Cuts to 156 staff positions proposed in Tacoma’s 2019-20 school budget

Tacoma schools will operate with 156 fewer staff members next year as it works to balance its budget.

In a newsletter sent Tuesday, Tacoma Public Schools announced cuts to 116 school-based staff and 40 administration and central office staff in its proposed 2019-20 budget.

“The proposed budget includes position eliminations and spending cuts across the district to help balance a budget with modest revenue growth and higher added costs,” the district stated in the email.

Cuts to full-time equivalent positions include:

  • 20 management positions

  • 8 custodians

  • 8 nutrition services staff

  • 8 maintenance staff

  • 18 office professionals

  • 7 paraeducators

  • 2 principals

  • 17 professional technical staff

  • 2 security staff

  • 63 certificated staff (includes a variety of positions and roles, including teachers, librarians, counselors, nurses and other specialists)

While revenues increased, so have costs, according to district officials.

The district’s total costs for the 2019-20 school year stands at $481 million, a jump from $466 million in 2018-19. The district estimates a $43.8 million increase in costs next school year.

About $5.9 million of that comes from new state requirements on K-3 class sizes passed by the Legislature this year. The district must hire 46 new teachers to meet the standards.

Another state-required switch to a state benefits program passed by the Legislature this year is costing the district $7.1 million. Another $23 million stems from salary increases as staff climb the pay scale.

The district Board of Directors held a public hearing on the 2019-20 budget on Thursday.

The proposed budget increases spending in areas of “academic excellence” by $20 million, including classroom staffing, administration staffing and special education. Instructional coaches, learning assistance programs and career and technical education will see a drop in funding.

The proposed budget also increases spending for early learning by $1.8 million.

The area of safety saw a drop in funding by nearly $1 million, mostly stemming from security staff and emergency preparedness programs.

Earlier this year, the district cut 43 administrative positions and another 31 individuals received reduction in force or layoff notifications in the spring.

Rosalind Medina, chief financial officer for the district, pointed out that deficit budgeting will continue for another year, even as some revenues are expected to rise.

The state Legislature passed a bill on April 28 that increases the amount of levy funding school districts across the state are able to collect from local property taxes.

“We will have close monitoring of our financial position over the next year to ensure that we are keeping ourselves in good position,” Medina said at the meeting.

The proposed budget returns to the Board of Directors on July 11 for final approval.