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News / Clark County News

Camas schools find jobs for most teachers who were cut

Of '35 to 37' affected by reduction in force, positions have been found for 27

By Kelly Moyer, Camas-Washougal Post-Record
Published: August 19, 2023, 6:01am

Following a 2023-24 budget process that included more than $5 million in cuts, Camas School District leaders say they have been able to find positions for 27 of the 37 certified teachers included in the district’s planned reduction in force.

“We are coming out of the (reduction-in-force) process,” Camas School District Superintendent John Anzalone told the Camas School Board during the board’s July 23 meeting. “I will tell you this was a very respectful and collaborative process.”

Of the “35 to 37” certified teachers included in the district’s reduction in force notifications in June, Anzalone said, the district has been able to find “positions most aligned to their qualifications” for 27 teachers.

“We tried to really work with each individual principal and individual teacher as well as with (human resources employees) to find homes for people that … aligned with their skill sets as much as possible,” Anzalone said. “We hope to never have to go through that again.”

The district still has 10 certificated staff members who are impacted by the district’s budget cuts going into the 2023-24 school year.

‘Approaching new age’

Faced with a reduction in revenues — due mostly to declining enrollment rates, decreased state funding that helped school districts in higher cost-of-living areas attract and retain employees, and the end of one-time COVID relief funds that have kept many Washington school districts afloat since 2020 — Camas School Board members agreed in 2022 to use more than $8 million from the district’s general fund reserves along with cost-containment strategies and budget cuts to help offset revenue shortfalls and balance the budget within four years.

“We are approaching this new age for the Camas School District,” the school district’s finance director, Jasen McEathron, told Camas School Board members in April 2022. “Enrollment is the single biggest thing that drives our funding. … We were experiencing 2.5 percent growth before the (COVID–19) pandemic. Now we’re forecasting pretty modest growth over the course of the next four years, from 0.65 to 0.8 percent per year, so it’s definitely different.”

A 2022 enrollment forecast showed the school district’s student enrollment is expected to grow again, but slower than in the pre-pandemic years. McEathron said that although the pandemic caused some Camas families to withdraw their students from public schools, the forecasted enrollment slowdown is also due to pre-pandemic problems, including a high cost of living that shuts out many families with young children.

“Birth rates are down, and the cost of housing in Camas is very expensive,” McEathron said in 2022. “So we cannot expect to see 2.5 percent growth. We were already on a pathway for enrollment to slow down, and that was going to change our revenue curve.”

During the school board’s July 23 meeting, Anzalone provided board members with the most recent enrollment figures and said he was feeling “cautiously optimistic” about the numbers, which showed that at least 385 new students will attend Camas schools in 2023-24, climbing from an enrollment of 6,872 students in July 2022 to 6,942 students in July 2023.

“It’s better to see those numbers up instead of down,” Anzalone said. “Overall, it’s rather promising.”