After the Legislature passed its education bills, area schools breathed a sigh of relief.
The Montesano School District is “probably more fortunate than some districts, although we’re still looking at a deficit for next year,” Superintendent Dan Winter said after the Legislature finished the budgeting for the next biennial period.
The Elma School Board has said they do not expect large cuts for the next budget cycle.
State lawmakers late last month ended their 105-day legislative session passing a flurry of bills, several of which dealt with funding for K-12 education.
Prior to the legislative budget deal, the Montesano School District faced a shortfall of nearly $1 million in the next biennium. But thanks to an increase of anticipated funds from the state, Winter believes the district is in better shape now.
“We’re looking at our staffing levels,” he said. “We’re still probably in a situation where we’ll have to RIF,” he said of a potential reduction in force. While a reduction in force still is possible, it likely won’t be the four full-time equivalent positions that the School Board cautioned could be possible.
At the April 25 meeting, the school board unanimously approved a resolution warning of cuts in the district’s next two-year budget cycle due to a deficit of $984,569. School officials at that meeting said they could help defray up to $690,725 of that deficit with cuts to at least four areas: Central office and administrative personnel working fewer days and an instructional coach position being cut for a savings of up to $110,000.
The equivalent of up to four full-time certified teachers would not have their contracts renewed, which will save up to $370,000.
About $110,725 could be saved from fewer paraeducators on staff because of attrition.
Cuts to materials and student supplies, as well as cuts to the community preschool program are expected to save up to $100,000.
The remainder of the budget shortfall likely will be covered by the district’s rainy-day funds.
Winter said the preschool program would be continued for special-needs and high-capacity students but that there would not be funds for students outside those designations.
Funds added by the Legislature could substantially affect how the district allocates funds. As of last week, the school district still was trying to work on a finalized budget.