Teachers safe from budget cuts

POULSBO — The North Kitsap School District announced on Monday it will not lay off teachers prior to the 2010-11 school year.

The district is facing a budget shortfall of about $700,000 for the upcoming school year, but has chosen to look for money-saving ideas outside of a reduction in teaching staff. The district originally faced a shortfall of about $1.5 million earlier this spring, but that number was reduced because of an estimated $400,000 increase in levy revenue for next year and an additional $400,000 identified in cash reserves.

“We will be looking at a variety of ways to cut spending to meet our goal, but I am relieved to report that we will not need to impose a reduction in force this year,” District Superintendent Rick Jones said in a news release. “We will be able to absorb some of these reductions through attrition and not replacing staff that has either retired or resigned.”

Twenty-four teachers are retiring, resigning or taking full or partial leaves of absence at the end of the current school year.

“When teachers leave their positions, it can create imbalances in certain subject areas,” Robyn Chastain, the district’s director of communications said in a statement. “We always work with principals to make sure that we have qualified staff to cover all of our students’ needs in the different subjects.”

In May 2009, facing a budget shortfall of about $2.2 million, the district eliminated 5.4 full-time equivalent teaching positions, affecting eight teachers. Seven of those teachers were re-hired during the summer of 2009.

The district is still considering ideas for closing its remaining $700,000 budget gap. Some options being considered include a district-wide pay cut and reducing counseling, transportation and maintenance staff.

District administrators will host two public meetings to present ideas and ask for input from the North Kitsap community. The first gathering will be Monday, May 24, in the North Kitsap High School Library in Poulsbo. The second will be Tuesday, May 25, in the Kingston High Library. Both meetings start at 6:30 p.m.

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