Enumclaw School District budget tightens daily

Enumclaw School District leaders are watching the state budget closely. The governor’s most-recent proposal would deal the district another million-dollar blow, hurting the district’s effort to raise achievement levels of all students, according to Superintendent Mike Nelson.

Nelson presented the latest budget information to members of the Enumclaw School Board at their March 21 meeting.

Nelson has been making a similar presentation to staff across the district since the reductions are likely to put more students in kindergarten through fourth-grade classrooms, which equates to the loss of five teaching positions.

Recently, the state dinged the district with retroactive K-4 staff funding reductions totaling $331,000.

Also likely to be on the chopping block is funding for highly capable students, which could eliminate the district’s ability to provide student access to accelerated and enriched learning.

Salary support for National Board certified teachers and those with higher degrees is also expected to go away.

The anticipated loss for the 2011-12 reductions in K-4 staffing, highly capable and bus depreciation are estimated to be $524,000. The district anticipates additional budget impacts in rising utilities and insurance costs and retirement contributions to the tune of $125,000.

District leaders also said there will be a loss of federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money estimated at nearly $468,000, which help fund special education and staff development.

Another expected loss, Nelson said, would be in the whittling away of local effort assistance money, about $256,000. This money goes to districts that are property poor, typically eastern Washington schools where there is a small business tax base.

Total losses to the district, Nelson anticipates, are around $1.4 million.

“An extended session will make it tougher,” Board President Chris VanHoof pointed out, noting the ever-changing budget out of Olympia is making it hard for the district to make plans.

Nelson reminded the board that the proposed cuts are on top of those the district has made during the past four years.

Last year, in addition to the recent retroactive reduction, the district cut back $603,000 in places like K-3 staff reduction; eliminated the Enumclaw High School career center coordinator; postponed a textbook adoption; reduced some staffing hours; eliminated positions; and switched to a four-day sports week at the middle school level.

In 2009, the district made $2 million in cuts to programs like full-day kindergarten, literacy camp, the elementary swim program, sixth-grade camp and Saturday School. Also, there was elimination of a full-time EHS athletic director, Teacher on Special Assignment, career and technical education director. The district also slashed building budgets by 5 percent and cut food service, music and administration budgets.

In 2008, $600,000 was axed by eliminating assistant principals at the middle schools and replacing them with deans; also cut were the professional development and public relations position and six teaching positions.

In 2007, district leaders cut $252,000 by eliminating two teaching positions and the assistant superintendent position.