Superintendent recommends $2 million in cuts to Highline Schools budget
Superintendent John Welch has recommended $2 million in cuts to the 2011-2012 Highline School District budget after the Legislature slashed 1.9 percent from the teachers salary schedule and 3 percent for funding of certified administrators salaries.
Among the cuts suggested by Welch at the May 25 school board meeting were reducing two management positions and cutting five classified staff positions.
Welch had previously announced that finance director Susan Smith Leland will take over the duties of assistant superintendent for support services Geri Fain when Fain retires in June. Welch said May 25 that a technology management position will also be eliminated.
Other cuts proposed by Welch include moving to a six period day at Highline High in Burien and eliminating the first grade Challenge program for gifted students.
The superintendent did not recommend eliminating any librarian positions. Over the last few months, the board has heard numerous speakers supporting the value of teacher-librarians.
Highline Education Association vice president Theresa Carlson told board members teachers are upset that the Legislature did not authorize furlough days as part of the 1.9 percent teacher pay cut. The Legislature did not authorize districts to reduce school days or hours.
"Teachers will not work 180 days for 176.5 days' pay," Carlson declared.
A first-year elementary teacher, who has received a layoff notice, told board members she typically works 12-13 hours a day.
Leland said after the Legislature's budget agreement, the district faces a $4.1 million to $4.5 million shortfall. She said Welch will make his final budget recommendations on June 22 with a public hearing set for Aug. 10. The board is scheduled to pass the final budget on Aug. 24.
In other business, board members gave preliminary approval to adoption of "Math in Focus (The Singapore Approach)" as the new textbook material for elementary math instruction.
Curriculum director Angus Mairs said the materials will be supplemented with strong professional development and technology supports for teachers.
The materials will be implemented in all third and fourth grade classrooms for the coming school year. Cost for the first year would be $923,000.
Parent Paul Hewitt, a member of the district's elementary math advisory committee, praised the visual nature of "Math in Focus" as its biggest strength.
Mairs noted "Math in Focus" placed in a three way tie with "Envision 2011" and "Math Expressions" in a straw poll vote among the district's service areas.
Final approval by the board is set for June 8.
During public comments, Rachael Levine, president of the White Center Library Guild, warned that King County Library System staff has recommended the White Center and Boulevard Park libraries be closed and consolidated in a new building between the two sites.
Levine noted computers and other materials in the libraries are heavily used by Highline students and parents. She added that many library patrons must walk to the libraries.
The library board is set to vote on the recommendations at its next regular meeting June 28 in Issaquah.