UPDATE: BISD approves resolution to give RIF notices to staff

The Bainbridge Island School District board unanimously approved a resolution at a special school board meeting Thursday in which six K-6 teachers were expected to be given a reduction in force notice.

Several other certificated staff will receive a RIF notice: a 0.8 FTE (full-time equivalent) reduction in staff for a school psychologist in grades K-12; a 0.1 FTE reduction in staff in health/fitness for grades 7-12; and a 0.8 FTE reduction in staff in world languages for Spanish and French for grades 7-12.

Other departments affected include: the reduction of one K-6 counselor, one music teacher for grades 5-12, a 0.4 FTE reduction in staff in the K-12 Alternative Learning Experience program; a 0.5 FTE reduction in administrator staff for grades 5-8, a 0.9 FTE reduction in library hours for grades 7-12; a 0.7 FTE reduction in staff for art for the high school; a 0.3 FTE reduction in staff for photography for the high school; a 0.5 FTE reduction in staff for health/fitness for the high school; and a 0.2 FTE reduction in staff for language arts for the high school.

A 0.1 reduction means a teacher will lose one class period for half of the school year, while a 0.2 reduction means a loss of one class period for the entire school year. A 0.5 reduction means a half-time position will be eliminated.

The reductions do not include those who are filling in for someone on maternity or sick leave. It also does not include classified staff because those are handled separately. BISD Supt. Faith Chapel said she does not expect to make many cuts to classified staff.

The decision on what positions to cut and where were based on enrollment figures, the work that the district budget advisory committee has done over the past three years and the data from the survey the school district sent out.

Chapel said at the meeting that while they have to hand out the notices, the decisions are not final.

"This is something that is very tentative," she said. "We hope we do not have to implement. Unfortunately a vast majority of the school districts around the state are doing what we're doing. (But) you have to plan for a worst-case scenario."

State law mandates that certificated staff, such as teachers, counselors, speech therapists and counselors who are on a annual contract must be handed a RIF notice by May 15 if there is the possibility their position may not be available, or else they must make cuts elsewhere.

“It’s a very unfortunate situation for us and for every school district in the state,” she said in an interview Wednesday. “We don’t have a budget and we don’t know exactly when (we will have a budget).”

Chapel also said that the district has had to plan for the worst case scenario with their cuts as they were being very conservative with their enrollment projections so as not to have more staff than students come September. The North Kitsap School District is currently going through the same problem as lower than anticipated enrollement figures have forced them to make cuts to its budget.

“If we think we’re going to have, say, 3,800 students, and we fall short of that, then that means we haven’t made our budget target,” she said. “We have been very conservative because in years past when budgets weren’t so tight, you could allow a little leeway. But that’s not the case anymore.”

Another factor will be attrition to the staff through retirements or resignations. Chapel said several teachers have already put in notices to retire or seek work elsewhere.

“The reductions in staff is a worst-case scenario – because we just don’t know,” she said. “In an ideal world we would only be making some adjustment for enrollment and we wouldn’t be as conservative in our enrollment estimates. Given where we are, we have to be conservative and then we have budget cuts on top of it.”

Chapel also said they would have to cut six more positions if not for the $500,000 given to the district by the Bainbridge Schools Foundation.

She said there may be some relief from the state's tax amnesty program which brought in $263.4 million to the general fund.

School board member Mike Spence said he hoped the state could come up with new ways to generate revenue while board member Mary Curtis urged those in attendance to write their elected officials in support of education before the special session ends.

There will be time set aside at the May 12 school board meeting for a public hearing to discuss the 2011-12 budget and the budget extension.



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