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News / Clark County News

Vancouver Public Schools expected to cut 262 positions to make up $35 million shortfall

Proposal would cut 50 elementary teachers, nine teacher librarians, among others

By Griffin Reilly, Columbian staff writer
Published: March 8, 2024, 10:36am

The Vancouver school district is proposing to cut nearly 262 positions to alleviate a $35 million budget deficit, according to a document included in next week’s board meeting agenda.

The proposed reductions include 50 elementary school teachers, 63 middle and high school teachers, and 33 teachers on special assignment. The district is also expecting to cut 10 counselors, nine teacher librarians, 29 custodial positions and 19 central office positions.

The resolution also states that all central office administrators — including the superintendent — will be furloughed for nine days.

“Given the gap between what is funded from our state and the cost of staffing and running our schools, our current model is not sustainable,” Vancouver Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Snell said in an email Friday. “Each of our staff contributes to what happens in our district each day. To reduce the support we are able to provide is heart-breaking and very frustrating.”

Vancouver’s proposed cuts are steeper than those announced last month by neighboring Evergreen Public Schools, which is facing a $19 million budget deficit and looking at cutting 140 positions.

Vancouver school leaders first announced the need for sweeping cuts during fall board meetings. They said an 8 percent to 10 percent reduction in the budget would be necessary to address the loss of pandemic-era federal relief funding and inflation.

District leaders said they sought public and staff input through a handful of online surveys from November to February and received more than 2,000 responses.
The survey results, which are available on the district’s website, reveal that respondents strongly opposed cutting teachers and increasing class sizes, while expressing substantial support for making more cuts at the district’s central office.

The district is expected to share more information during its board meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. More information about Vancouver’s budget challenges can be found on the district’s website: vansd.org/2024-25-budget-information.

Community members can attend the meeting in person at the Bates Center for Educational Leadership, 2921 Falk Road, Vancouver, or via Zoom at vansd.zoom.us/j/81569937231.

Initial reactions

Jamie Anderson — president of the Vancouver Education Association, the district’s teachers union — said her membership is in a “triage situation” following the document’s posting online Thursday evening.

“My recollection was that the board directed (district leaders) to minimize cuts at the classroom level,” Anderson said Friday. “Cutting 100-plus classroom teachers, I don’t see how that minimizes impact to the classroom.”

Anderson, who was appointed union president in August, said that although there was open communication between herself and district leaders about potential reductions in recent months, she felt she and other labor leaders didn’t have any substantial input on where the reductions would be made.

She added that while the proposed cuts aren’t yet finalized, the timeline for what’s to come next week doesn’t leave much room for changes.

“I feel like this is fairly set in stone,” Anderson said. “I know they’re planning on notifying individuals (whose positions are being cut) by next Friday, so I feel like there’s not a lot we can do.”

A district spokesperson reiterated in an email Friday that the reductions are still “proposed recommendations” but that the board could approve the plan as early as the upcoming Tuesday meeting.

“This is going to make our class sizes balloon out of control,” Anderson said. “It’s honestly terrifying as labor leadership, as a parent and as a teacher.”

What: Vancouver Public Schools board of directors discussion of proposed budget cuts

When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Bates Center for Educational Leadership, 2921 Falk Road, Vancouver, or https://vansd.zoom.us/j/81569937231 online