With the Edmonds School District looking at a projected $17.7 million deficit for the 2019-2020 school year, staff cuts will be part of the equation to balance the budget.
That was one of the messages shared by district Superintendent Kris McDuffy to a few dozen attendees at a community meeting held Thursday at Mountlake Terrace High School.
The meeting was the last of four “Conversations with Kris: A Superintendent, Budget & the Community Discussion” held during the past month at four district high schools.
While McDuffy spent some time at the gathering sharing about long-range planning the district is doing concerning a possible move to a 6th-8th grade middle school model and possibly building one, two or three new schools in the district, most of the almost-90 minute meeting was about formalizing a 2019-2020 budget.
The district’s current projected general fund budget expenditures for the 2019-2020 school year are $335.1 million, but district administrators want to get that to $317.4 million, creating the need to make cuts.
“We’ve been working hard at how do we find 17.7 (million dollars in cuts) in with already a very lean budget,” McDuffy said.
In order to balance the 2019-2020 budget, a reduction in the number of district employees is in the works.
“Some positions are going away,” McDuffy said. “Every employee group is being impacted to some degree.”
The district has already informed a handful of administrators in that their positions are being eliminated, primarily assistant principals at district elementary schools.
“We had to make reductions,” McDuffy explained. “We reduced administrators at the elementary level by 8.5 (full time-equivalent) just in the last week.”
Five of the 20 elementary schools in the district will keep their assistant principal posts, McDuffy said. “The rest are moving to a different support model.”
Although the elimination of some teaching positions districtwide will also likely be coming, no certificated instructional staff (CIS) have received layoff notices as of yet. “Our hope is that — and actually the data pretty well bears this out if people can be patient — is that we expect to be able to absorb almost all of the potential reductions of CIS and CLS (certificated licensed staff) through attrition,” she said.
The district sees about 145 employees retire each year, McDuffy said.
A final Edmonds School District 2019-2020 budget will not be finalized until after the current session of the Washington State Legislature is completed. Edmonds and school districts around the state are hoping that legislators will make some additional funds available.
While the state has increased funding to school districts, the ramifications of the 2012 McCleary decision also limited the districts’ ability to raise money through levies. McDuffy is hoping that a lift on the levy lid — under consideration in Olympia right now — will bring more revenue to the district’s budget for next year.
“We have to plan right now for the worst-case scenario,” McDuffy said. “And then hopefully build back or find a place where we can live with.”
“We must first wait for the Legislature to finish their business,” she added.
— By Doug Petrowski