A Mason County school district faces layoffs as parents say administrators are getting raises

MASON COUNTY, Wash. — It’s a small school district with big budget problems.

The Pioneer School District in Mason County has only two schools with 740 students.

But it’s facing a $1.7 million deficit.

And now, there’s layoffs, including an elementary school principal and vice-principal, along with other staff, including nearly a dozen paraeducators.

That’s disturbing news for parents and school volunteers like Ashleigh Risley.

“Cuts for people who make next to nothing and are very hands-on and involved in lives every single day and we’re going to lose a lot of them. I think a lot of people are really worried about what the future is going to hold, why it’s got to this point and where we’re gonna go from here,” said Risley.

Superintendent Jeff Davis says, because of rising costs for supplies, utilities and insurance, the layoffs are necessary.

“Very hard discussion. They are people with families and it’s the hardest thing a superintendent has to do,” said Davis.

But parents are asking why staff is getting cut while a few administrators get big raises.

“We’re not seeing pay raises. We get what the state gives us. There is a document that was floating around yesterday that stated that my base my salary was $236,000. Well, it’s $236,000 when you include the insurance benefits and all the mandatory payroll expenses, but my base salary is $181,000,” said Davis.

The superintendent says he doesn’t anticipate any more layoffs.

“We’re trying not to impact the kids -- that’s number one priority, that’s why we kept teachers,” said Davis.

“That completely discredits and quite upsets me that he thinks that these paraeducators do so little that he thinks that this isn’t going to make an impact. That is a statement of somebody who has next to no involvement in the daily operations of this school,” said Risley.

Parents said they planned to demand more transparency during a community meeting with district leaders Wednesday night.

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