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Bremerton schools slash $1.5M from staff, athletics to balance budget

After crunching numbers, the Bremerton School District appears to have a budget plan set for the 2008-09 school year that would erase a $1.3 million shortfall.

The preliminary draft budget, presented Tuesday at the last in a series of community forums, shows cuts in administration ($151,00), certified staff ($720,000), classified staff ($407,503) and various departments ($283,433), including athletics.

The cuts would total more than $1.5 million and cover the $1.3 million shortfall, leaving an extra $250,000 for undesignated reserve, said Wayne Lindberg, director of finance and operations.

Lindberg called the budget a “working document” and said the numbers could change on a “day-to-day” basis between now and next school year.

“This is a best estimate,” he said. “You just don’t know until October or November.”

Expenditures are impacted by fluctuating costs in utilities, facilities usage fees, food prices and others, while revenues may change as heavy impact aid and other grants rise and fall.

“It gets real interesting,” Lindberg said.

The district expects about $52.5 million in revenues for the 2008-09 school year, more than $580,000 shy of the $53.1 million in expected expenditures.

That $580,000 makes up nearly half of the $1.3 million hole.

The bulk of expenditures — 83 percent — will go toward personnel payroll, including nearly $11.5 million in benefits.

“That’s because retirement has gone up, insurance has gone up, everything has gone up,” Linberg said.

The remaining expenditures will cover non-employee related costs such as supplies and materials, contracts, travel and capital outlay.

While the number of employees who will be out of a job is still to be determined, Lindberg said the draft committee’s “intent was to do this early” so there would be no “surprises.”

The district is set to reduce teaching and administrative staff through attrition, as nine teachers will retire and one has been riffed. An additional 10 to 12 non-teaching positions figure to be eliminated as well, Lindberg said.

“We hate to see somebody cut because we know somebody (else) has to make up for it,” he said.

The board of directors studied the projected budget at a board meeting Thursday — that information was not available at press time.

If approved by the board, the draft budget would be released to the public and submitted to Educational Service District 114 by July 10.

An Aug. 7 meeting is scheduled for public hearing and board approval of the final ESD 114 budget.

The final numbers are expected to be reported in late October or early November to confirm the actual ending fund balance budgeted for 2008-09, Lindberg said.

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