May 6, 2009

North Thurston slashes budget; axes 36 FTEs

The North Thurston School Board has voted to slash nearly $5 million from their budget. The lowlights:
The cuts include eliminating about 36 full-time-equivalent teaching positions throughout the district, but that will be reached through retirements, resignations and not renewing one-year contracts....

Other cuts include:

• Eliminating the Talented and Gifted program for first-graders.
• Raising high school athletic fees from $75 a sport to $100 a sport. The football fee would be $125.
• Raising middle school athletic fees from $40 a year to $60 a year.
• Reducing full-time librarians at the elementary schools to half time.
• Cutting several district-level administrator or director positions.
• Increasing lunch prices by 25 cents.
• Eliminating food reimbursements for teachers, administrators and other adults who are traveling or at meetings.
• Lowering the temperature of the district’s pools and pool buildings, which a North Thurston district resident suggested could save $36,000.

Other staff reductions include eight administrators or supervisors, one office professional at each of the middle and high schools, a mechanic and 3.5 full-time-equivalent custodians.
It should be noted that, compared to personnel cuts, the savings from efficiencies and user fees are rather small.

In his reluctant defense of the cuts, Board member Bill Williams is quoted as saying, "[B]asically, we have no choice." Until all our options are exhausted--and they aren't--that isn't the case.

About a week ago, I urged the Board to let the voters decide whether to accept any potential earnings from a levy lid lift, which NTSD has forsworn. Although Gregoire hasn't convened the legislature for a special session to lift the lid, it's still an option. If that effort falls short, then Williams will be right.

If it falls short.

We'll find out by the end of the week.

Update: It appears that Gregoire's plan to call a special session has crumbled into pieces. Sucks to be us, eh North Thurston School District?

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