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More school cuts projectedThe state isn't likely to cover I-732 raises for 'extra' teachers.
"The Bainbridge Island School District may have to cut $80,000 in other areas, to cover pay raises for some district employees mandated by Initiative 732 .Ken Crawford, assistant superintendent for the district, warned school board members of the potential cuts at the Nov. 30 meeting.If the state does not cover those cost-of-living adjustments - and we believe that they won't - we have to find other areas in our budget to make the adjustments, Crawford said.Passed by voters Nov. 7, I-732 gives K-12 teachers and other public school employees annual raises.Ambiguity in the language of the initiative, however, apparently leaves Olympia room to interpret it narrowly - excluding employees whose salaries are paid by local levies. The issue will be uncertain for months, until the initiative is rewritten into statutory language at the end of the current legislative session. District personnel do not hold out hope, however, that legislators will take the high road. Historically, we know that Olympia will take the most literal and (self)-advantageous approach to funding our school system, Crawford said. And, basically, what it comes down to is that if the state doesn't fund additional personnel activities and raises, we have to.The number of district teachers, administrators and classified employees that the state underwrites is determined by a formula based on student enrollment. The Bainbridge School District, like some other districts, keeps class size low by adding teachers paid for by local excess levies. A 3 percent cost-of-living raise for the 15 supplemental teachers now on staff would mean the district would have to find $20,000 to cover their COLAs.Cost-of-living also applies to extra teaching days that are paid for by local levies. Teachers contract to teach 180 days in a school year. In addition, the state pays for three inservice days for teachers to attend workshops, for example, or to organize classrooms. But each teacher also has nine supplemental inservice days that aren't covered by the state, and cost-of-living for these adds up to $14,800 more, when a narrowly construed I-732 is applied.Another shortfall the district may have to cover is the cost-of-living raise for administrators. The average salary for a school administrator is approximately $77,000. The state only funds 60 percent, and the balance is covered by Bainbridge levies. With 15.6 full-time equivalent administrators, the district would have to find another $15,000 under I-732.There are also 22 extra classified staff, representing a potential need for $18,000 in additional monies.Also likely: new money for stipends for extracurricular and co-curricular staff - coaches, assistant coaches and club advisors - who are also paid through the local levy.The potential budget cuts that could result from implementing I-732 come at a time when the district already faces loss of revenue through falling enrollment and a shortfall of around $1 million in the $25 million budget. Bainbridge Island School Superintendent Steve Rowley said that while the school-funding I-728 will bring money amounting to $200 per FTE student to the district, those funds cannot be used to pay for I-732 cost-of-living increases. Rowley said he believes it likely that the district will have to make up the difference.We know it's coming. We know we'll probably have to ante up, he said. We're just not sure yet where the cuts will be. "