How North Kitsap School District will cut $1.3 million

The North Kitsap School District will hold off on hiring 6.5 FTEs and will cut expenses in 14 areas to make up a $1.3 million revenue shortfall caused by an unanticipated decline in enrollment.

POULSBO The North Kitsap School District will hold off on hiring 6.5 FTEs and will cut expenses in 14 areas to make up a $1.3 million revenue shortfall caused by an unanticipated decline in enrollment.

Holding off on hiring will save $565,000, according to district documents. The non-personnel reductions total $731,300.

Among the vacancies on the personnel side: one special education teacher and an academic/behavior coach. The biggest hits on the expense side: $250,000 in maintenance and $100,000 in technology replacement.

“In order to meet our revenue projections, our enrollment would need to have an increased average of 250 students,” a budget update issued by the district stated. “Based on our most recent enrollment, we do not anticipate this happening.” She said the reduction “allows [the district] to maintain the desired 5 percent reserve fund.”

The school board approved the reductions on Oct. 13.

According to the budget update, when enrollment increased last year the district “took a close look at enrollment models and brought in a demographer to assist in analyzing our enrollment data. The district model and demographer recommendation were extremely close.”

But enrollment took a downturn in September. “We have seen a slight increase in enrollment between September and October, however, it is not enough to meet our revenue projections.”

Superintendent Patty Page said enrollment has been within 1.5 percent of projections each year since she became superintendent in 2012. Prior to that, enrollment numbers were volatile leading to cuts in positions because of a change in how the district projected enrollment, and out-of-district transfers because of changes in programs in some schools.

“The district has been projected to continue to lose students, 50-80, for the next few years,” Page wrote in an email to the Herald. “Last year, we had a spike and exceeded projections. Because of that, it altered the pattern. Some of our spike last year were [high school] students and it appears some did not come back. We did have an error in the budget number which complicated the loss.”

She added, “We do look closely at why students leave. We actually had more come than left this year, but it really follows the trend we had been predicting. We are still trying analyze why students left this year.”

School Board President Beth Worthington said this year’s enrollment decline “was a surprise.”

“We don’t know where that’s from,” she told the Herald. “It may be people moving. Last year, enrollment was a little higher than the year before. All of those [projections] showed a slight increase, and a demographic study also led us to believe we were turning the corner.”

Worthington said the district tries to stay on top of why students leave. “We have someone who goes and calls all the out-of-district transfers. We work at trying to get that information [and] we’ve been making gains in getting those students back,” she said.

Worthington said the district has been investing more in alternative education and the [Parent Assisted Learning] program. “We haven’t heard any negatives about our programs,” she said. “We’ve been standardizing [with the goal of] 100 percent of third-graders reading and NKSD being in the top 5 percent in graduation rates. It’s always a work in progress, but we have been pleased with the progress we’ve made.”

Meanwhile, the district update states that 2017-18 “and beyond” is uncertain. “We do know that reductions will need to be made. Expenditures are expected to be higher than projected revenue next school year. The district will be continuing to look at budget reductions as we plan for 2017-18.”