PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles School District is preparing for a 10 percent reduction in its workforce as it moves ahead with plans to cut $5,692,243 from its 2023-2024 budget.
It also heard a report on the conditions of district buildings.
Superintendent Marty Brewer and Director of Finance and Operations Kira Acker on Thursday reviewed the district’s budget, the status of state funding and an overview of the process for layoffs for the school board at its regular meeting at which it also approved joining a mass tort lawsuit against social media companies.
“We’ve started initial conversations around the reduction plan and working with staff and principals to try to create a plan that doesn’t take opportunities away from students, that’s what we’re trying to stay focused on,” Brewer said.
“Any time you start talking about a 10 percent reduction, it cuts deep,” he added.
There is uncertainty, however, in the number of layoffs because the district won’t know its allocation from the state until the Legislature adopts its budget on the last day of the session on April 24.
The district will then amend its revenue projection based on those numbers and the board will vote on the budget for the next school year at its April 27 meeting.
In the meantime, the district has been talking to union leaders about the timeline for layoffs. Staff who might be impacted will be alerted between April 10-21, and those laid off will receive an official communication between April 28 and May 15.
Among the costs squeezing the district’s budget is special education.
In her March enrollment report, Acker said an additional 15 special education students had enrolled or been identified over the past month, bringing the total number of special education students in the district to 627 — 18.3 percent of total enrollment. The state caps special education funding at 13.5 percent; any difference is paid by the district.
The state Senate on Thursday released its proposed $7.9 billion capital budget that would raise the cap to 15 percent. However, Brewer said he would continue advocating for full funding for special education.
A consultant’s recent assessment of the condition of the district’s buildings contained no surprises, said Nolan Duce, director of maintenance and facilities. The buildings received scores consistent with their age and condition.
He praised the team of six custodians and three groundskeepers who take care of the district’s nine campuses.
“They have good attitudes. They’re great people,” Duce said.
The two oldest schools in the district, Franklin Elementary and Port Angeles High School, received the lowest scores in the assessment.
“Anything less than 60 percent is considered unsatisfactory,” Duce said.
Franklin’s main building, constructed in 1954, received a score of 58.11 percent. At the high school, the 100 building (1953, 54.0 percent); the 400 building (1958, 52.89 percent); the 500 building (1953, 54.9 percent); and the 600 building (1960, 60.13 percent) received the lowest scores.
“There are only a couple of high school buildings that scored lower than Franklin,” Duce said. “So, when we’re talking about future bonds and levies, we are looking at the right schools.”
The district is planning a school bond election in 2025 to replace Franklin and parts of the high school.
Brewer said the generally good overall scores demonstrated the hard work and effort made to keep the district’s buildings open and operating.
“The age of our facilities and the condition of our facilities doesn’t happen by chance,” Brewer said. “We have a great crew that maintains our buildings.
“Where other districts might be tearing down a building, we continue to use it.”
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