Bainbridge School District's Budget Committee to recommend $560k in cuts

The Bainbridge Island School District’s Budget Advisory Committee plans to recommend nearly $560,000 in budget reductions to the school board Thursday.

The committee, which met April 20, has been responsible for finding reductions and additional revenue strategies to fill the funding gap in the 2010-2011 budget.

The district faced a $2.1 million budget deficit in the 2009-2010 budget.

The district was able to reduce the 2010-2011 deficit from $1.6 million to $1 million by using $350,000 from the program and operations levy – which was renewed in February – and $300,000 in district fund balance.

The committee will recommend addressing the shortfall with $450,000 in additional revenue and $550,000 in budget reductions.

The $450,000 in additional revenue is composed of a $200,000 anticipated increase in Safety Net revenue – federal funds to support special needs programs – and a $250,000 Bainbridge Schools Foundation Pledge for staffing.

BISD’s largest budget reductions came from state funding, which directly impacts certificated staff. Grade four staffing enhancement and I-728 student achievement funds, both of which fund teachers and promote smaller class size, were cut by a total of $645,000.

Reductions in certificated staff would total more than $400,000.

The district will not receive the final numbers from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction until after May 15, which is the deadline to inform educators that they will be let go.

Since the district is currently using budget estimates, preliminary reduction-in-force numbers will likely exceed final projections for certificated staff cuts, Supt. Faith Chapel said.

“You’re sometimes put into the position of putting out a reduction that a month later you wouldn’t do,” she said.

The district cannot reduce certificated staff after May 15. Any further cuts would have to come out of other areas.

“Until we get the budget numbers from the state, we want to be sure that we aren’t putting ourselves into a bind,” Chapel said.

Last year, with a $2.1 million shortfall, the district issued 17 reduction-in-force letters to certificated staff. An additional $260,000 contribution from the Bainbridge School Foundation’s Save our Teachers campaign saved those positions.

When the state budget is received, the district could call some teachers back, Chapel said.

The committee’s primary reduction strategies are through staffing and deferring curriculum review.

The committee will recommend reducing staffing by more than $400,000 due to adjustments in enrollment and loss of state funding for class size.

The district would trim $100,000 by deferring curriculum review and adoption for a second year.

The district’s goal is to be on an eight-year curriculum replacement schedule, Chapel said.

School administrators will also continue a 2 percent reduction in salary, which contributes $40,000 toward reducing the gap.

After presenting its recommendations on Thursday, the district will issue reduction-in-force letters by May 15. The district will present its 2010-2011 preliminary budget June 30.

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