School district to unveil its revised budget plan

The Northshore School District is expected to announce a new set of budget-reduction measures at its April 22 School Board meeting.

The Northshore School District is expected to announce a new set of budget-reduction measures at its April 22 School Board meeting.

Administrators have been working on a revised plan for trimming expenditures by $3.4 million since the School Board decided March 31 not to close Woodin Elementary, a move that would have saved around $700,000 a year.

The district says it is trying to compensate for keeping the school open.

“More people are going to be affected by these other cuts,” said Northshore School District spokeswoman Susan Stoltzfus. “We could have avoided all of these if we had closed Woodin.”

Northshore was yet to release information about the new proposal at the April 11 Reporter deadline, but officials claimed the plan follows suggestions from the community.

“A lot of the cuts you’ll see on that list will be based on input,” Stoltzfus said. “A lot of people named the same things — things that parents and staff told us to cut instead of closing a school.”

The School Board will also decide April 22 whether to move forward with an earlier proposal for reducing the number of full-time district nurses.

Opponents of the $150,000 cost-cutting plan, such as the Northshore Educational Support Professionals Association (NESPA), say it will be a dangerous move for students.

The district would require nine schools to share nurses if the proposal goes through.

“I understand the need to reduce the budget, but they shouldn’t go at it with a hatchet when they don’t know what the results will be,” said Bear Creek Elementary parent Janice Merdgen, whose son is a Type I diabetic.

Bear Creek is one of the schools that would likely share a nurse next year.

“I’m concerned about who’s going to be there to test my son’s blood-sugar twice a day and give him injections,” Merdgen said. “The secretary’s not going to do it.”

Lockwood Elementary nurse Renee Bookey said she has three diabetics in her school.

“They’re my busiest kids,” she said. “I see them three or four times a day.”

Northshore nurses deal with more than students’ medical needs. They also provide social services like counseling and making referrals to outside agencies that can provide assistance for children who aren’t covered by insurance.

“Who will all of this fall to?” asked NESPA spokesman Kraig Peck. “It will fall to the people who don’t have the knowledge and don’t have the time.

“The district needs to look at its priorities, and safety for children should be at the top.”

Stoltzfus says the district will allow students to waiver into schools that have full-time nurses whenever parents deem it necessary.

Northshore claims that its budget problems stem from a lack of state funding, declining enrollment and inflation.

But the Northshore teachers union says there will be more money than the district is letting on.

Estimates from the Washington Education Association (WEA) indicate that Northshore will have an ending-fund balance of at least $2 million, which is more than the district had planned for this year.

“There isn’t as much of a financial need as the district claims,” Peck said. “They have an interest in being cautious. That’s one thing, and we also think they’re posturing for bargaining.”

Stoltzfus says the WEA analysis was inaccurate, and that it failed to take into account certain variables that affect revenue flow.

The school district and teachers union have both accused each other in recent weeks of posturing in advance of contract negotiations, which begin in May.

Frustrated over the Northshore School District’s budget problems?

The Northshore Public Education Foundation will host a fund-raising luncheon May 7 at the Lynnwood Convention Center. For details, visit or call (425) 408-7680.