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Bethel School Board decides to slash 45 teaching positions and other jobs

Post by Steve Maynard / The News Tribune on March 10, 2011 at 11:29 pm with 4 Comments »
March 10, 2011 11:50 pm

The Bethel School Board decided Thursday night to slash 67 positions – including 45 teaching jobs – and increase class sizes as part of a $7.6 million budget cut.

Positions for at least six administrators and six custodians would be part of the cuts. Class sizes would increase by one student in the fourth to 12th grades next fall, while classes for kindergartners through third-graders would add two students.

The board directed Superintendent Tom Seigel to make cuts to offset a $7.6 million reduction in state funding.

“It’s bleak,” said school board President John Manning after a nearly four-hour meeting at the district’s headquarters in Spanaway. “There’s no silver lining in this.”

The five-member board agreed on cuts of $7.1 million. It also decided to cover the remainder of the reduction using $500,000 of $12 million in expected reserves.

Manning said the Bethel School District has great teachers and he is hopeful the quality of education won’t suffer. “I’m sure they’ll do their best to maintain it,” he said.

Board members said they were forced by the state’s cuts to increase class sizes to the level which the state will actually fund.

“We’re forced to that position,” said board member Ronald Morehouse.

“It’s horrible,” said Joy Cook, another board member.

The larger classes will provide the biggest savings – $3.2 million – and the biggest reduction – 40 teaching positions.

Seigel said reduction-in-force notices will be going to at least 45 teachers. However, he said he was hopeful up to 30 teaching positions could be handled by attrition, such as retirements.

The 17,600-student district has about 1,030 full-time-equivalent teachers.

The district will also save $510,360 by closing Clover Creek Elementary for a year starting in the fall and moving its students to Naches Trail Elementary while a new $19 million Clover Creek school is built.

The $7.6 million budget reduction amounts to a nearly 5 percent cut in the district’s $160 million general fund operating budget. The board must approve the cuts as part of a final budget.

Tom Cruver, president of the Bethel Education Association, said increases in class sizes – which result in the loss of teaching jobs – are subject to bargaining between the teacher’s union and the district.

“We’ll see how it shakes out,” said Cruver, looking ahead to the next school year. “It’s a long ways till August.”

Leave a comment Comments → 4
  1. dustdevil11 says:

    Send this story to US Senate and Libs who just don’t understand how to cut. Regretfully, due to union contracts, administrators will be forced to cut positions of least seniority first. Or as in the Clint Eastwood movie title first cut The Good; seniority must protect The Bad and The Ugly.

  2. Alison7613 says:

    We need to protect our teachers with the most seniority because they are likely the most elderly of our teachers. It’s not always protecting the worst teachers that is the issue, but a lid against age discrimination. In addition, if we just start cutting the most veteran teachers, it will just be to save on state pension payouts which will eventually backfire as those people turn to other systems to support themselves. Let’s protect those who have been brave enough to stay in the field as long as they have.

  3. duckfan4ever says:

    Sadly, this is just the beginning of the systematic decimation of our public schools. The voters of this state have made it very clear that they are unwilling to pay the level of taxes necessary to continue funding our schools and other public services and institutions at acceptable levels. Even as our schools go to hell in the state of Washington, our increasingly ignorant populace will finally learn a fundamental economic lesson: You only get what you pay for.

  4. I think the nation can take a lesson from Bethels Board. They made the tough decisions, Im know it was hard, but facts are facts…and budgets have to be balanced,and they succeded! Bravo!!

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