Kent School District to cut 110 jobs from 2011-12 budget

The Kent School Board has approved cuts to 110 employees in the 2011-12 district budget because of a loss of federal and state funding.

Bill Boyce

Bill Boyce

The Kent School Board has approved cuts to 110 employees in the 2011-12 district budget because of a loss of federal and state funding.

The five-member board approved Wednesday a reduction of teachers, administrators, custodians and other staff as part of an overall $15 million budget reduction plan.

“This is a difficult process for everyone,” said district spokesman Chris Loftis in a phone interview. “We’re talking about people’s lives. And the worse news is this is an ongoing process. We’ve had budget reductions a number of years here.”

The district must send out reduction in force notices by May 15 to 76 certificated employees scheduled to be cut next school year. That includes teachers, counselors and administrators.

“We legally have to notify them by May 15,” Loftis said. “That’s why the board voted on April 27 so we can get the notifications out.”

Loftis said the human resources department is in the process to figure out exactly which employees to cut based on seniority and other issues.

“We know how many, now we have to figure out who,” Loftis said.

The cuts include about 31 elementary school teachers, 20 secondary teachers, nine special education teachers, five counselors and four high school assistant principals.

An additional 34 classified employees, including transportation, maintenance and central office staff also face layoffs. Those jobs do not legally require official layoff notices from the district.

The board decided at its April 13 meeting to keep elementary music and physical education programs that were initially proposed to be cut by district staff.

Instead of cutting numerous music and PE teachers, the board  cut staff from the kindergarten through sixth grade enhancement program; increased middle school class sizes to 25 from 24 students to cut 12 jobs; cut National Board teaching stipends; and cut four high school assistant principal positions.

Once the Legislature determines exactly how much it cuts state funding to schools, Kent might be able to bring back some staff. The number of retirements and teachers who leave the district for other jobs or move out of town also will determine how many teachers end up losing their jobs.

“Hopefully, we will be able to recapture some of the positions,” Loftis said.

The district employs 3,300 people, including 1,745 teachers and has a total budget of $325 million.

“We are facing about a 4 to 5 percent reduction in the budget and 87 percent of the budget is personnel costs,” Loftis said.

For more information, go to the Kent School District website at www.kent.k12.wa.us.


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