District moves forward with preliminary budget

  • Sarah Koenig<br>Enterprise writer
  • Monday, March 3, 2008 11:33am

The Shoreline School District is moving forward with a preliminary budget for the 2006-07 school year.

That budget is very similar to the third draft of the budget presented to the School Board last month.

It outlines a plan to study several options next year — including school closures, a six-period day at middle schools and boundary revisions, among other techniques — to save money and spare classrooms from cuts.

The 2006-07 school year will end about $3 million in the red, district officials estimate. The 2005-06 school year also will end in the red by an estimated $3 million, though no one knows the final numbers for sure.

At its June 19 meeting, the Board voted to direct district officials to move forward with the preliminary budget and begin to implement it.

“We know we didn’t make everybody happy,” board member Dan Mann said at the meeting. “It’s not easy to say no to anything, but I believe we had the best process we could have had to establish a sound financial footing for the future. None of us at this table want to go through this ever again.”

The budget is not in final form and could change. A final budget will be presented for Board adoption in August. Board meetings will be held Aug. 21 and Aug. 28.

Here’s what’s new in the preliminary budget:

• District officials are still looking for ways to consolidate departments and save more money at the district administrative offices. Those changes could be announced in August.

The job cuts that have already been made are likely the last, said Marjorie Ledell, executive director of Community Relations and District Services.

• The science paraeducators at Shorecrest and Shorewood High Schools have been restored. Previous versions of the budget cut them.

• Special education classified staffing is being reduced by an additional $110,000.

• Confidential employees have donated their professional stipends for the rest of 2005-06 and for the entire 2006-07 contract year, saving the district $11,020. Confidential employees are non-union employees who work in support roles at the district offices.

• The School Board has opted not to participate in workshops, saving the district about $15,000.

Next year, the district will study other options to save money. Those could include school closures and program consolidation.

Some community members have asked district officials if there is a list of schools to be closed, said Sue Walker, superintendent.

“Absolutely not,” she said. “There is not a list of proposed schools to be closed.”

Next year, district officials also will examine non-classroom services, including the Shoreline Conference Center, catering and traffic safety, to see if they should be kept on.

Other money-saving methods that will be studied include consolidating positions or departments at the administrative offices, revising boundaries to balance the east and west sides of the district, changing transportation offerings and staffing schools to reflect enrollment differences.

High school offerings will be looked at to see if some courses can be consolidated to make room for new ones. The district also will decide if it should sell or lease some of its property.

“Nothing is earmarked for sale at this point in time,” Walker said.

The point of the studies is to move cuts further from the classroom, Walker said. The process of examining the options next year will be a public one, she said, possibly involving the work of a committee.

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