Superintendent Steve Marshall informed staff of the district's forthcoming Reduction In Force in a letter to all HSD employees on Wednesday evening.
Dear HSD Staff,
I am reaching out to you to provide some information about reductions in staffing in the HSD. You have likely already heard that some changes will be made to school administrative, certificated, and classified staffing for the 2021-22 school year. It saddens me to confirm that this is indeed the case.
This is a very difficult decision that is being made to address ongoing budget challenges our district is facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. School districts in Washington receive funding from the state based on enrollment numbers and our enrollment has declined over 12% this year, mostly due to families choosing other options for their children’s education.
While our state approved its next budget this past weekend, we still do not yet know all of the impacts (both positive and negative) it may have on our school district’s budget. We estimate that the state budget did include over $1 million dollars in enrollment stabilization for the HSD. This is good news because our district is running a deficit of $1.4 million dollars this school year. However, bad news remains: Because next year’s enrollment has not returned to the level for which we are currently staffed, district-wide staffing reductions must be made for 2021-22.
Our enrollment and staffing challenges are further magnified by our increasing costs. While the state has increased our funding by 1.6% for 2020-21 and 2% for 2021-22, these increases have been dwarfed by inflation, with many goods and services increasing/expected to increase over 10% per year. Our district must also cover considerable legal expenses, contractual commitments, and unanticipated facility repairs.
It is important that you know that the HSD took many steps this year to minimize next year’s reductions. For example, we:
- Left open positions in Fall 2020 unfilled
- Reduced classified staffing at the district office and building levels
- Reduced district and building administrators and teachers’ salaries
- Secured two energy conservation grants and applied for a third (TBA April 30)
- Lobbied local legislators for enrollment and transportation stabilization funds
- Contacted families that unenrolled their students to determine their status for 2021-22
- Advertised open registration for new and returning students
- Started Transitional Kindergarten at HHES
- Applied for numerous private educational grants and facility improvement grants for the 2021-22 school year. (We will also apply for all forthcoming OSPI grants for which we qualify.)
Despite these efforts, our enrollment is currently 174 students short of budget. (Click here to view the 4/26 Enrollment & Budget Update Presentation.) This shortfall equates to $1.6 million dollars. We must balance our budget by reducing staffing to align with our level of state funding. That said, we do not want to lose our employees or reduce opportunities for our students. This is the main reason why our school board struggled with approving a Reduction in Force (RIF) at Monday’s Board Meeting - a step that is necessary to notify affected certificated staff by the May 15 deadline. The Board ultimately approved a RIF of 10.1 certificated staff, but we anticipate that the actual RIF will be lower due to retirements and resignations. The RIF also included classified and administrative reductions and those impacted will be notified in the coming weeks as well.
I know this is discouraging news, but I am holding out hope. While I know that hope does not pay the bills, I am hopeful that we will get past the pandemic, more students will enroll, and our staff can remain intact as much as possible for next year.
I ask that we all do our part to stay healthy, stay positive and stay together. These are all things that will help us get through these challenges and attract families to, and back to, the HSD.
I appreciate you all -