Few school districts expect to make job cuts

But Granite Falls is expecting to eliminate three teaching positions.

GRANITE FALLS — Most local school districts do not expect to send out layoff notices before the state-mandated deadline next week.

However, several districts have made, or are considering, staffing cuts.

The Granite Falls School District sent out notices in late April. Three teaching positions are expected to be eliminated. The district still is working on its budget for the coming year, but is looking to reduce spending by about $900,000, according to a district presentation. Payroll and benefits make up 85 percent of the operating budget, said Marshall Kruse, director of business and operations.

Enrollment is the main factor behind the cuts, he said. No reductions are planned for class or program offerings.

“We were overstaffed all year in teaching because we thought we’d have more enrollment,” he said.

The district had strong enrollment in the 2016-17 school year, he said, but found itself down by about 60 students at the start of this year compared to the end of last. In a district of 2,000, a few dozen students make a difference. State money is allocated based on enrollment.

The district expected to gain some of that number back, but new arrivals haven’t kept pace with losses as families move or students choose to transfer to neighboring districts.

The Edmonds School Board is set to vote this week on possible staff cuts, said Kimberlee Armstrong, a district spokeswoman. The district is looking at reducing the equivalent of 1.4 full-time positions, which would affect three employees, she said. The district hopes to place those employees, but otherwise will consider layoff notices.

Sultan Superintendent Dan Chaplik said in an email that one administrative position is to be cut there. In Darrington, no layoffs are planned, but one teaching job was eliminated through attrition “as a precaution prior to final word on state funding in mid-May,” Superintendent Buck Marsh said.

The deadline for districts to send out reduction-in-force notices is May 15. As of last week, officials with other Snohomish County districts said they did not expect to send any. Several noted that they still are putting together budgets for next year.

An overhaul to the state’s funding structure for schools will change how districts budget and account for state and local tax dollars in the coming years.

The legislation increased the amount of dollars provided to schools through state taxes while placing a cap on local levies. It also provides state money for teacher pay with boosts based on where districts are located.

The new funding structure is expected to play a role in teacher contract negotiations, and in future staffing and budgeting decisions. Administrators say there still are unknowns in how the new funding plan will affect local schools.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

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