August 29, 2009 in Washington Voices

East Valley budget preserves teachers’ jobs

District cuts central-office positions, support services
By The Spokesman-Review

East Valley School District directors adopted a 2009-2010 budget Tuesday that preserves all teaching and classified jobs despite deep cuts.

The budget follows a plan developed in May, in response to patron requests, to cancel proposed teacher layoffs and cut central-office administrative jobs and other spending instead.

The new $42.6 million general fund budget is down $408,000 from the current budget.

It draws down the district’s reserves by about $400,000, leaving a projected ending balance of approximately $1.2 million – about 3 percent of the budget.

Like other school districts, East Valley faced a funding crisis because of the state Legislature’s decision to suspend payments authorized by voter initiative to reduce class sizes and improve staff training.

“About 70 percent of that money disappeared,” Superintendent John Glenewinkel said.

In addition to leaving an assistant superintendent’s position vacant and eliminating two other administrative positions, the budget calls for 10 percent reductions in support services across the board. It also slashes about $200,000 from the district’s curriculum replacement program.

The curriculum cut is one of the bitterest for Glenewinkel.

“In an ideal world, we would want to renew all of our instructional materials every seven years,” he said. “We were just pulling into a position where it felt like that was a realistic goal, and this economic downturn set us back on that.”

If revenue improves, “building budgets” for incidental expenses at each school would be restored first, Glenewinkel said.

He’s not optimistic about that.

“The state economy is getting better, but in the short term we are still extremely nervous that … we could see further reductions even in midyear,” Glenewinkel said.

He commended the community and school board for the collaboration that produced the budget, and he predicted “we’ll need to continue to have conversations.”

The budget assumes the district will have 4,238 students in the coming year, compared with 4,394 in the past year. Glenewinkel said the district anticipates losing about 100 students a year for the next four years.

In addition to the general fund, the budget includes $585,631 in the associated student body fund, $117,063 in the debt service fund, $14,150 in the capital projects fund and $330,000 in the transportation-vehicle fund. The total in all funds is $43.6 million.

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