Blaine school board to approve staffing cuts

Published on Thu, May 22, 2008 by Jack Kintner

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Blaine school board to approve staffing cuts

By Jack Kintner

The Blaine school board will meet on Tuesday, May 27, at 4:30 p.m. to review and approve a reduction in classified staff as part of a three percent cut in expenditures authorized by the board at a special meeting on May 8.

Earlier, the board authorized superintendent Ron Spanjer to make “decisions that will result in an appropriate budget,” cutting up to $650,000 from next year’s district expenditures.

The specific cuts are still being worked out, depending on some budget variables, but will result in reduced hours and program reductions in several different areas. The problem is that enrollment has stayed level and costs have risen.

The board currently has a six percent reserve but is reluctanct to let it drop below that in funding this year’s budget shortfall.

“We’re looking for all possible revenue enhancements as part of the process,” Spanjer said.

The special education program had been slated for $185,000 in cuts in an earlier plan, but at the May 8 meeting that figure was reduced by $46,900 by making deeper cuts in other unrelated areas.

Over 30 teachers, staff people and members of the public appeared at the May 8 meeting to question the distribution of cuts.

Josh Day, formerly enrolled in the special education program, said that his life had been changed by an aide he met through the program.
His prepared speech to the board was met with loud applause from the audience.

Board member Charles Gibson spoke near the end of the meeting in saying that he was once part of an organization that survived because of the willingness of staff to make cuts in their favorite areas, including their own salaries.

“The question is how we can make changes in a way that protects what we do with kids, that’s smart,” Gibson said. “There’s definitely a willingness to say we’re all in this boat together, and that’s good.

“No one likes doing this, but it has to be done. We’re hearing such good things about the school, so are we willing to say that for the good of the organization we are willing to take cuts in our favorite areas?”

The board will also vote on a $200,000 general fund budget extension to cover increased expenses through the end of the school year.

Some funding has emerged to help cover this contingency as a result of legislative actions in Olympia and a slight increase in enrollment.
The meeting is being held at 4:30 p.m. to avoid a conflict with the awards and scholarship night scheduled later that evening in the performing arts center.