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Federal Way schools avoid teacher layoffs

No teachers will be laid off next year from the Federal Way School District.

In fact, not much will change at all for the district.

Superintendent Tom Murphy presented his budget proposal Tuesday night, and that proposal is to stay the course for one more year.

The budget means that every current teacher who is eligible for contract renewal will be brought back next year.

"They might not all be in the same building, they might not have the same position, but they will all have a job next year," Chief Financial Officer Sally McLean said.

Revenue losses

The district is losing $3.1 million in state funding this year. The vast majority of that came from I-728 funding, an initiative passed in 2000 by 72 percent of the Washington voters. It was meant to improve education by reducing class sizes while continuing education of teachers. However, the initiative was only fully funded from fall 2007 to spring 2009, before it was cut down by a third last year and completely eliminated for the next school budget year.

There is still some remaining funds leftover from the previous year's I-728 funds — about $750,000. The district plans to use that money to continue the all-day kindergarten program.

In addition to loss of I-728 funds, the district lost $500,000 in funding for the 181st day, which is used for teacher training; $200,000 for fourth-grade staffing ratios; and $400,000 for NET Basic Education adjustments.

The district did "gain" $300,000 in health care contribution costs. However, the district never really sees that money because it goes straight toward health care. Additionally, the district already has a planned expenditure next year, or $1.3 million, in previously bargained increases in costs.

Revenue gains

This year, there is a voter approved increase in the levy collections that will affect the school district's next budget. That will mean an additional $3 million coming to the district. Also, the state passed a piece of legislation allowing the local effort assistance percentage to be raised from 12 percent to 14 percent, which means the district will be getting another $1.4 million.

That means the district will still be short $300,000 for the budget, but rather than make cuts, the district will instead dip into its reserve fund balance, which is kept higher than many other districts on the advice of McLean.

"One more year is one more year," school board member Amye Bronson-Doherty said. "And I'm thankful for it."

This was the final budget presentation for outgoing Superintendent Tom Murphy, who is retiring at the end of the school year.

"I will really miss the conversations," Murphy said. "I won't miss the constant every year reduction. There will come a time where that will simply break the hearts of people. I really pray (new superintendent Robert Neu) will be able to present a budget that has increases."

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