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News / Clark County News

Washougal schools superintendent Mary Templeton takes $21,000 paycut to help trim budget shortfall

By Doug Flanagan, Camas-Washougal Post-Record
Published: February 24, 2024, 6:05am

The leader of the Washougal School District has volunteered to reduce her compensation by almost $21,000 as part of efforts to address a $3 million budget shortfall.

Superintendent Mary Templeton asked to reduce her base salary by $7,200 for the 2024-25 school year, according to Les Brown, the district’s director of communications and technology. She will also concede $5,906 in vacation buy-back and waive a $7,792 salary increase and inflation adjustment.

“In addition to reductions in professional development, travel, and professional memberships, my pay cut and pay freeze allow me to demonstrate a willingness to be part of the solution,” Templeton told The Post-Record. “These sacrifices will help us protect staffing and programs that are important to the community. As we make these really difficult decisions, I feel the responsibility to share in the sacrifice I’m asking others to make.”

Templeton earned $245,475 during the 2022-23 school year, her fifth year on the job, according to data listed by Washington State Fiscal Information, a government accountability website.

“We’re making sure that everybody is aware that we have approximately $3 million that need to be cut,” Templeton said during the school board’s Feb. 13 meeting. “I don’t like saying it, and people don’t like hearing it, but that is our reality, so we must make sure that we attend to our reality and do the hard things.”

The latest reduction plan includes adjustments in the following categories:

  • Administrative reductions ($484,000, 10.4 percent): eliminate assistant superintendent position; reduce custodial manager and communications manager positions; implement a pay freeze and cut for superintendent, directors and supervisors; and reduce board travel, professional development, professional memberships, and superintendent vacation benefit, travel and training.
  • Certified staff reductions ($1.6 million, 6.4 percent): eliminate 4.6 supervisory teacher-on-special-assignment positions, 6.8 secondary positions and 4.2 elementary positions.
  • Classified staff reductions ($694,000, 5.3 percent): eliminate two secretaries, one attendance coordinator, one transportation staff member, one custodial staff member, one security staff member, one culinary services staff member and one technology staff member; suspend community education preschool program; reduce highly capable program administrative support; and implement district office clerical pay freeze.
  • Other reductions ($208,000, 2.8 percent): decline to renew contracts with AVID, PLC@work and EduClimber; reduce employee assistance program, weather-forecasting services, community newsletters, travel and professional development; and defer turf-replacement project.

The district also proposed to suspend its community education preschool, dual language program expansion plan; and to reduce Washougal Learning Academy instructional support and highly capable program administrative support.

The proposals mirror the results of a recent community survey that indicated a strong preference that the district should reduce more from administrative and district office support, and contracts, services, travel and professional development, and less from certificated staff and classified staff, and maintain student experiences, including activities and athletics.

Enrollment decline is a main reason for the shortfall, Assistant Superintendent Aaron Hansen told school board members. Enrollment peaked at 3,063 in the 2017-18 school year. This year, the district is projecting 2,646 students.

Due to the lower enrollment numbers, Finance Director Kris Grindy said, the district has been unable to collect all of the money from its most recent educational programs and operations levy, which voters approved in April 2023. The district was set to collect $9.5 million in 2024 but will receive only $8.8 million.

The district is also being challenged by increased costs for insurance, fuel, utilities, health benefits and food for student meals.

The district will hold a “superintendent roundtable” event from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 19, at its administrative office and a “board listening tour” event from 3 to 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 9, at the Excelsior building at Washougal High School.

For more about the district’s budget process, visit washougal.k12.wa.us/district-budget-information.

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