Tag Archives: education funding

Video: SKHS students rally against staff cuts

Our story on the rally ran last night. Organizers plan a larger rally for 4 p.m. Wednesday (May 22), starting at South Kitsap High School, with a march to the district office. Students in charge are Gabrielle Wagner, ASB president, and Vincent Bachteler, a “passionate Wolf.”

C. Henry, reporter

South Kitsap Schools’ future after teacher layoffs

South Kitsap School District officials have invited parents and community members to a meeting to discuss the district’s future from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at South Kitsap High School.

The school board last week voted to lay off the equivalent of 15 teachers. The district is required under teachers’ contracts to send notices by May 15 to those whose positions are targeted for elimination. According to school board President Kathryn Simpson, the district actually will be eliminating 25 teaching positions, but some will come from attrition and retirement.

The district has cut $19 million since 2009 and faces the need to cut $6.5 million in the 2011-12 school year. Without local levy support, the district would be bankrupt, according to Terri Patton, assistant superintendent of business and support services.

South Kitsap in the past has been able to balance its shrinking budget through attrition, but enrollment — a key revenue driver — is down this school year (2010-11) by 3.22 percent, when the district had expected a decrease of 1.25 percent. In addition, federal stimulus funds that helped buoy the district through the past couple years has dried up, and the state has made drastic cuts to education.

The district learned partway through the school year (once its 2010-11 budget already had been adopted) that the state wold be cutting funding for the current year by about $2 million. This was partially offset by federal funding to save teachers’ jobs, but the net result was a loss of $890,000 in this school year.

The state Legislature has proposed deep cuts to education for the upcoming school year. The Senate version of the budget calls for a $250 million reduction to K-12 education that was not included in the House. They’ll go back to negotiations for a special session this week. For that reason, Simpson does not expect legislators representing South Kitsap to be at Wednesday’s discussion, although they were invited.

Bottom line, class sizes are going to increase. And the question parents likely will be asking — or should be asking — is what does this mean to my kid?

In addition to what the district has to say about how it will try to accommodate the loss of teachers, I wonder what plans families have for living with SKSD’s new normal.

Will you migrate to a private school? Likely that’s a factor in decreased enrollment, although I don’t have the stats at hand to prove it.

Will you give your kids a primer on how to get their questions answered, their voices heard in the crowd? Will you amp up your level of parental hovering, where schools are concerned?

One last question: Bainbridge Island has had considerable success supplementing that district’s budget through its foundation, with pledges and fundraisers.

Disclaimer: I’ve not heard anyone from South Kitsap School District raise this as a possibility. I’m just wondering if anyone out there would be willing to donate to public schools.

Just askin’.

Chris Henry, reporter