The Anacortes School District has announced a shakeup among school principals and other personnel, including staff reductions, as part of a cost-cutting effort for the coming school year which the district hopes will achieve greater efficiencies.
Ryan Pike, current Whitney Early Childhood Education Center and Cap Sante High School principal, will become co-principal with current AMS principal Patrick Harrington. Pike is a former middle school principal who has extensive teaching and administrative experience. Harrington, meanwhile, is a successful veteran principal with 11 years at the helm of AMS. The co-principal model is research-based and has proven successful in other districts, according to a news release from the School District. In addition to their co-principal duties, Pike will maintain his role as the district’s secondary assessment coordinator and Harrington will direct student safety across the district. The retirement of long-time assistant principal Mark Perkins allowed the district to consolidate administration to achieve cost savings.
Kecia Fox, current assistant principal at Anacortes High School, will resume duties as the Cap Sante principal. Fox served in this role for three years prior to the 2018-19 school year. She will retain many of her duties at Anacortes High School, while focusing on supporting the team at Cap Sante as they prepare to move into a new building and complete work on a strategic vision.
Shannon Gilbert, assistant principal at Island View Elementary, will assume the role of principal at Whitney. Gilbert is a capable leader with experience supporting all students, including those with special needs. She will maintain some duties at Island View, including assessment and support for special education.
“We have a very capable and collaborative team of leaders,” said Superintendent Mark Wenzel. “I appreciate their flexibility in taking on these new roles and I believe these changes will best serve our students and staff, while facing the reality of our budget shortfall.”
The district says it is facing a shortfall of a least $1 million with a $40 million budget for the coming 2019-20 school year. This is the result of the Legislature capping local levies as part of the "McCleary fix" last year. As a result, ASD was not able to collect about $1 million of voter-approved funds. Legislative fixes may help address the problem in future years, but changes need to be made now to offset costs for next school year. The district also faces declining student enrollment which is a key driver of state revenue.
The school board has set guiding principles to address the deficit in our operational funds:
- Try to avoid cuts that will negatively impact classroom learning
- Maintain school safety and security
- Keep a positive focus on kids
- Maintain co-curricular programming
- Preserve the integrity of the strategic plan and strategic initiatives in quality instruction, social-emotional learning, equity, partnerships and stewardship
The district has taken other steps to reduce costs, including:
- Elimination of the district’s community engagement coordinator position. Keiko McCracken will transition to an open position in the Student Support Services Department due to the retirement of long-time district employee Sue Matto.
- Reducing staff at the district office.
- Identifying community-based alternatives to the district's tuition pre-school. Pre-school is not funded by the state and our program has been heavily subsidized by the local levy. While we place great value on the outstanding work of our pre-school staff, we are looking at other pre-school models not funded by the district.
- Consolidating support staff at the high school. To align with the prototypical school model, we have consolidated administrative support at the high school.
- Achieving cost savings through attrition. We plan not to replace 2-3 teaching positions across schools. Our lower enrollment helps absorb these cuts.
“We still need to identify additional areas for cost savings,” said Wenzel. “We’re committed to doing so deliberately in alignment with the school board’s guiding principles.”