Teachers in Edmonds district are preparing to get pink slips

School board to act Tuesday on plan that also axes jobs of assistant principals and paraeducators.

EDMONDS — Leaders of Edmonds public schools will vote Tuesday on a plan to lay off teachers, elementary school assistant principals and paraeducators to help plug a projected $17.7 million hole in next year’s budget.

The Board of Directors will take up the proposal in its regular meeting slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Educational Services Center, 20420 68th Ave. W. in Lynnwood.

There will be periods for public comment near the start and at the close of the meeting.

“I expect a lot of input from the community on the challenges the district is facing,” said school director Carin Chase. “And we welcome them.”

Directors got their first detailed look at the proposal at a special meeting May 8.

Proposed staffing cuts they’ll consider Tuesday are slightly different from what was originally presented to them.

The number of full-time equivalent teaching positions to be eliminated is 43.3, down from 45.7. Two Instructional Technology coaches are now on the list.

The rest of the Reduced Educational Plan is unchanged.

It calls for 8.5 full-time equivalent elementary school assistant principal positions to be eliminated. And it slashes hundreds of hours from paraeducators who are in the classroom every day helping teachers, assisting students with disabilities and staffing day care programs.

Several vacancies — including three custodians, one groundskeeper, a technology support specialist and a special education data processing specialist — would not be filled. And the plan assumes nearly $2.5 million in spending cuts from the district’s materials, supplies and operations account, known as MSOC.

Retirements and resignations may help lessen the number of teachers who lose their jobs, said Diana White, the school board president.

The 43.3 FTEs “is the worst case scenario,” she said. “We’re really hoping that number goes down.”

And, in the next three months, as board members and district staff craft next year’s budget, they will be scrutinizing expenses to see if there are other ways to make ends meet without reducing personnel.

“We owe it to everybody in the district community to take a look at every item in this budget and to look to make decisions that have the least impact on the classroom as possible,” Chase said.

Edmonds is the only school district in Snohomish County planning to lay off teachers due to financial issues. Its challenges are tied to a 2017 overhaul to the state’s financing of public schools precipitated by the Supreme Court in the McCleary school funding lawsuit.

Lawmakers increased the amount of dollars provided to schools through state taxes and earmarked a chunk for teacher pay. Lawmakers also set a cap on local levies which caused Edmonds to lose out on $20 million of voter-approved tax receipts for the current school year.

Although lawmakers acted this year to boost funding for special education and raise the cap on local property tax collections, that won’t produce enough revenue to plug the gap, Edmonds school leaders said. Plus, in the past year, there have been new expenses incurred, including pay hikes for teachers and the district’s share of costs related to a new statewide health insurance program for educators.

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

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