35 teachers get layoff notices as Marysville braces for loss of levies

Athletics and security staff are also in danger, as district leaders look to trim $13.5 million from next year’s budget.

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MARYSVILLE — Thirty-five teachers have received layoff notices as Marysville School District leaders look to pare millions of dollars in spending after voters rejected a vital funding measure in last month’s special election.

Those classroom instructors could lose their jobs this summer as part of a number of potential cuts to offset the loss of local tax receipts next school year due to the defeat of the education and operations levy.

“We have to identify how to reduce spending by $13.5 million,” interim Superintendent Chris Pearson told the Board of Directors at a work session this week.

At Monday’s session, Pearson sketched out a path to reach that target. Nothing is set, he stressed.

He is meeting individually with each board member on the array of options, and district officials are gathering public input through a survey. Directors will hold another work session Monday. Budget writers aim to present the board with a proposed spending plan by the end of June for the fiscal year that begins Sept. 1.

It won’t be an easy process, nor pain free. Layoffs are likely. Athletic programs, school resource officers and bus routes are all on the chopping block.

“My goal is to make sure the education we provide for the kids is the best possible, working with what we’ve got,” school director Wade Rinehardt said.

The Board of Directors is in this position because voters defeated measures in February, and again in April, to renew the four-year educational programs and operations levy when the current one expires at the end of the year.

That tax on local property owners, which accounts for about 18% of the district’s budget, will generate roughly $26 million in 2022. Given collections are based on a calendar year, the projected impact for the next school year is $13.5 million.

Pearson had warned directors that a levy failure could lead to issuing reduction-in-force notifications, a hiring freeze and notices to state athletic associations about the potential cancellation of sports.

Since salaries and benefits consume more than 80% of the district’s budget, people are likely to lose their jobs, starting with teachers.

By law, notices of potential layoff have to be sent to certificated staff by May 15. The district sent theirs last week to the 35 teachers, most of whom work in elementary grades and have fewer than five years experience. They represent about 5% of the district’s instructors.

Letting them all go would save roughly $3 million, Pearson said. Not replacing teachers who retire and “non-continuing” staff would trim another $2.6 million.

Several classified employees could be out of work, too, though pink slips for those jobs don’t need to be issued for a while. The district could save roughly $2 million by slimming district and school security staff, $300,000 by ditching school resource officers and $425,000 by thinning the ranks of maintenance crews.

Eliminating middle school and high school athletic programs pencils out to $1.6 million in savings. They also could slash $1.6 million from instructional resources and $150,000 from transportation.

If these reductions are made, students would see their classes grow from around 25 to over 30. They could have longer treks to the bus stop. And students could lose their creative outlets or never get to participate in after-school programs they may have already signed up for.

Making decisions “that have the least impact to education. That’s my goal,” Rinehardt said. “Do I want to see school resource officers go? Absolutely not. Do I want to see sports go? Absolutely not. I don’t want to see any of it go.”

The next work session on the budget is 4 p.m. Monday. The meeting will be at Cedarcrest Middle School, 6400 88th St NE, in Marysville.

Herald writer Isabella Breda contributed to this story.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @dospueblos.

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