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Marysville schools face budget reductions

MARYSVILLE — The Marysville School District Board of Directors outlined its priorities for potential budget reductions at a work study meeting on the evening of May 11, in time to distribute Reduction In Force notifications to certificated staff May 12.

In the wake of the May 5 School Board meeting, which drew dozens of parents and students who spoke on behalf of the 10th Street Middle School music teacher and band program, the Board noted that band will continue at 10th Street, and there will be no RIFs in music. The only three members of the public to speak during the public comment portion of the May 11 meeting were all 10th Street parents who thanked the Board.

Marysville School District Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland was able to report a silver lining in the dark cloud of state budget cuts, noting that the school district should be able to keep its levy equalization money. District Finance Director Jim Baker, who previously had no good news to report, added that BEA funding estimates are based on full K-4 enhancement and full LEA funding support. At the same time, this still leaves the District with between $2.3 million and $2.7 million in basic education reductions to make.

Although the Board had previously approved up to 81 RIFs, Baker anticipated at the outset of the meeting that the actual number of RIF notices would be closer to 50 Full-Time Equivalent basic education certificated instructional staff, including 3.2 in administration, 26.1 in grades K-5, and 23.1 in grades 6-12. Nyland added that the I-728 budget for the next school year has been reduced by more than 70 percent. As a result, 30 positions that have been funded by I-728 in the past will not be able to be funded next year.

Baker presented a tiered list of prioritized budget reductions recommended to the Board, starting with $2,249,499 in “Priority A” BEA proposed reductions, a further $443,997 in “Priority B” BEA proposed reductions, an additional $1,304,764 in “Priority C” BEA proposed reductions, and $1,216,885 in “Priority D” BEA proposed reductions. The Priority A list consists of the reductions most likely to be made, while the Priority B list consists of reductions that are less likely, but still possible. Baker noted that the school district has never needed to resort to making reductions from the Priority C list.

While no final decisions were made on budget reductions, the Board had to decide May 11 whether it agreed with the BEA proposed reduction lists for priorities A, B and C. After May 11, the Board would not be allowed to send RIF notices to any certificated staff on the Priority C list, and on May 12, all certificated staff on the Priority A and B lists received RIF notices. Nyland emphasized that not all certificated staff who receive RIF notices are necessarily laid off for good, since the preliminary budget isn’t set to be approved until June 1, and limited recalls of teachers who have received RIF notices are set to begin June 2. Baker additionally expressed his confidence that most of the eventual budget reductions should be limited to the Priority A list.

Nonetheless, the Board did not make its decisions lightly, about which staff should go on the Priority A, B and C lists. Board members Cindy Erickson and Darci Becker offered an impassioned defense of the role of the elementary school-based TOSA support positions in the C list, which fellow Board member Sherri Crenshaw proposed moving up to the B list. Erickson and Becker cited the TOSAs as needed supervisors in the grade school environment. For their part, Crenshaw and fellow Board member Don Hatch were just as committed to moving the S.H.o.P.P. principal administrative position from the B list to the C list, to ensure the school district’s commitment to multicultural awareness.

After both Nyland and Baker noted the number of classified staff on the C list, who are not required to receive RIF notices until June 16, the Board decided that it could afford to move the S.H.o.P.P. position from the B list to the C list, and otherwise accepted the BEA proposed reduction priority categories as submitted. The BEA proposed reductions can be found on the MSD Web site, at http://www.msvl.k12.wa.us.

The Board will be conducting a community and staff presentation May 13 at 6 p.m. in the Board Room, followed by a period of public comment at its May 18 public forum from 7-9 p.m. at the same location. The Board Room will also host a period of public comment at the next Board work study, May 26 from 6:30-7 p.m. The public is also welcome to attend staff presentations May 13 at 3 p.m. at Cedarcrest Middle School, May 19 at 2:30 p.m. at the Marysville-Pilchuck High School library, and May 21 at 3:30 p.m. at the Quil Ceda Elementary library, but no public comment will be taken during these staff presentations. Comments may also be e-mailed to Superintendents_Office@msvl.k12.wa.us.

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