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News / Clark County News

Washougal schools announce second round of budget cuts totaling $1M

$1M in cuts includes administrative, classified and teaching positions

By Doug Flanagan, Camas-Washougal Post-Record
Published: June 29, 2024, 6:11am

WASHOUGAL — The Washougal School District has implemented a second round of reductions to address its looming budget shortfall.

When district leaders announced the initial plan to reduce the $3 million deficit earlier this year, they said they may have to make additional cuts based on the outcome of Washington’s legislative session, inflation, student enrollment numbers and contract bargaining with labor groups.

Those factors did not move in the district’s favor.

Positions eliminated

The second round of cuts, which will save the district an addition $1 million, include:

  • Administrative cuts: interim superintendent salary concession ($25,000); eliminate district custodial manager ($60,000); eliminate ESD 112 communications manager ($25,000); eliminate business services director ($25,000); eliminate accounting manager ($106,000); furlough culinary supervisor and manager ($15,000); and reduce leadership vacation cashout ($40,000).
  • Classified staff cuts: eliminate 2½ paraeducator positions ($124,000) and two culinary staff positions ($80,000).
  • Teacher reductions: eliminate two teaching positions ($256,000).
  • Other cuts include deferred maintenance ($225,000) and athletic coach salary concessions and reductions ($40,000).

These cuts are in addition to those announced in February that included $3 million in cuts spread across administration, certified staff, classified staff and other reductions.

“As with (the first budget cuts), administrative positions and pay will be the category with the largest percentage reduction,” the district website states.

District leaders presented a preliminary budget to the Washougal School Board on June 11. The board is expected to vote on the budget during the Aug. 27 meeting.

“What I have to say, I don’t want to say, and you don’t want to hear, but I’m going to say it because it must be said,” Superintendent Mary Templeton said at the meeting. “We must make sure that we make those reductions, however painful that they are, so that we can have a balanced budget and that we can move into the future fiscally sound.”

The budget projects the district will receive approximately $52.4 million in revenue and spend around $50.6 million from its general fund during the 2024-25 school year. About 83 percent of the expenditures will pay for employee wages and benefits, including salaries and benefits for the district’s 161.3 instructional full-time equivalent educators, down from 174.7 in 2023-24. The remaining 17 percent funds educational materials, supplies and other costs.

The district said its ending fund balance will be 6 percent.

“Six percent is great, but really, 8 to 12 percent is better because cash flow throughout the school year gets pretty tight if you have only 6 percent,” Finance Director Kris Grindy said.

The shortfall was caused by a variety of factors, according to the district, including “underfunding” by the state, inflation, lower enrollment and a levy rollback.

District leaders advocated for increased funding during the legislative session that ended March 7.

“We are thankful that the Legislature provided a small amount of additional funding for materials, supplies, and operating costs ($21 per student),” the district stated.

The Legislature also provided a “small increase” in the funding formula for teacher assistants and office support staff, and increased the funding cap for special education by 1 percent.

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However, the district said the “increases are not enough to keep pace with the increase in costs the district is experiencing.”

Other costs rising

In addition, Washougal has been notified of significant increases in costs for the 2024-25 school year, including a 31 percent increase in insurance rates, which will cost approximately $100,000.

“Our utility, food and fuel costs will increase, and we are budgeting for approximately $500,000 in increased expenses due to inflation, including the insurance increase,” the district said.

The district has reached tentative agreements with the Washougal Public Schools Employees and Washougal Washougal Association of Educators unions. Contract details will be posted to the district’s website after being ratified by the unions and approved by the board.

The district projects an enrollment of 2,530 students in 2024-25, a 3 percent decrease from the 2,623 students enrolled in 2023-24.

Thanks to a voter-approved levy, the district has money for art, drama and music programs, athletics, clubs, nursing services, the district’s College in High School program, dual language offerings, transitional kindergarten, early learning and professional learning communities, and other programs.

“Despite fiscal challenges, our district is committed to providing a rich, supportive learning environment where every student can thrive,” Grindy said.

For more information about the Washougal School District’s 2024-25 budget, visit washougal.k12.wa.us/district-budget-information.