An initiative to help teachers improve instruction will disappear from Sumner schools next year, a casualty of hard budget times.
The Sumner district’s 13 schools will lose the district’s 12.5 professional development specialist wokers, who helped fellow teachers evaluate instruction, analyze student test scores and develop new strategies to help children learn, said Debbie Campbell, the district’s executive director of business services.
It’s one of the many cost-saving measures to close a $3.5 million shortfall between falling revenues and rising expenses in the Sumner School District’s 2009-10 budget. School Board members recently approved the $75.7 million general fund budget. The amount is $471,000 less than last year’s.
District officials foresee stable enrollment in the coming year. The budget estimates the district’s head count will come in at 7,766 students this fall, 10 more than in the just-completed academic year.
But like districts statewide, Sumner’s anticipated revenues will decline as a result of the state’s $9 billion budget gap for the coming two years.
“We had to make some hard decisions,” Campbell said. “It was a districtwide effort from our administrators … down to the custodians.”
The budget incorporates the loss of nine certificated positions through attrition, leaving the full-time-equivalent of nearly 502 teachers, principals and other staff with a certificate.
Year-round nonteaching employees, such as custodians, will lose two work days over winter break, and the pay that would have gone with those days.
The biggest revenue hit is to Initiative 728 funding from the state that must be spent on staff training, full-day kindergarten, class-size reduction or other specified uses.
The district anticipates receiving $1.6 million in I-728 dollars, a $2.5 million drop from this school year. Staff and programs once funded through those dollars that will now be cut include the professional development specialist positions, plus other staff who helped struggling high school students as well as scholarship money for full-day kindergarten tuition.
Staff who worked as professional development specialists last year will become classroom teachers this year.
“The most significant thing we’ll have to work on is how do we keep professional development going?” Campbell said.
Numerous changes are in store for students in sports and activities, too. At each of the district’s two comprehensive high schools, boys and girls will combine into the same team in golf; same with cross-country. Both high schools’ water polo teams will combine into one district team.
Among the many other cost-cutting measures:
• Elimination of one staff position at the swimming pool, leaving three staff members and shorter hours for public swimming.
• Elimination of a Sumner Middle School dean of students position.
• Leaving a human resources vacancy unfilled.
• Leaving a professional development administrator vacancy unfilled.
• Reducing assistant coaches in several sports, including one on each of the two high schools’ football teams.
• Requiring students in more activities, including dramatic productions, to pay the $25-per-activity fee. The fee, however, isn’t rising.
• Combining practices of the two high schools’ dance and drill teams, allowing teams to use the same adviser.
To see the 2009-10 budget, go to www.sumner.wednet.edu.
Debby Abe: 253-597-8694