School board cuts budget, personnel
By Jack Kintner
The Blaine school board followed earlier recommendations of superintendent Ron Spanjer to the letter in passing a slimmed-down budget for the coming year at Monday’s regular board meeting.
They also began the process of replacing retiring member Pebble Griffin, who plans to leave the board following its regular September 22 meeting.
As reported earlier, Spanjer and district business manager Donna D’Angelo recommended a roughly three percent cut in expenditures, or slightly more than $600,000 in projected expenses of $21.7 million in the coming 2008-2009 budget year. The pinch has come in unexpectedly sharp increases in expenses, especially fuel.
“Last year’s budget estimated the price of diesel (school bus) fuel at $2.69 per gallon,” said D’Angelo, “but we were paying $4.35 a gallon toward the end. Next year we’re estimating it at $5.50 per gallon, over twice as much as last year.”
Surprises like that being more than a little unwelcome, Spanjer explained that the new budget takes a conservative approach in budgeting for fuel, food and utilities. Plans were drawn, for example, to pre-purchase some non-perishable foodstuffs to hedge against future price increases.
The cuts were made by eliminating two teaching positions, the hours of work for classified staff which resulted in pink slips for eight non-teaching personnel and cutting several administrative expenses. “It’s all out there on the table,” Spanjer said as he handed out a three-page memo that specified program cuts, adding that he expected that many of the laid-off personnel will be rehired fairly soon as the district’s income picture becomes clearer.
No teachers were laid off as those cuts were absorbed by staff resignations.
Spanjer also recommended, and the board agreed, to dipping into the district’s six percent budget reserve for as much as $400,000 for some costs that cannot be deferred such as repair and maintenance items, textbooks and bond payments.
A detailed outline of cuts and next year’s budget is available at the district office.
Griffin’s retirement from the board ends an 11-year incumbency for the former educator. Her term officially ends in 2009 when the new appointee must run for the spot on his or her own.
The new director must reside in and will represent district 3, roughly that part of the district that lies south of Birch Point Road including Birch Bay and Point White Horn.
Interested parties should submit a formal letter of interest between August 4 and 22.
As per district policy, all candidates will be interviewed by the current board members, most likely in early September. The newly selected member will be sworn in at the October 27 meeting and will have to formally run for election to the board in November of 2009.
For more information about becoming a Blaine school district board member, contact the district office at 332-5881.