School board approves employee, class reductions
Last updated 4/27/2023 at 9:58am
Editor's note: This story will be updated for Thursday's edition.
Despite the pleas of students, parents, and teachers – several of them sobbing – the Edmonds School District board on Tuesday unanimously approved significant budget cuts for the 2023-24 school year.
Board members changed the Reduced Educational Program resolution from 46.5 certificated full-time equivalent positions to 32.05.
This may also affect a different number of individual staff members, as some may have contracts that are less than a full 1.0 contract, according to district spokesperson Harmony Weinberg.
Directors also added an amendment to the resolution allowing the district to decrease its fund balance to 2.75% of expenditures.
The district fund balance is an emergency fund available for a large, unexpected occurrence that requires funding that has not been budgeted.
The recommended level for a district the size of the Edmonds School District is between 3% and 5% of the district’s overall general fund expenditures, according to school board President Nancy Katims. She said a school board policy states that it would like the fund balance to be at 4%.
“The intent of the use of these (added) funds is to address potentially overloaded classes, minimizing class sizes where most needed across the district.”
Certificated staff will be notified of the reductions by May 15, Weinberg said.
As with the April 18 school board meeting, Tuesday’s featured numerous speakers opposing the cuts. A band blared music in the hallway outside the meeting – at one point director Deborah Kilgore, who said she’s hard of hearing, asked if an audience member could tell the musicians to tone it down.
A controversial element of the budget cuts was the reduction of music and other arts elective courses, classes, which the district says can have small class sizes.
Kilgore was quickly rebuffed with loud cries of opposition.
So what does it all mean?
The district cites decreased enrollment – more than 900 students in the past four years – as well as the ending of federal COVID funding.
“We no longer have sufficient funds to mitigate aggregate enrollment loss,” the district reports.
Cuts included layoffs – the Reduced Education Plan includes the 32 certificated full-time employees, as well as additional classified and administrative positions.
Cuts would also come with the closing of Woodway Center preschool, which only opened in September 2021. It was the new name for the school formerly known as Woodway Elementary School.
“The school board and superintendent are grateful for all the feedback received through email, as well as written and public comments,” said Weinberg.
“These are challenging financial times, as the district faces a $15 million budget shortfall for the 2023-24 school year. We understand these reductions will be felt widely and acknowledge the impact to our community.”
The district’s budget allocates 87% to salaries – including $396,000 for Superintendent Rebecca Miner – and 13% to school operations.
This isn’t the first time the district has faced a shortfall. Pre-pandemic, in 2019, it reduced its certificated instructional force by 25 when faced with a $17.7 million deficit.
That summer, teachers, and staff received an 18.3% salary increase.
Although state legislators had hiked property taxes to increase the flow of money to education, they set a lower limit to how much school districts could collect from levies.