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School district exploring options for cuts

 


School Superintendent Paul Turner is doing his budget for next year, quite possibly the most difficult he will ever prepare.

The Grand Coulee Dam School District is facing what he described to the board as a potential $745,000 shortfall if everything remains as it is today.

Monday, Turner stated that he has constantly been revising budget plans for next year and he expects to start making some final decisions this Thursday after meeting with school administrators.

The district has until June 15 to notify teachers if they are not going to be rehired, a change from the normal notification date of May 15. Turner said that Monday he learned the state had set the later notification date.

He told the board two weeks ago that he would probably cut loose one administrator and at least three paraprofessionals, as well as some programs.

This budget is Turner’s first in this district. He has been operating this year on an $11 million budget prepared by former superintendent Dennis Carlson. Turner referred to the current budget as austere when it passed last July, although it was a half million more than the prior year’s budget.

When making decisions on the current budget, the board opted to retain programs that benefitted students and anticipated more funding from the state than the district received. This resulted in the pending budget problem for this next year, Turner stated.

Turner explained that the district has a large number of students that come from financially stressed families.

“When we get a student, we get the entire student,” Turner said. “We are concerned whether the student has had breakfast or not, is healthy enough for the school day, and if they have proper clothing (particularly in the winter).”

“Schools provide a safe environment for students and for the learning process,” Turner added. “In some cases, students feel safer at school than at any other time of the day, and we supply that security.”

As for the next budget year, Turner said he is still shuffling things around in the hopes that he can find a way to retain at least some of the special programs.

The superintendent did acknowledge that some programs will be cut, as well as personnel.

“I hope to have a final plan in time for our next school board meeting, May 22,” Turner said.

Turner had stated earlier that the district is looking at all its contracts to see if there might be some leverage there.

The district contracts with North Central Washington Educational Service District for services of about a half million dollars a year. “We are looking at whether we need that level of support,” Turner said.

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