Enumclaw Announces Budget Reductions for 2004-2005

The Enumclaw School District Board of Directors met with district officials to review planned budget reductions for the coming year. Joining hosts of other school districts recently announcing budget cuts, Enumclaw faces reductions of 1.7 million dollars as a result of state funding shortfalls and continuing enrollment declines.

Mr. Tim Madden, Director of Business and Operations, explained to Board members that in spite of reduced payroll, state funding has failed to provide money to pay for significant increases in payroll taxes and benefits, and only partially funded announced salary increases. This has contributed to substantial shortfalls for the school district. Additionally, the state has failed to offset inflationary increases in operating costs, thereby shifting those costs to local districts. Local conditions have also contributed to the financial problem. Smaller entering kindergarten classes of the past five years have caused elementary enrollments to fall sharply. One of the effects of that decline is smaller elementary schools that become more expensive to operate. "The water and sewer moratorium is hitting us hard these days," stated Madden. "New families with young children are generally moving south into Pierce County."

To meet the challenge of deficits, the district has identified strategies and areas of budget reduction without major layoffs. No RIF (Reduction in Force) is anticipated for teaching and certificated staff, but through attrition, the district has identified positions that can be eliminated or reduced. Those include partial reductions in counseling, speech pathology and music, all at the elementary schools. Middle schools with fewer students will mean reductions of secretarial hours and fewer teachers, in addition to the loss of a middle school counselor and librarian last year.

The central office and support services also see significant reductions through the elimination of two full-time administrative positions and a reduction of another from full-time to 8/10ths. The special education coordinator position was also reduced by half. The facilities maintenance department will be reduced by one staff member, and it will lose secretarial support. District budget reductions for supplies, materials and equipment will affect technology and administrative offices, food services and athletics.

School programs affected by cuts include the elimination of supplemental "literacy schools"(special reading emphasis classrooms), the "literacy center"and part-time literacy support (training) teachers. District budgets supporting textbook purchases have been targeted for reductions for one year; special education preschool classrooms will be consolidated into a single location; and the transportation department, which has seen its deficit steadily increasing, is examining all routes and schedules to look for potential savings.

In accordance with legislative cutbacks and intent, I-728 funding will continue to be reduced in supplemental areas such as extended learning opportunities, and instead will be used to fund teaching positions.

"As long as we continue to see the district caught in enrollment declines, state funding shortfalls, and increasing costs for operations, there will be annual reductions"stated Dr. Art Jarvis, superintendent. "In virtually every area we continue to see the state finding solutions to their shortfall by passing costs to the local districts. I would predict that Washington citizens will continue to see headlines similar to those so evident this spring, announcing budget cuts in school district after school district. We have taken our reserve funds (rainy day funds) from a healthy level to a bare minimum. Those districts without a significant reserve are already cutting teachers. I have faith that we will make it through the tough times but it is truly painful. This is a great staff and they will make it work."