008.

“This is because of teachers having more time with students,” Lynch said.

With headlines popping up daily about schools laying off staff members, a reduction in force is not the prediction for CKSD, according to Lynch.

“While we are not going to be unscathed, it could be significantly worse,” said David McVicker, executive director of business and operations for CKSD. “We are not looking at the kinds of numbers we are seeing across the state.”

Changes were made in previous years which helped alleviate some of the sting of this year’s reductions like the cutting of junior high baseball and softball programs and removing music at the fifth-grade level, according to Lynch.

McVicker added that school closures and energy conservation also have been two of the biggest reasons the district has been more prepared for the cuts.

“The reason we are ahead is related to the fact that three years ago we closed two elementary schools,” he said. “That is what has kept us out of the headlines. That and a real effort on the part of staff, the facilities department and the maintenance department in energy conservation which has kept our utility costs almost flat for the last three years.”

CKSD officials said they believe declining enrollment is but one of the factors in the challenges facing schools now.

“The significant funding challenges faced by CKSD stem from decreased enrollment, decreased state funding and increased costs,” officials said. “Without significant changes from the federal or state levels to fully fund education, these challenges will continue.”

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