Tacoma Public Schools announces more layoffs

Tacoma Schools eliminates 19 positions due to budget deficit

In the aftermath of a teacher strike, Tacoma Public Schools has started the first phase of budget cuts, already eliminating 19 positions.
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In the aftermath of a teacher strike, Tacoma Public Schools has started the first phase of budget cuts, already eliminating 19 positions.

Come August, 31 staff members at Tacoma Public Schools will no longer be employed with the district.

The district announced Wednesday that it will lay off 31 people due to a budget deficit in the 2019-20 school year.

Nine administrative staff, nine certificated staff and 13 classified staff received layoff notifications this week. One teacher is included in the certificated staff.

State law requires districts to notify certificated staff by May 15 if they will no longer have a job with the district.

“It is with tremendous sadness that any employee receives a reduction in force or layoff notification, and we ask for sensitivity and understanding as these changes are carried out,” the district stated in an email to staff, parents and others.

Tacoma Education Association president Angel Morton said the nine certificated staff are working with students in the classroom, and that the cuts will impact services to kids at all grade levels.

At a time when (Tacoma Public Schools) is sitting on sizable reserves, they’re choosing to eliminate positions that support our students,” Morton said.

Earlier this year, the district cut 43 administrative positions to pay for teacher salary increases.

Tacoma Public Schools faced a $30 million budget shortfall next school year and passed a reduction in force resolution in early April.

Related: Search Salaries of School Employees for 2017-18

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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.

Starting in January 2020, Tacoma schools can collect the full amount voters approved in February 2018. That adds up to about $71 million, but cuts still needed to be made.

“To balance the 2019-2020 school year budget and reduce the number of layoffs, we plan to use an estimated $13 million in one-time funding, which includes district reserve funds and one-time funds from the legislature,” stated TPS. “This means we expect to face another round of budget reductions in the 2020-2021 school year. After that, we anticipate reaching a sustainable, long-term budget.”

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Allison Needles covers news in Puyallup, Sumner and Bonney Lake for The Puyallup Herald and education news for The News Tribune in Tacoma. She was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest.