May 5, 2009

how to solve the budget shortfall

Yesterday I posted a recent RIF update from the District, promising to post some information from David Johnston on some figures under consideration. These are his words, from the OEA newsletter, on how the District might make up its roughly $2 million shortfall.
  • Reduction of certificated employees. (The board previously approved a possible reduction of 37.5 FTEs but can reduce or even eliminate that number.)
  • Lowering the Ending Fund Balance (EFB). Currently the projected EFB will be 7%. Board policy is to attempt to maintain the EFB at 5%. Each 1% reduction in the EFB means $850,000 available to make up the $2 million shortfall.
  • Reduction in programs. As the recent OSD survey determined, community and staff certainly value current programs but OEA firmly believes that in the matrix of competing values, certificated positions, people teaching kids, are valued even more. The District will come out with a non-certificated cut list soon. We should all look at it closely and give input. A line item OEA is particularly interested in is for curriculum adoption. Delaying adoption for next year saves $450,000.
  • Increasing Revenues. Never an easy thing to do, but other districts are looking at increasing pay for play. An even more viable possibility is if the Legislature goes into special session and approves a levy lid lift. This action alone would free up $1.5 million that voters have already approved, but that OSD cannot collect without legislative action. This option alone nearly solves the current shortfall in Olympia.
The levy lid option seems more and more feasible every day.

Meanwhile, today's Olympian covers the extracurricular angle.
In the Olympia School District, a middle school committee recommended reductions that would cut $61,000. Part of those recommendations include moving track from an interscholastic program to an intramural program and reducing the number of turnouts from five to four days a week.

“We’re waiting to see what the number amount of what the cuts would be and then we’ll make some recommendations,” said Jeff Carpenter, coordinator of health, fitness and athletics for the Olympia School District....

Carpenter said there might be reductions in programs, coaching positions and travel restrictions. However, the district is not expected to increase its pay-to-participate fee from $120 per sport.
Lots to chew on before the upcoming budget forums, May 19, Marshall Middle School, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., and May 21, Washington Middle School, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

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