Port Angeles School District avoids staff cuts

Some positions will be left unfilled

PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles School Board has unanimously approved a 2020 budget-reduction program to make up a $2.8 million projected deficit due to lower enrollment that does not, at least for now, cut existing staff.

“This is a gift to the board, and a gift to our students, and a gift to our parents and to our staff that we are not having to have a huge layoff of personnel,” board President Sandy Long said Thursday evening.

“We all were just holding our breath about this.”

Superintendent Martin Brewer said he was encouraged that enrollment had improved by 37 students.

A drop of 281 students recorded a month ago had improved to 244.

That equates to somewhere between $300,000 and $350,000 of new revenue, he said.

“Our enrollment is trending in the right direction, so that is very, very good news,” he said.

The budget measures are intended to minimize consequences on student programs, of which none were eliminated, and on staff, none of whom were cut, he said.

Support services also were not scaled back.

Several positions vacated due to resignations and retirements were not filled.

Paraeducator staff could be reduced by 10 percent, saving $250,000, if necessary, Brewer said.

“This resolution, if you accept it this evening, gives us the ability, not today, because we are rolling out additional services to students, but if we were to need to close the school in the near future, it gives … the superintendent the authority to reduce [paraeducator] staff by 10 percent,” he said.

“In fact if it goes to plan, by November, we will be looking at K-6 back in our schools, with plans to look at secondary education.”

Brewer said the board had the foresight to freeze hiring in May and June, adding some community members criticized the move.

Reductions due to resignations or retirements are in the budget for positions that will not be filled under current enrollment conditions, saving $1.4 million.

Positions that will go unfilled include deans of students for Roosevelt and Dry Creek elementary schools; two Level 1 secretaries at Stevens Middle School and Roosevelt; 25 paraeducator hours; a bus garage mechanic; two custodian positions; and a one-to-one nurse assigned to a specific student due to that student’s disability. That student has moved.

In certificated instructional staff, three full-time staff positions at the elementary level and three at the secondary level will remain unfilled.

“Those positions simply will not be filled until there’s a need,” Brewer said.

“The need would be representative of increased enrollment.”

Kira Acker, district director of budget and operations, said savings in materials, supplies and operating costs, including substitute teacher expenditures, amount to $533,000, due to lower enrollment and reduced facility needs.

Savings also will be realized by eliminating field trips.

“We just looked under every rock to make sure we could find some of those additional costs and not cut any programs,” Acker said.

In addition, $531,000 in spending is covered by Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act federal reimbursement funds.

The district also will be reimbursed for Chromebook purchases, she said.

The budget reduction program is outlined at tinyurl.com/PDN-BudgetCuts.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

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