School District budget reductions and next steps

The Anacortes School District has announced additional budget reductions and notified impacted staff, after carefully weighing all options, reviewing legislative impacts, and working with our bargaining units. 

News Release from the Anacortes School District:

Since last spring, the district has worked proactively and transparently to respond to a $3.2 million budget deficit. In particular, we want to thank our Budget Advisory Council and express our gratitude for the active participation of each and every member of the council. This council, consisting of staff, union representatives, parents, students, board directors, and community members, has played an invaluable role in our decision-making process. By coming together and sharing their insights, concerns, and ideas, they have helped shape the priorities and direction of our district. 

Additionally, we hosted various town hall events and informal “Java with Justin” get-togethers. We also discussed updates with all staff during staff meetings. The active involvement and feedback from across the district and community were instrumental in shaping our financial decisions.

At this time, we have met with impacted staff regarding a reduction in force.

For certificated staff, we needed to make RIF decisions by May 15. For classified employees, we are not required by State law to meet this timeline: however, we wanted to inform employees as close to that date as possible, which we have done.

We are still negotiating with classified bargaining teams. Therefore, there is a possibility of further reduction in hours, days, or positions.  

Legislative Session and Impact on Anacortes School District:

  • Implicit Price Deflator (IPD): As anticipated, the State will fund a 3.7 percent increase in IPD. As a reminder, the increase in State revenue does not fully fund the total cost of our employees based on their experience and bargained contracts. 
  • Experience Factor: We will receive an additional 4 percent experience factor for certificated staff. This is good news, as the additional revenue will make up the previous unfunded difference for some certificated employees. 
  • Retirement Rates: On a positive note, the retirement rates for employers will be reduced by 5.01 percent, thanks to the adoption of the Senate plan by the House. This will result in some savings for certificated employees not funded by the state and a portion of certificated employees not funded by the state.  
  • Special Education Rates: Other good news - we are receiving some additional revenue due to factors that have been increased in the State allocation.   
  • Materials Supplies and Operations Costs (MSOCS) Allocation: MSOCS allocation has increased by approximately 3.10%. However, it is anticipated that the increased costs associated with MSOCS will offset this increase, requiring us to carefully evaluate our budgetary allocations.  

Current Overall Reductions:  

A full list of reductions made to date can be found on our website

K-8 Library Adjustments: 

We have reduced an additional four classified paraeducator positions, effective with the end of the current school year. These four paraeducator positions currently staff our elementary and middle school libraries. 

The libraries will remain open and accessible to students but with limited personnel. The district’s one certificated librarian position at AHS remains intact. 

Students will still be able to access books in their classrooms, in the libraries, and through our partnership with the Anacortes Public Library. 

The district will also form an internal committee to determine how best to manage the libraries and keep the resources accessible to students, including possibly implementing a self-checkout system for books.

"These latest reductions are a painful reality that we face to make up for our budget deficit," said Superintendent Irish. "I want to thank these staff members for their hard work and commitment to our students. I can also assure our community that students will continue to have access to books and robust learning tools."

The district’s team, including principals, weighed many options before making this difficult decision. State funding does not fully fund librarians at all schools; the Anacortes School District has historically allocated these funds to elementary science specialists. 

The district has also worked closely with the paraeducator bargaining unit. Most impacted employees will have the option to move into another position, either through attrition or seniority rights. 

Next Steps:

As we progress, we remain committed to collaboration and problem-solving. 

  • We will continue diligently studying the legislative updates and their direct impact on the Anacortes School District. 
  • Additionally, we are actively negotiating with bargaining teams, recognizing that these negotiations may influence our overall budget. 
  • We must also continue working with AHS coaches to reduce high school athletic expenses for the next school year. 
  • All future vacant positions will be reviewed. 

We will navigate these challenges with transparency, integrity, and the utmost consideration for the well-being of our students and staff. We also acknowledge the difficult reality of losing valued members of our team due to budget reductions as well as recognizing that some employees have had a reduction in calendar days or hours for the next school year. It is with a heavy heart that we make these difficult decisions. Rest assured, we will do everything possible to support and assist those affected by these changes.