UPDATE: Highline Schools' Superintendent On Budget Cuts

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As we first reported Tuesday, the Highline School District is facing major budget cuts, potentially having to lay off the equivalent of 228 full-time Teachers.

According to the school district, the RIF (Reduction In Force) will impact 152 full-time and 114 part-time teachers for a total of 264 individuals, or 228 full time equivalent teachers.

We sent an inquiry to John Welch, Superintendent of the school district, and received his response which we’ve posted below (it can also be seen on the district website as a PDF here):

Message to the community
April 22, 2009

Dear Neighbors:

As you probably know, the state is dealing with a budget shortfall of $9 billion. As a result, the legislature will likely make deep cuts to education funding. At Highline Public Schools, we anticipate budget cuts of $8 million for next school year due to state funding cuts. We have already made significant reductions in the current school year; we must now make some very difficult choices for next year.

I have already announced $2.2 million in cuts—elimination of 10 administrator and manager positions, a freeze on administrator and manager pay, and elimination of 20 math and literacy coaching positions.

We still must make cuts of around $6 million. We have identified a list of budget reduction options, and we are asking staff and the public for feedback. You will find the list published on at www.hsd401.org. I invite you to participate in one of the community budget forums being held in the next week:

We are working very hard to minimize direct impacts on students. But since 70% of district spending is on employees, it is impossible to sustain cuts this deep without cutting staff—both teachers and non-teaching staff.

In our earlier projections based on the governor’s budget, we did not anticipate the need to lay off teachers. Since then, the state budget shortfall has grown significantly, and the state House and Senate have published their budgets, which contain much deeper cuts to public education funding. As a result, we now anticipate a reduction in force (RIF) of 152 full-time and 114 part-time teaching positions.

This is a worst-case scenario. We anticipate we will be able to call back at least some of these teachers.

I had very much hoped to avoid a reduction in force. I regret that we will lose even one teacher. And I recognize that even for those who will be called back to work, the RIF notification is stressful. However, until the legislature finalizes its budget and we know how many teachers are retiring or moving out of the district, we cannot be certain of our staffing needs. This is an unfortunate place to be, and I am asking both staff and the public to be patient as we work through this process.

The school board faces some tough decisions. Your input will help inform their decision-making. Together, we will work to create a budget that meets the needs of students as best we can with the resources we have available.

If you can’t attend any of the three meetings above, you can always send in an anonymous comment by clicking here.

Highline Public Schools serves over 17,000 students in 35 different schools (18 elementary, 4 middle and 13 high schools), ranging in an area from White Center to Des Moines.

More information, including specific budget cuts, is available on the Highline Public Schools website.

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One Response to “UPDATE: Highline Schools' Superintendent On Budget Cuts”
  1. Kathy says:

    They could get rid of the top heavy situation before they get rid of teachers and paras. ERAC is so full of people, they are in the hallway now. Many of the so called cuts that are coming out of ERAC are positions that are vacant and they aren't filling and a couple are people who are being sent out to the schools to be principals. I wonder of their salary will be cut to the salary of a elementary principal???? Also, the small learning communities on two campuses each have 3 principals, maybe going back to the comprehensive high school with one principal would be cost saving.

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