Several western Washington school districts cutting costs through layoffs, school closures

Across western Washington, some school districts are starting to take steps to cut down on costs, and for many this means layoffs and school closures.

“I mean, it is a concern. I would love to see smaller class sizes and more staff, not the opposite,” said Kindel Surek, a mom of a student in the Everett School District.

On Tuesday, the school board there voted unanimously in favor of a plan that would cut about 140 positions. Those positions include teachers from the elementary to high school level.

“I mean, it makes me nervous,” Leann, a mom of two students in the district, said. “I think they should keep the teachers. And I mean this is, these are our future right here.”

The district said it’s facing a $28 million deficit that it needs to make up for.

“It’s surprising considering the growth, at least in our area, of the school district. At least it seems like we’re already overcrowded and classes are large, and I’m just curious how that’s going to work,” Surek said.

Unfortunately, cuts like this are happening region-wide. Seattle Public Schools notified more than 30 staff members that their positions could be eliminated next year. In the Bellevue School District there’s an ongoing fight between the district and families over the closure of three schools. The interim superintendent is advising the district close three schools primarily because of low enrollment.

According to the Everett School District, the cuts are necessary because they are expecting expenses of $28 million will be greater than their revenue. “Some factors are yet to be determined so we do not have an exact number at this time. The reasons why this is happening is outlined on our budget page. It comes down to increased costs of materials and services, increased staffing costs, the state not covering all basic education costs and unpredictable funding over time.”

When asked if 142 people will lose their jobs, a representative said, “There will not be 142 people losing their jobs. There will also be a reduction in operational expenses, but since the majority of school district expenses are staffing, there must be staffing reductions in order to meet the $28 million. We are moving forward with the reduction plan now, but know the budget numbers will be more solidified after the Legislature comes out with IPD (cost of living) at the end of the session, as well as any additional funding from the legislature. We will not know the exact special services funding from the state and the levy distribution (based on CPI) until August. So, the plan is a little fluid and therefore an exact number of positions lost cannot be specified at this time. We do believe the majority of reductions will happen through attrition (resignations and retirements) and not filling currently open positions.”

They also added that students would not be impacted, as well as class sizes.