Superintendent Says Wenatchee Schools Will Need To Cut Its Budget By $8-9 Million
The Wenatchee School District is looking to reduce its budget by $8 million to $9 million to offset a shortfall in funding.
Interim Superintendent Bill Eagle gave a presentation at a school board workshop session Monday pegging the shortfall, after outlining a plan last month to come up with different ways to deal with funding issues.
He also revealed that the district made budget adjustments in the current year that resulted in a savings of more than $2.8 million from projections last June.
"These $2.8 million in deliberate savings will be critical to offset lost revenue due to enrollment decline, as part of our phased approach that will continue into the 2023-24 and 2024-25 school years," said Eagle.
Eagle said phasing the budget reduction over three years allows the district to spread the impact over multiple years.
Members of the school board mostly voiced support for the phased approach to dealing with the shortfall.
Eagle said he plans to draft a resolution to use the additional money to address budget cuts in the next school year of 2023-24.
The board could vote on the resolution as early as Tuesday. It'll hold a regularly-scheduled meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.
Eagle said it's going to be important for the cuts to be spread out evenly through the district.
"How do we spread it throughout the system across grade levels and departments, so that the impact is not borne solely by certain buildings or departments," Eagle said
The shortfall is blamed on the elimination of federal pandemic relief money as well as a sharp drop in enrollment and expected cuts from the state legislature this year.
Superintendent Eagle’s presentation also revealed survey results of school district employees from earlier this month.
It showed most of those surveyed identified staffing reduction as the chief way for the budget shortfall to be dealt with. Staffing reduction suggestions were primarily for non-classroom teacher positions.
There was also a perception among the workers surveyed that the district is top heavy in administrators.
In addition, Eagle said some of the suggestions were unrealistic, such as moving to a 4-day school week, which would take much longer to implement than the budget reduction schedule would allow for.
He also said there was a misconception among employees that replacing the use of iPads with Chromebooks would save a large amount of money. He said the district buys the devices in bulk, and the difference in price between iPads and Chromebooks was minimal.