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Valuable communication tool the district has with the

John Little is an officer with the Oak Harbor Police Department who serves as the high school resource officer. - Nathan Whalen / Whidbey News-Times
John Little is an officer with the Oak Harbor Police Department who serves as the high school resource officer.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen / Whidbey News-Times

valuable communication tool the district has with the city.

School board members debated whether to keep the position but didn’t make any decision during the meeting.

“I’m personally very torn on the potential of this cut,” said board member Peter Hunt. He sees the effectiveness of the officer but said other positions would have to be cut if the officer remains. He said he is leaning toward keeping the officer at the high school.

Superintendent Rick Schulte said he would examine whether the position can be retained. He said from what he’s heard, the board may not be willing cut a teaching position, for example, to retain the police officer.

School district officials are trying to resolve a budget shortfall caused by continued enrollment reductions and escalating costs.

School board member Corey Johnson rattled off a list of questions residents have asked him about the district’s budget.

He questioned if the money taken in by school lunches could go toward maintenance projects, and Schulte said it could. He added the school district is looking at raising lunch prices to offset the increase in food prices.

Johnson asked if money received in supplemental Impact Aid could be redirected. Schulte said it’s better to wait until the school district receives that funding before deciding how to use it. That normally doesn’t happen until the summer and it’s never certain how much will be received.

Johnson also questioned the need for elementary school counselors during tight budget times. Schulte answered that the counselors started in 1991 and school staff consider them essential employees.

Officials are also looking at cutting an administrative position in a cost-saving move. Schulte said he wasn’t sure which position would be eliminated.

The school district is expecting to announce any possible layoffs during the May 12 board meeting. It begins at 6:30 p.m. and takes place in the school district’s administration building, 350 S. Oak Harbor St.

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