Proposed Port Angeles schools budget calls for teaching position cuts

PORT ANGELES — The School Board will conduct an informal budget presentation tonight on a draft 2010-11 general budget of $38,967,760 that cuts no major programs and reduces teaching positions by 5.345 full-time equivalents.

The public will be encouraged to ask questions and make comments at the Port Angeles School District presentation at 6:30 p.m. in the Central Services Building, 216 E. Fourth St.

The presentation precedes the School Board’s regular meeting which will begin at 7 p.m. in the same place.

The School Board is expected to adopt the budget Aug. 23 and will conduct a formal public hearing prior to consideration of adoption on that day.

“I think the budget is good,” said James Schwob, executive director of business and operations.

“We’ve done a thorough job. I’m comfortable that the board did a great job . . . to be able to not cut programs and not cut extracurricular activities such as sports and music.

“I think we were able to do the best job possible for kids.”

Today’s informal presentation was scheduled to allow more public participation, Schwob said.

“We want to respect the community,” by having an informal session in addition to the state-required public hearing before the budget is adopted, he said.

“We’re having an informal hearing so people can see it and then do a formal budget hearing.

“We’re trying to be transparent.”

The budget cuts para-educators by 2,070 hours annually, or 1.25 full-time equivalent.

But there was no reduction in force for teachers, Schwob said.

“The good news is those were retirees. We just simply didn’t fill their positions,” he said.

As a matter of fact, the district “had to hire a couple of teachers,” because 11 retired, he added.

The board cut $1,970,373 from the draft budget because the state had slashed funding programs and because of declining enrollment.

Public schools are reimbursed money from the state for enrollment. The trend for several years throughout the North Olympic Peninsula has been a decline in enrollment.

In Port Angeles, the enrollment peak was in 1967, when 5,138 students attended. A new low was reached in 2009-10, with 3,721 students.

Projected enrollment for 2010-11 is 3,588.70 full-time equivalents, Schwob said

However, since legislative cuts earlier this year, the district has received Title I funds and money for special education programs, Schwob said.

“There were more federal stimulus dollars than anticipated and some additional state revenue based on last-minute legislature changes” that pumped up the budget in specific areas, Schwob said.

The net result is that the 2010-11 budget permits $545,865 less in expenses than the 2009-10 budget.

As budgeted, revenue will not cover expenses in 2010-11. If needed, the district will dip into its reserves, Schwob said.

But that may not be needed. It wasn’t for the 2009-10 school year, despite a budgeted deficit of $456,622.

“We haven’t lost any money this year,” Schwob said. “We didn’t have to dip into the reserves.

“We’re going to be frugal with it.”

Copies of the preliminary budget are available for review at the Port Angeles School District Central Services Building.

Agendas and other information are available at www.boarddocs.com/wa/pasd/Board.nsf.

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Managing Editor/News Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3531 or leah.leach@peninsuladailynews.com.

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