News

School district budget passes; teachers OK deal

By ELIZABETH CIEPIELA

Staff writer

The School Board adopted Federal Way Public Schools’ 2003-04 school year budget proposal in a 4-1 vote Aug. 26.

District officials said the budget contains “many difficult reductions.” And while many board members admitted some of the cutbacks — especially staff reductions — were unfortunate, they said there was no other alternative.

Board member Charles Hoff was the lone dissenter.

“I think that some of these cuts are in the wrong places,” Hoff told the board. With the No Child Left Behind Act, he said, “we now have priorities that are dictated by the federal government and the state.”

“It’s a tragedy that we have to to reduce our funding at a time when we are required to raise our standards,” board member Bob Millen said.

He said he regrets some of the cuts to library staff, to music and to sports, “but to not make these decisions, we will have fewer teachers and larger class sizes.”

Superintendent Tom Murphy mentioned that there is a possibility that Outdoor Education — the popular camp program — might be saved. Members of a local grassroots organization called the Federal Way Outdoor Education Fund Board aim to save the program. They have come up with a plan to cut the camp week to four days and reducing tuition substantially, thereby costing the district no money to keep the camp afloat. Murphy said he is willing to listen.

Meanwhile, last Thursday the Federal Way Education Association ratified the new contract between educators and the district. The contract had overwhelming support, with few dissenters, union leaders said.

Shannon Rasmussen, vice president of FWEA, said the new contract will be valid for three years.

The highlights include a compensation increase that exceeds the COLA (cost of living adjustment). In addition, the contract includes an increase in healthcare benefits, as well as “many gains that affirm the professionalism of educators in Federal Way,” Rasmussen said.

The School Board is expected to ratify the new contract in September.

Staff writer Elizabeth Ciepiela: 925-5565, eciepiela@fedwaymirror.com

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