Bainbridge Island School District prepares to issue layoff notices to teachers

Eight teachers will get layoff notices from the Bainbridge Island School District in the coming weeks.

The Bainbridge Island School Board is expected to approve a resolution declaring a fiscal emergency at its meeting Wednesday, which lays the groundwork for notifying employees that may be let go.

State law requires that certificated staff — a group that includes teachers, counselors and other professionals — must get notice of layoffs by May 15.

District officials have said that reduced funding at the state and local level will help prompt a budget shortfall of nearly $1.7 million for the 2012-13 school year. Increased costs for pensions, insurance, unemployment and other salary adjustments are also to blame.

The district is currently looking at sending "reduction in force," or RIF, notices to certificated staff.

The RIFs will total 3.35 full-time equivalents, but the number of employees affected is higher than that number. That's because most workers to get layoff notices will see a reduction of hours in the time they work, but their jobs will not be eliminated.

The suggested staff reductions are:

1.0 FTE Grade K-6 classroom teacher;

1.25 FTE Grade K-2 art teachers;

0.4 FTE Grade 7-12 science;

0.1 FTE Grade 9-12 health/fitness;

0.1 FTE Grade 9-12 career technical education;

0.5 Grade 5-6 teacher on special assignment.

The number of teachers getting RIF letters would be even higher if not for the number of teachers that are expected to retire or resign from their positions before the start of the next school year.

District officials said the teachers' ranks will thin by 10.4 FTEs in the coming year.

More staffing cuts are expected in the months to come. Reductions in the classified staff — which include para-educators, secretaries and custodians — are expected to come in a separate set of recommendations to the school board in June.

District officials expect to lessen the budget shortfall by reducing certificated, classified and transportation staffing. That's expected to reduce the shortfall by $775,000.

Donations from the Bainbridge Schools Foundation will also help bridge the budget divide.

It's not the first year that district staff have received RIF notices.

"We've been in that position for the past three to four years," said District Superintendent Faith Chapel.

And it's also not the first time the foundation has helped preserve jobs and programs in Bainbridge schools during bad budget years.

"We have had to notify varying numbers of staff, but due to foundation fundraising, we've been able to reinstate positions," Chapel said.

Foundation officials have given the school district a preliminary estimate of how much the nonprofit hopes to raise to buttress the problematic budget. The foundation is currently in the middle of its spring fundraising drive, Chapel said.

"Their goal again is to try to raise a million dollars," she said.

The number of positions that may be cut is preliminary. The district currently expects enrollment to decline by 100 students, but if that number is less, the budget hit won't be as bad.

The loss of 100 students represents a loss of $520,000 in revenue.

"We may reinstate some positions if in fact we have changes in terms of enrollment," Chapel said.




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