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It’s official: School board cuts 27.3 teaching jobs

POULSBO — Teachers filling 8.6 FTE positions in the North Kitsap School District will receive pink slips Friday, May 10.

The North Kitsap School Board cut 27.3 teaching jobs for the 2013-14 school year during the board meeting May 9. Of those positions, the 8.6 are not covered by attrition — people retiring, leave of absence, resignations.

Unless the school district receives more funding to bring back some of those positions, none will be filled next year.

Regarding the latest reductions, parents and teachers are already raising concerns over student-teacher ratios, said Chris Fraser, president of the North Kitsap Education Association. Fraser does not think the adopted staffing program will be successful, she said.

"This is a cut-to-the-bone approach," Fraser said.

The cuts come less than a week before the May 15 deadline to issue reduction in force (RIF) notices to teachers. The board is required by law to hand out RIF notices by that date.

Staff receiving RIF notices this year were expected to be given them May 10, according to Assistant Superintendent Chris Willits.

The board bases its staffing decisions on what it knows about the following year's budget. School board president Dan Weedin said the numbers the board looks at in May usually change.

"We are required to make staffing decisions with a crystal ball," he said.

All certificated employees who receive a RIF notice, or whose contract is adversely affected as a result of those notices, are placed in an employment pool to be considered for recall, according to the district's bargaining agreement. If a job opens up for anyone in the pool that qualifies, they can be rehired. If a job opens that more than one person qualifies for, the person with most seniority is offered first, the agreement states.

The district will save an approximate $2.1 million if the 27.3 positions are cut, according to Superintendent Patty Page. The district is facing an approximate $3 million deficit for the 2013-14 budget, caused by declines in enrollment and in state and federal funding.

Student-teacher ratios will increase as a result of the staffing cuts, but "we cannot continue to operate this way," Page said of the district's financial responsibility.  According to the proposed education program for 2013-14, presented to the board Thursday, the equivalent of 10.8 positions were cut from high schools, 7.8 from elementary schools, 4.2 from support staff, 2.5 from special education, and two from middle schools.

The district has 354.30 certified employees, according to district documents.

The area of education taking the most cuts in the proposed program is Career and Technical Education — 5.2 positions at the middle and high school levels.

The area taking the second highest number of cuts is K-5, 4.5 jobs.

The area with the third highest number of cuts is support staff, which include learning specialists, librarians and counselors. An equivalent of 4.2 support staff positions will be cut.

How staffing looks at each school is based on decisions made at the building level.

 

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