District staff makes sacrifices under looming budget cuts
From a mathematical standpoint, the Stanwood- Camano School District is looking to shave 6.5 percent off the budget for next school year.
Help arrived from within.
The Public School Employees of Washington (PSE) labor union representing classified educational support professionals approached Linda Littlefield, executive director of human resources for the district, with a proposal.
Rather than renegotiating its contract, district PSE employees decided to maintain current salary schedules. Typically, said Littlefield, groups look to re-average salaries during negotiation years.
“Basically what they’ve done,” she said, “is save the district some money.”
The news excited members of the board during a budget review on Tuesday.
The decision is helpful in more ways than one. With negotiations out of the way, the district can focus on hitting the target reduction mark.
How much money the group of paraeducator, campus security, technology, secretarial, maintenance and grounds, custodial and food service staff (approximately 270 employees in all) is saving the district is difficult to estimate.
A comparison of salaries from this school year to next, factored with scheduled step increases due to experi- ence, minus any additional non-salary related costs potentially dropped from state funding, would be the formula. More budget information needs to be handed down from Governor Chris Gregoire.
The bottom line, members of PSE are sacrificing a possible wage increase by opting out of the re-averaging process.
“They’re helping us out, it’s great,” said Littlefield.
Other staff groups are doing their part to find cost reductions before eliminating positions.
The district office administration, including five certified and three classified employees, are maintaining their salaries as well. Last school year, the group forfeited professional development funding.
School principals are giving up professional development funding and sticking to their current salaries.
The non-represented group of district office employees has denied salary increases and scheduled steps.
Board president Roger Myers wasn’t surprised by the sacrifices.
“This is indicative of the spirit of cooperation within our district,” he said.
Director Julie Dean offered a “sincere thank you to staff for the incredible gift.”
Now, the budget task force is searching for other reductions, said Superintendent Jean Shumate, Ed.D.
Including the reductions set for the current school year, “We’re looking at a $6 million cut over two years,” she said. “It’s nice to see people working together in difficult times.”
Other school board news:
• The Stanwood Middle School music program received a Gemeinhardt flute valued at $800 from Dawn Cairus. Jack and Anne Callaghan donated a Pearl Bell kit valued at $250 to the program.
Stanwood High School received $139 from Wells Fargo Community Support/ United Way campaign on behalf of Laurell Johnson and Dustin Karstetter from the Educational Matching Gift program.
• Director Darlene Hartley was recognized for receiving the Medallion Award from Seattle Pacific University (SPU). The SPU alum was chosen for outstanding service to the university, her community and chosen profession.
Staff Reporter Adam
Stewart: 629-8066 ext. 115