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Bremerton schools may see 'pay for play,' but no lay-offs

The Bremerton School District will likely avoid laying off teachers and cutting programs, but it may have to increase fees for high school students and athletes.

The district may also resurrect either the physical education, library or music program, all cut the previous year, but it would only last a short time, Director of Finance and Operations Wayne Lindberg said this week.

The district faces a $776,000 budget shortfall for the 2010-2011 school year, but with much of that offset by retirements and leftover dollars from I-728, money intended to keep elementary class sizes down, the district has $250,000 left to cut.

Though the district has not yet made final budget decisions or even solid recommendations on cuts, a draft budget with more specifics is expected July 8.

To help recover some of that money, Lindberg said Associated Student Body fees at Bremerton High School may be increased from its current rate of $25. The district may also consider a “pay to play” fee for student athletes to help pay for school athletics programs. Lindberg said he is hesitant to establish a “pay to play” system, but the district may at least charge a small transportation fee to offset the cost of bringing athletes to games.

The district could bring back one of the three elementary “specialist” programs eliminated in a $2.5 million budget cut last year – something that parents and a district budget committee have rallied for this year. If the budget can reach a $300,000 ending balance, Lindberg said, the district can reinstate either physical education, library or music next year. However, it would probably be short-lived, with the 2011-2012 school year facing an estimated $2 million deficit.

So far, $100,000 of budget savings from the 2010-2011 will come from the re-routing of bus routes, which will result in the reduction of one whole route and part of another one. Other cuts are coming through unfilled vacancies and retirements and switching to a Microsoft e-mail system instead of hosting a district system.

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