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Marysville Schools prepare for more belt tightening

MARYSVILLE — What’s the budget looking like for the Marysville School District?

According to MSD Executive Director of Finance Jim Baker, the district is doing the best math it can with some highly variable numbers.

“By March 11, we should have a much better idea of where we stand,” said Baker, noting that the district’s spending limits are determined by the state legislature.

Ratios for K-4 certificated instructional staff are down in budgets proposed by the governor, the Senate and the House. Baker added that cost of living allowance increases are non-existent.

While he identified no other “really big hits,” Baker nonetheless is faced with the prospect of planning for the worst, with yet another reduction in the district’s finances likely.

“It’s going to be another negative year, although with not nearly as deep a hole as we’d feared over Christmas,” Baker said. “We could be losing teaching staff.”

One bit of good news is that the Senate and the House both rejected the governor’s proposal to completely eliminate levy equalization funding, although Baker acknowledged that this comes with a proposal to allow districts to increase their levy lids. He echoed MSD Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland’s assessment that this will increase inequities in state education.

In the meantime, the district’s budget study team of school administrators, staff, parents and surrounding community members has been working since last month to prioritize possible budget cuts, although Baker emphasized that their drafts are still “highly preliminary.”

After the district reviews and assigns its certificated and classified staffing levels with all the buildings’ principals, Baker will resent proposed reductions to all the labor groups, as well as review program expenditures with the program directors.

On April 19, Baker is due to present a first draft of the general fund proposed changes and reductions to the MSD Board of Directors, for public review and comment, and on May 24, he’s due to present a second draft of the same.

By May 15, all certificated staff who might be reduced must receive their reduction-in-force notices, although they could be called back and rehired later. As Baker pointed out, all but five certificated staff members who received RIF notices last year returned to work for the district.

From there, Baker is currently scheduled to present the preliminary budget to the Board on June 7, and the final budget is slated to be presented on Aug. 2.

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