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District discusses layoffs with teachers

Tue., May 5, 2009

Spokane Public Schools invited 193 of its least senior teachers to a meeting Monday to talk about layoff notices they could be receiving next Tuesday.

As many as 150 notifications could be handed out, but most, if not all, will be recalled, said Staci Vesneske, assistant superintendent for human resources. The district anticipates laying off fewer than 40 teachers. It’s possible no one will be laid off, Vesneske said.

Basically, the district wanted to tell the teachers not to panic, Vesneske said.

A May 15 union contract deadline regarding layoffs and budget uncertainties led the district to send out the pink slips before knowing the bottom line.

School officials still don’t know how they will be able to use federal stimulus money and are waiting to find out whether the Legislature will lift the levy lid by 4 percentage points, allowing the district to collect more tax money from homeowners.

Raising the levy lid would fill about $6 million of an $8.8 million gap in the Spokane district’s $308.2 million budget, officials said.

Jody Lawrence Turner

Businesses help fund police bike patrols

Police bike patrols will continue downtown through the summer thanks to funding from downtown businesses. Spokane police officers will patrol from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. Thursday and Friday nights.

The patrols started Friday and will end Sept. 5.

The Downtown Spokane Partnership and Business Improvement District is chipping in about $50,000 to help pay for the patrols, which cost the Spokane Police Department about $120,000 in overtime pay last summer, police said recently.

Traffic patrols will reduce slightly to cover the bike patrols, police said at last month’s public safety meeting.

Meghann M. Cuniff

Park board weighing public pool fees

After a two-month break, the Spokane Park Board tonight will resume consideration of a proposal to charge children to swim in public pools.

The issue has caused controversy on and off for the past few decades. The city has only charged youths to swim one summer out of the nearly 100 years it’s had pools.

Park leaders have crafted a proposal that they say strikes a balance between keeping parks accessible to low-income residents and balancing the budget. Their plan would keep pools open 44 hours a week and charge kids a $2.50 entry fee during 24 of those hours.

Last year, pools were open 31 hours a week with no fees on kids.

Some neighborhood leaders say that the pools are essential to giving kids a positive activity in the summer and that many families can’t afford a fee.

The plan, they say, significantly cuts the number of hours of free swimming, making it more likely they’ll risk swimming in the Spokane River.

The board will accept testimony on the proposed fees at 6:30 tonight at City Hall, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.

Jonathan Brunt


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