Higher prices for meals and after-school services, and a delay in introducing a new American Studies program are among the moves being considered by the Spokane Public Schools board to accommodate pay raises for employees.
The board was presented a preliminary budget Wednesday that attempts to reallocate $5.6 million in the $369 million budget, after pay raises were negotiated between the district and the Spokane Education Association last month.
The board will vote on the final budget proposal Oct. 14.
“This board made the conscious choice to make a substantial increase in employee compensation,” board President Jefferey Bierman said Wednesday night. “Here is where the rubber meets the road and we have to pay for what we decided to do.”
No positions will be cut, officials said. However, some new positions and programs may not be staffed. Additionally, the price for Express after-school services could increase by 5 percent.
Jenny Rose, president of the union, is happy that the district is looking at cutting “things, not people.” However, Rose is concerned that meal prices will increase. A 10-cent increase to meal prices saves $50,000 per year.
“It’s almost like they have to charge more for lunch to provide those salaries, which should not be connected in any way,” she said. “All they need to do is get rid of one administrator that makes over $200,000.”
Items considered for cuts were both one-time and ongoing expenses.
The proposed budget may delay purchasing curriculum for programs serving deaf and vision-impaired students. It also may delay expansion of the Odyssey magnet program for gifted students. Another proposal is to delay the adoption of a new eighth grade American Studies curriculum.
Board members raised concerns about the proposed curriculum delays.
“You’re only going to be in eighth grade once,” said board member Rocky Treppiedi.
A number of new staff positions, including some security personnel, may not be filled.
Board members voiced support at Wednesday’s meeting for moving ahead with a plan to hire five new principal assistants.
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