Bainbridge school district looking at cuts to ranks of classified staff

The Bainbridge Island School District has notified the union that represents para-educators, bus drivers and other classified workers that hours will be cut because of the district's ongoing budget woes.

In a memo to the school board sent last week, District Superintendent Faith Chapel noted there will be "insufficient funds to maintain current staffing levels, programs and services."

She also said the district expected to cut some staff positions due to changes in enrollment.

The school board declared a fiscal emergency in April, and officials have previously estimated the school district faces a budget shortfall of nearly $1.7 million for the 2012-2013 school year, largely due to reduced funding at the state and local level.

The district has told the union for classified employees, the Bainbridge Island Educational Support Professional Association, that 42.9 hours per day will be cut from workers' schedules. The changes in hours of staff members will vary from position to position and school to school.

Chapel said Tuesday the notice is necessary under the terms of the district's contract with classified employees.

"We have an agreement with our association that we will notify them if in fact there is the possibility that we will be making reductions of hours for the next school year," Chapel said.

The breakdown in the hours reduced per day is:

Special education para-educator, 4 hours;

Non-special education para-educators, 18 hours;

Title 1 para-educator, 2.5 hours;

Bus drivers, 13.4 hours;

Capital projects, 5 hours.

The school board will be asked to approve the cuts at its meeting Thursday, June 28.

Chapel said the actual reductions that will be made may be different than those approved this week; the number of employees who will be affected may change because of staff attrition.

The enrollment picture will become clearer in August as well, Chapel said.

"We gain students typically over the summer; we have students who are moving in and are registering," she said.

The district will also find out how much funding to save staff positions will come from the Bainbridge Schools Foundation's fundraising effort.

The foundation is currently running its One Dollar a Day campaign, and the nonprofit said this week it has raised $319,123 in pledges and donations through June 25. Money raised during the campaign is expected to help cover teacher salaries and also pay for para-educators in kindergarten through 12th-grade classrooms.

"The outcome of that will certainly help determine how many positions we are able to reinstate," Chapel said.


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