Better revenue picture may let Port Angeles schools restore old cutbacks

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Positions that disappeared from Port Angeles schools could trickle back into classrooms and the counseling office for the 2014-15 school year.

The 2014-15 school district budget includes bringing back some positions that were eliminated after the 2008 economic recession and reflects a stabilization of enrollment, said Kelly Pearson, director of finance and operations, who presented a preliminary budget to the Port Angeles School Board at a workshop last week.

Pearson projected district annual revenues of $40,615,883 and an operating budget of $40,432,696 in the 2014-15 school year.

“Eighty-one percent of the budget directly benefits students. The remainder is utilities and office staff pay,” Pearson said Thursday.

The state has added some funding to the district's operating budget, including $150,000 to reduce class sizes, she said.

The board is expected to vote on a final budget for the school year at the regular board meeting Aug. 28.

The preliminary budget includes converting part-time counselors at all five elementary schools to full-time counselors, the addition of three teachers for the district's new elementary school highly capable program, and new music and physical education teachers.

There is still no state funding for all-day kindergarten at Franklin Elementary School, so the district will continue to pay for the additional teachers so that all five schools can offer the expanded program, Pearson said.

Jefferson, Hamilton, Roosevelt and Dry Creek school kindergartens qualify for state funding due to large populations of low-income students, she said.

Adding a dean of students and funding for a full-time resource officer — goals the school board adopted when the positions were dropped — were not included in the budget.

No new textbooks purchases will be made, due to several recent new textbook adoptions and because of the statewide adoption of the Common Core standards this year.

“Common Core standard textbooks are not ready yet,” said Superintendent Marc Jackson.

Pearson recommended to the board that the district build up the district's final fund balance — the amount of money the district carries over from one year to the next — to get a better lending rate on the proposed high school replacement bond issue.

The board is planning to ask voters in February for a construction bond to replace Port Angeles High School's 61-year-old campus buildings.

District officials have said they will not know how much the bond will be until they have a design, but estimates have ranged from $80 million to $120 million to construct a modern school for 1,200 students.

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Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: July 14. 2014 6:49PM
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