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School positions could be cut for 2011-12 school year

NORTH KITSAP — More than 30 North

Kitsap School District employees may receive notices that they will not be returning for the 2011-12 school year, a decision which must be made by May 15.

At the March 24 school board meeting, the board made real the possibility of job cuts. Currently, about 38 full-time equivalent staffing positions in the district are planned to be eliminated. Positions include certified staff at the primary school level.

However, the district has the option to rehire educators before the start of the school year if there is room in the budget.

The cuts are still being discussed and the district has not released exactly which positions will be cut.

“We cannot show the public because of the preliminary nature,” Assistant Superintendent Chris Willits said at the March 24 board meeting.

The possibility of job cuts stem from district overstaffing for the 2010-11 school year as enrollment shrank and large classes graduated. An estimated 182 fewer incoming students are expected in  2011-12.

The district received $5,242.46 per student in state funding for the 2010-11 year.

Though Washington state law requires Reduction in Force (RIF) notices to be issued by May 15, the board is considering asking for a deadline extension of May 28.

School board director Tom Anderson noted the proposed budget will be released at the April 7 board meeting, so making any decisions would be premature.

“Something as complicated as this, we need time,” Anderson said during the March 24 meeting. “I just want to make sure it’s clear we aren’t making any decisions.”

To potentially cut fewer jobs and programs, the board discussed dipping into funding reserves. However, those reserves are already expected to be below the recommended carryover of funding into next year; the district’s goal is 5 percent of its annual budget  for 2010-11. The district will be short that goal by an estimated $750,000. The carryover funding helps the district pay its first bills of the new year.

Up until the 2006-07 school year, the district’s carryover was 3 percent, said Chris Fraser, president of the Citizens Budget Review Committee.

“The carryover funds were set up as rainy-day funding,” Fraser said during public comments. “Well, it’s raining now.”

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