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Sept. 20, 2020

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Battle Ground Public Schools announces furloughs for 152

Budget shortfall amid falling enrollment prompts reductions

By , Columbian Education Reporter
Published:

Battle Ground Public Schools announced furloughs and reductions in hours affecting 152 employees in the district.

The Board of Directors approved the temporary reductions Monday. Last month, the district furloughed 107 classified employees in anticipation of a $9.9 million budget shortfall resulting from enrollment declines in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The district’s general fund budget, as adopted in August, is about $199.3 million.

The furloughs impact classified employees including basic education assistants, office and health room assistants, campus security, media technicians, intervention specialists and discipline clerks. Teachers were not affected.

Like other school districts in the region, Battle Ground continues to meet virtually. It hopes to ramp up in-person services for students later this month. Superintendent Mark Ross said in a news release that the district hopes to bring back furloughed staff when students return to the classroom.

“These are very difficult decisions,” Ross said in a district news release. “I know it can be traumatic to lose work and have to change jobs. I recognize the effect this has on people.”

Furloughed employees will retain their health benefits, and will be eligible for unemployment benefits.

Battle Ground and other school districts face budgetary challenges stemming from the novel coronavirus. School districts report more families opting to home-school their children, enroll in private school or wait to enroll their kindergarten-aged children.

Enrollment in Battle Ground is down 1,100 students, or about 9 percent fewer students than anticipated. Enrollment in the district was 13,423 in 2019, according to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. In Washington, enrollment plays a big part in state funding formulas.

District officials warned additional budget cuts are possible as the district invests in personal protective equipment, classroom technology and other programs to serve students during the pandemic.

“Now that we have more concrete enrollment numbers, we can make more certain adjustments and maintain our fiscal responsibility,” said the district’s chief financial officer, Meagan Hayden, in a news release.

Battle Ground Public Schools employs about 1,500 people, of which 685 are in classified positions.

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