Coupeville schools cut to balance budget

After months of work that included cutting costs and eliminating positions, the Coupeville School Board signed off on the district’s budget for the 2009-2010 school year.

Superintendent Patty Page said the budget this year is the toughest one she’s experienced in her 30-plus years in education.

“We made the best of the worst,” Page said adding the school district is still committed to offering quality programs to students.

A combination of enrollment declines and less state money contributed to a $459,000 decrease in revenue in the school district’s $10 million budget.

The district is bracing for a 5.5 percent, or 58 student, decrease in enrollment in the coming school year.

Several factors led to the projected decrease. The outgoing graduating class is larger than the kindergarten class, and, since the incoming junior/senior class is larger, officials are bracing for more students to enter Running Start through Skagit Valley College in the fall. The projected enrollment decline accounted for approximately $300,000 of the shortfall.

The state eliminated funding provided for I-728 programs, which paid for programs that helped reduce class size.

Coupeville also eliminated several positions to help balance the budget. One counselor and three teaching positions were cut along with the Learning Partner program.

The school district did receive a $250,000 grant to boost programs at the juvenile detention center. That money will pay for one at-risk teacher, one at-risk counselor, a transition specialist and a paraeducator. The Coupeville School District is required to offer education at the detention center.

The Coupeville School District will finish the year with an approximately $800,000 fund balance, which is approximately the same amount the district had at the beginning of the year. Officials wanted to maintain such a fund balance to brace for further cutbacks they may have to consider in order to balance the 2010-2011 school budget.

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