School District proposes new budget-cut plan

The Northshore School District has announced an alternative plan for reducing its expenditures by $700,000 in lieu of closing Woodin Elementary next year.

The Northshore School District has announced an alternative plan for reducing its expenditures by $700,000 in lieu of closing Woodin Elementary next year.

The proposal includes 11 measures designed to put the finishing touches on a long-debated strategy for reducing Northshore’s 2008-09 budget by $3.4 million.

The district is facing its sixth straight year of decreased revenues and rising education costs.

Northshore spokeswoman Susan Stoltzfus said the School Board intends to adopt a final budget in July.

“Until then, we have a balanced budget for next year,” she said.

The area hit hardest by this latest proposal will be transportation services.

Northshore plans to save $200,000 by eliminating busing for after-school activities and optional instruction programs such as International Baccalaureate (IB), Parents Active in Cooperative Education (PACE) and the Elementary Advanced Program, which is designed for gifted grade-school students.

“When I looked at the list, those cuts were the ones that affect most kids,” Stoltzfus said. “That’s more than the amount that would have been affected with a school closure.”

The district plans to save another $135,000 by eliminating three full-time custodial positions on top of the other three that Northshore put on the chopping block with its original budget-reduction proposal.

Stoltzfus said certain schools will likely have to share custodians to make up for the loss.

Other proposed cuts include eliminating the full-time consultant for Inglemoor High’s distance-learning classes. This measure is expected to save $95,000 a year.

The distance-learning program is designed to help IB and struggling students meet their course requirements through online classes during the school day and after hours.

“We think the program can still be sustained,” she said. “In terms of budget savings, we’re taking a teacher that was dedicated to the program and reassigning that person to a regular classroom.”

It will be up to Inglemoor Principal Vicki Sherwood to find a way of keeping the distance-learning classes intact by revising her staffing model, Stoltzfus said.

The district proposed saving an additional $70,000 a year by doing without substitutes during the first five days of extended absences for classified staff members. This measure would not apply to special-education and safety programs.

Further reductions would come from reorganizing Northshore’s Saturday School program — which serves students with disciplinary problems — and eliminating a part-time office-manager position that is currently shared by the Westhill and Sorenson elementary schools.

The district also proposed increasing rental fees for its facilities to bring in an additional $90,000 a year.

“They (district planners) felt we were underpriced by that amount, based on the market,” Stoltzfus said. “They think that’s a doable increase based on what people pay for other facilities in this area.”

Other measures include:

• Replacing on-call security coverage with full-time staff members that can provide the same service, saving $30,000.

• Using $10,000 in Associated Student Body (ASB) revenues to pay for elements of event security that are currently covered with money from the district’s general fund.

• Eliminating $36,000 worth of stipends that the district has deemed irrelevant, such as those provided for the staff members who supervise high-school chess teams and junior-high parking.

Northshore has indicated that it will move forward with its controversial plan for cutting nursing and library positions next year as part of its original budget-balancing proposal.

The district will also continue to provide funding for the Camp Casey outdoor-education program, despite calls by some parents to end this support.

District officials have said that a new round of budget reductions will likely be necessary for the 2009-10 school year.

“If people think it was hard this year, it will look like a picnic compared to next year,” Stoltzfus said.