Bremerton School Board says hands off PE and music

All-day kindergarten, librarians, physical education and music classes are among programs the Bremerton School Board advised the district Finance Committee Thursday to spare in this year's round of budget reductions.

The recommendations came following a look at state budget projections, which show that the district's $34.2 million budget next year could lose anywhere from $675,000 to $1.4 million in state dollars.

The board's advice to the committee was informal, meant to guide the committee's budget recommendations due back to the board late April to early May.

The state budget projections indicated a likelihood that the state would take anywhere from $840 to more than $45,000 from Bremerton's all-day kindergarten program, an item that board members repeatedly emphasized must be spared from heavy cuts. But, with a projected district budget of more than $878,000, it wasn't the most threatened program in the budget.

One red flag both Superintendent Lester "Flip" Herndon and Director of Finance and Operations Wayne Lindberg pointed to was the state's proposal to eliminate funding for Initiative 728, a voter-approved initiative that draws money to schools for professional development, student assessments and staffing to reduce class size. Both the state House and Senate propose to eliminate all funding for that program, opening the potential for staff cuts.

The state may also pass a 4 percent levy lid lift, bringing the levy limit from 24 percent to 28 percent.

Because the school district reduced physical education and music education classes from twice per week to once per week last year, board members Carolynn Perkins and Scott Rahm urged the committee to give those programs a reprieve.

After the committee delivers its budget recommendations to the board this spring, the board must submit the district budget to the state by the end of August, though personnel changes must be decided by May 15.

The Finance Committee and School Board will meet for another study session to hear the committee's priorities March 11.

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