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Spokane Public Schools administrators agree to furloughs

Tue., Feb. 15, 2011

Spokane Public Schools administrators – including all principals and vice principals – have agreed to take two unpaid days off to help put a dent in the looming budget shortfall for 2010-’11, enabling the district to avoid drastic mid-year cuts.

The reductions are coming after what schools officials are calling an “unprecedented move” by the Legislature. After the district’s budget had been set and faculty hired on contract for the school year, the state retroactively cut funds to public schools throughout Washington to stabilize the state’s budget, and more trims could be on the horizon.

In anticipation of the additional cuts, administrators agreed to the furloughs, said Mark Anderson, associate superintendent. “Administration decided they didn’t want to cut classified staff or eliminate a program, like a sport.”

The district saves about $110,000 by the 144 central administrators taking two days off. “I know it’s not much, but that’s the equivalent of two teachers,” Anderson said. The unpaid days off will be individually scheduled.

“While our district has managed its resources effectively and had some carry-over of savings from last year to help reduce cuts for next year, we are now going to have to use those savings just to balance the budget this year,” said Superintendent Nancy Stowell.

Spokane Public Schools cut about $6 million, which basically was its savings from the previous year, Anderson said. The state could cut an additional $2.6 million – money to reduce class sizes in K-4 and supplemental funds for districts with low property values – putting the district $1.5 million in the hole.

If that happens, the district would have to continue to look for trims in its current budget. Officials will be looking at a variety of options, including postponing painting projects for some buildings, savings in utilities, cuts in gifted programs and some summer school options.

“The goal is to stay away from programs that impact the classroom and kids,” Anderson said.

And what’s coming for 2011-’12, he added, “is yet to be seen.”

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