Kent School Board adopts 2011-12 budget that includes 78 fewer jobs than last year

The Kent School Board unanimously approved a $308 million budget on Aug. 24 for the 2011-12 school year that is $18 million less than last year and includes 78 fewer jobs.

The Kent School Board unanimously approved a $308 million budget on Aug. 24 for the 2011-12 school year that is $18 million less than last year and includes 78 fewer jobs.

Board members had initially approved most of the cuts at a budget meeting in April because of a reduction in federal and state funding.

The final cuts included 39 teachers, but all but 10 of those were hired back to fill other vacancies created by retirements, career and family moves and other attrition, according to an email from Chris Loftis, spokesman for the Kent School District. Other job cuts were among administrators, custodians and other staff.

The district has 3,300 employees including nearly 1,700 teachers.

“A district this size has a lot of movement everyday,” Loftis said. “We had a lot of attrition with retirements and others deciding to move on.”

That led to even a few new hires because of where jobs opened up.

“Bottom line, we have 78 fewer positions overall from last year but our normal annual staff turnover each year was greater than that number so we do have some new faces across the district,” Loftis said.

The board had looked last spring at cutting elementary music and physical education programs. But after a community protest to cutting those programs the board decided to reduce staff in the kindergarten through sixth grade enhancement program and by increasing middle school class sizes to 25 from 24 students .

The district lost more than $5 million in federal stimulus funding as well $5 million in state funding because of budget cutbacks at the federal and state levels.

The budget also is lower than last year because of capital projects that were completed, Loftis said.

Board members might have to make more cuts down the road as the state looks at further reducing its budget even after a $4 billion cut in the spring in the two-year budget.

“The budget is not at the bottom of the trough,” Loftis said. “We anticipate mid-year cuts this year. It’s not like we are overstaffed. We are running a tight ship.”

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