Lake Washington schools balance budget without teacher layoffs

Lake Washington School District (LWSD) Superintendent Chip Kimball has announced that the district has been able to cut the $7.7 million from its budget required by the state government without laying off any teachers or increasing class sizes.

Lake Washington School District (LWSD) Superintendent Chip Kimball has announced that the district has been able to cut the $7.7 million from its budget required by the state government without laying off any teachers or increasing class sizes.

Kimball presented a proposed budget to the district’s board of directors on Monday night, a budget which includes a series of administrative cuts, program cuts and increased fees.

“We stayed true to our community’s priorities,” said Dr. Kimball. “We heard loud and clear that our community does not want to see class sizes increase if at all possible. We looked carefully at every possible way to creatively use other sources of funding and to focus multiple cuts on all areas outside the classroom.”

He said community feedback also advocated protecting safety net programs for struggling learners, early learning and investments in quality staff, and that the new budget reflected those values through keeping such programs as the Ready Start preschool and safety net programs.

“This budget will be balanced through severe reductions in administration, professional development, support services and building support,” Dr. Kimball said, reviewing the cuts needed to keep class sizes the same. “The budget also increases revenues through increased fees, conservation and changes in how programs are charged to our budget. Administration will take the greatest reduction in the system, with the least impact occurring at the classroom level.”

Kimball said his district had squeezed “every penny possible out of the system to make sure our priorities are funded.”

“While I am sad that many of our programs will receive cuts, I am very proud of the work that so many in the district have done to make sure that every student, every day, has a high quality learning experience.”

The largest cuts came in central administration and professional development, over $2 million dollars.

Just over ten positions will be eliminated, including four administrators, two professional/technical staff members and just over four professional development staff positions.

All central office departments will face a five percent cut in their operating budgets.

The administrative cuts amount to 20 percent of the district’s central administrators.

The next largest area comes in “building support,” referring to ancillary development programs, totaling $1.8 million.

• Athletics fees will rise from $35 to $105 in junior highs and from $75 to $275 in high schools.

• About $700,000 will be gained through an increase in the fee for All-Day Kindergarten.

• A new fee for transportation for the gifted enrichment program will raise $45,000.

• Operation of the pool at Juanita High School will be contracted out, saving $150,000. If no contractor can be found, the pool will be closed.

• Support services will cut about $600,000 using a different custodial services model, increased energy savings, and transportation route efficiencies, including fewer, longer routes and fewer stops per route.

• Schools will receive fewer stipends for activity programs.

• The district will no longer produce a printed school calendar, which traditionally is mailed to all parents at the beginning of the school year.

The district will move some expenses currently from the general fund to special education or Title I funds so that it may use federal stimulus money to pay for those items.

The Issaquah School District Board announced recently it would be forced to lay off up to 158 teachers to meet it’s budget requirements.

The Issaquah district, which includes most schools in Issaquah and Sammamish, and Liberty High School in Renton, went into the budget negotiations ranked 271st out of 295 districts in the state in terms of per-pupil funding.

Co-President of the Eastlake Hight School PTSA Cheryl Lewis said this week that her group was pleased that the district included the community in budget discussions.

“We knew this was going to be painful, no matter how you looked at it,” she said. “The Lake Washington School District did a fantastic job of educating our community and including us in these thoughtful discussions and we are very confident that they took our community input into consideration when making the final decisions. The PTSA will support our staff and community to the best of our ability to continue the successes that we have achieved in our Eastlake community during these difficult economic times.”

The district’s Board of Directors will hold a public hearing on the budget at its June 22 meeting.

The budget must be approved by the Board in August.