NK School district eyes state budget cuts

POULSBO — Reverberations from state budget cuts to education funding have reached North Kitsap schools.

While it’s too early to tell if the state’s cuts will have any significant effect on the school district’s programs, number of teachers, or class size, the district has begun calculations on how much money it lost in the cuts.

The initial estimate is $717,926 in lost funds, which will be lessened by $210,687 the district will receive next year in I-728 funds.

Some additional I-728 funds — worth as much as $72,491 — may also be rolled over from this year’s allocation.

Terry Heindl, the district’s assistant superintendent in charge of finance, said the district will work to ensure that any cuts that are made aren’t very deep: “There are a lot of things we can do, and we’re going to do them,” said Heindl.

He said, “I don’t see us making massive changes.”

Massive changes may not be coming, but the district has some new hurdles thanks to the state’s new budget.

•The state provided the district with new funds through a “flex fund,” but also slashed other funds, including those that paid for mentor teachers, principal interns, truancy programs and student resource officers. Those programs aren’t going away, but the district will have to pick up costs that aren’t covered by the new flex-fund money; initial calculations pit those costs at $75,348.

•The state funds a specific number of teachers per 1,000 K-4 students; this year, the new budget reduced the ratio of teachers it pays for.

•The state pays some teachers’ salaries during learning improvement days. This year, they eliminated the money for one of those days; however, the number of days is locked in to the district’s contract with the teachers’ union. Either the district would have to negotiate that day out of the contract or, more likely, it will have to pick up the costs itself; for state-funded teachers that’s $104,702.

•The most costly change — worth $240,459 — is also the most complicated. The state pays for salaries of many of the district’s teachers, levy funds pay for the other teachers. Up until now, the state has calculated how much money it gives the school district for only the state-funded teachers. But the state has changed the funding formula; now it calculates the amount according to the salaries of all teachers, including those paid for with levy and other funds. Because the teachers not funded by the state are often less experienced and, because of that, less expensive, this will cut the amount of money the district gets from the state.

The impact those cuts will have is still difficult to anticipate. Heindl hopes the district will trim some funds, as well as use extra dollars the state is providing — such as an increased number of special education dollars and I-728 funds — to lessen other losses.

Some programs may have to be trimmed to make up for the losses. The school board members will have to decide on those cuts for the next

school year as the end of the year approaches.

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