Battle Ground school board approves budget

Plan includes 1.9% pay cut, 177 days of student instruction

By Howard Buck, Columbian staff writer

Published:

 

BATTLE GROUND — School board members on Monday adopted without change the $119.7 million operating budget plan previously unveiled for 2011-12, which cuts spending by about $4.8 million, or 3.8 percent, from last year.

The 5-0 vote follows month of contract negotiations between district administrators, teachers and other employees of Battle Ground Public Schools.

The budget counts on a 1.9 percent pay cut for all district employees, to match a reduction in state basic education funding for teacher salaries.

On seven days, schools and district offices will shut down completely around noon, to produce half-day, unpaid furloughs to account for reduced pay.

Students will receive 177 instruction days, as the district employs a third and final waiver of Washington’s standard, 180-day calendar. They will find more crowded classes, an average two extra students per classroom, as 32 teaching positions were cut.

The belt-tightening is driven by declines in state and federal education funding, along with a continued slide in enrollment, to an estimated 12,400 full-time students this year.

In other action

• Board members agreed to permanently move regularly scheduled meetings to Monday afternoons, inside the “C” classroom building of the former Lewisville Middle School.

Starting Sept. 12, regular board meetings will begin at 4:30 p.m.; work sessions will start at 3 p.m.

Already home to several school administrative offices, the Lewisville complex is more convenient for more patrons than is the CASEE complex in Brush Prairie, board President Steve Pagel noted.

Lewisville is at 406 N.W. Fifth Ave. in Battle Ground.

The board will continue to meet occasionally at other schools throughout the year.

• The board approved purchase of synthetic turf for new Prairie High School athletic fields built on what once was the campus septic system drain field. The FieldTurf will cost $451,000 and matches that in use at District Stadium at Battle Ground High School.

The Prairie fields will be used for football practice, boys and girls soccer team games and practices, physical education classes and field drills by the school’s Junior ROTC unit.

Federal stimulus dollars backed construction bond money used to tie Prairie into the local sewerage system. That freed up space for the new play fields, also funded by the bond dollars.

Howard Buck: 360-735-4515 or howard.buck@columbian.com.