Edmonds School Board lays off 25 teachers amid $17.7 million budget shortfall

2131
3
The Edmonds School District building was packed with teachers, students, parents and district staff opposing budget cuts for the 2019-20 school year.

By a 3-2 vote, the Edmonds School Board agreed to send layoff notices to 25 teachers as part of its plan to address a $17.7 million shortfall for the 2019-20 school year.

“This is the hardest it’s been in 50 years of education funding,” said Board President Diane White.

The board vote came just before the state-mandated May 15 deadline for notifying district staff that they may lose their jobs during the upcoming school year. Board Member Carin Chase and Board Vice-President Deborah Kilgore voted against the staff reductions.

As a result, 25 teachers, two technology coaches and the full-time equivalent (FTE) of 8.5 elementary school assistant principals will be notified of layoffs Initial reports projected that 45 full-time employees would be laid off. Then, during a May 8 special meeting, the number was reduced to 43 FTEs.

Before approving the plan, the board of directors heard three hours of public testimony from district staff, students and parents opposing the budget cuts, which district officials said are “conservative” estimates.

Teachers cited concerns that the staffing reductions will result in larger class sizes, stating that such an increase would especially impact students with learning disabilities and those who speak English as a second language.

Students in Chase Lake Elementary School’s Consolidated Health Services program — which ensures students with life-threatening health issues are guaranteed an education — would be affected by the drastic cuts, said developmental kindergarten teacher Kelly Andrews.

“These students need frequent medical attention to make sure their basic needs are being met,” she said. “They require higher levels of attention to learn.”

Andi Nofziger-Meadows

Edmonds Education Association President Andi Nofziger-Meadows said the staff reductions are unnecessary and that the board should allow more leeway for a potential increase in student enrollment, which district officials do not expect to rise in the 2019-20 year.

“The budget presented is the ‘worst case scenario’ on every front,” she said. “They are not realistic and are adding unnecessary increases to the class-size ratio.”

Nick Wellington, an Edmonds-Woodway High School social studies teacher who could potentially lose his job, said he is disappointed in the district he grew up in.

“It’s been embarrassing to see our district singled out as the only district in Snohomish County to be struggling to meet the commitments you’ve made,” he said.

Unlike the neighboring Everett, Snohomish, Mukilteo, Lake Stevens, Marysville and Arlington school districts, the Edmonds School District is the only district facing layoffs.

The board agreed to vote only on the staffing decision in order to meet the state-mandated May 15 notification deadline. The board will reconvene at a later time to discuss other items like cutting $2.5 million in expenses for materials, supplies and operations budget and slashing more than 300 daily hours for paraeducators.

The Edmonds School District suffered a $20 million loss after the Washington State Legislature reduced the amount of money school districts can collect from voter-approved property-tax levies. In 2018, the district collected more than $67 million, but in 2019 only $47 million was levied.

Superintendent Kris McDuffy said people can expect to hear more updates as the board of directors continue to work until the budget is due in August.

“We are unfortunately recommending these reductions at this time,” she said. “But are remaining hopeful that some of the conservative reductions we’ve put forward will improve in the coming months.”

The current budget is not set in stone and the final budget depends on variables like the number of teachers retiring before the 2019-20 school year and the number of students who will enroll in the fall. If the district budget situation improves, staff members who have received layoff notices could be rehired.

“This has been evolving and changing hourly,” McDuffy said.

In other business, the school board heard a report from Executive Director of Student Learning Rob Baumgartner on new, inclusive books in school libraries. New works feature characters who are LGBTQ, Asian American, African American, Native American, struggling with deep issues such as depression, anxiety or homelessness.

–Story and photos by Cody Sexton

3 Replies to “Edmonds School Board lays off 25 teachers amid $17.7 million budget shortfall”

  1. “The Edmonds School District suffered a $20 million loss after the Washington State Legislature reduced the amount of money school districts can collect from voter-approved property-tax levies. In 2018, the district collected more than $67 million, but in 2019 only $47 million was levied.”
    .
    The above statement is bothersome. First, the reduction in levy revenue was not an unknown fact before the district decided to spend more than they were going to get. The result is that several teachers and staff will now loose their jobs. Will anyone be held accountable for the mismanagement of the budget?
    .
    Second, the way this is written does not appear to address the *increase* in revenue from the state. Was the net loss $20 million or is this statement meant to shade what is actually happening?

    Ignored

  2. It is disappointing to have only selected data presented by ESD. The presented data does not show the total picture of changes in local revenues. Citing a loss of $20m from local revenues is misleading and leads one to blame the legislature for the funding crisis. In reality while the state did reduce the local funding formulae it significantly added state funding for ESD. This data is from a report produced by ESD last Aug before the Legislature met to add more funding and funding methods for coming years.

    Hopefully the number line up correctly to make the data more clear. Here is the revenue from the 4 major sources, Local, State, Federal, Other. The data is for 2018 and 2019 all are in $m’s.
    Year…..2018….2019
    Local…..$68…..$59
    State….$190….$241
    Feds…..$15…..$15
    Other….$5…….$5
    Total….$279….$319
    Yes local funding went down by $9m but state funding went up by $51m for a net increase of $42m

    Local funding for 2020,2021,2022 are $50m, $53m, $53m respectively. With the change in the local levy formulae these number will be larger but ESD has not released those estimates.

    State funding for 2020, 2021, 2022 are $245m, $250m, $253 respectively. This was the forecast before the state added funding for special ed and for the $7000 increase for teachers from the state model.

    The primary point is while local revs do go down a bit, state revenues go up substantially so that in the 4 years represented by the ESD forecast the net increase in funding is $40m to $50m per year or $180m for the 4 years represented in the forecast.
    Here is the ESD forecast done in Aug for Salaries and Benefits for 2018 and 2019. This is for all employees not just teachers.
    Year……….2018…..2019
    Salaries…..$175m…..$199m
    Benefits…..$70m……$76m
    Total………$245m….$275

    The forecast shows for future years the increase for salaries and benefits are $13m, $9m, and $8m respectively. The big increase of $30m for 2018 to 2019 grows at a lesser amount for future years.

    These numbers may be confusing but do come from ESD “General Fund – Projection Summary” prepared last Aug 29th.

    The best way to look at the ESD funding issue is to look at all revenues, (local, state, fed and other). Likewise it is important to look at salary and benefits not just teacher S and B. When doing so you can see that the GF ending fund balance goes from $10m, $13m, ($4m), ($22m), and finally to ($39m) in 2022.

    You can do the math and see that instead of spending $30m on salary and benefits for 2018 to 2019 an increase of $20m would have created a fully funded budget out through 2022. That $20m would have been twice what is forecasted in the out years.

    Ignored

    1. Right, and reinforces my first point. The district knew they would be over budget, but went ahead with the pay raises anyway without reducing expenditures elsewhere. Now, many of the statements district managers regarding the shortfall attempt hide this, confusing the public.

      Ignored

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *