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District set to cut 7.5 jobs

— Seven and a half jobs are set to become the next casualties of North Wasco County School District 21’s budget struggle.

“There are no good choices to make anymore,” Superintendent Candy Armstrong said before announcing the plan for next year’s reduction in force.

Her comments came during a special school board meeting that provided board members with a brief preview of what will be presented in more detail to the district’s budget committee Thursday night.

The current plan includes cutting one elementary school music teacher and one elementary school physical education teacher. The Talented and Gifted coordinator’s full-time position will be cut to .5 FTE, and Armstrong said sequester cuts to federal Title I funding is causing the district to lose a licensed Title I staff member as well.

Armstrong said that the district was hoping to find the money to keep Trudy Townsend, who has been the director of the four-year Safe Schools Healthy Students grant, but now that the grant has run its course the district can no longer afford to fund the position.

The budget also calls for cutting two custodial positions and a secretary. The secretary position will be eliminated when the district combines the facilities and transportation offices. The move will also allow the district to stop paying rent for the building facilities department has been using.

Armstrong reminded the board that the budget was based on current conditions and could change.

“This is what’s in the budget, but there are a lot of moving parts that are still moving. We have two contracts out there and the legislature is still in session,” Armstrong said

She said those whose positions were on the chopping block had been informed before the meeting, but noted that some of those people may be able to stay on with the district in a different capacity due to retirements and resignations. Chief Financial Officer Randy Anderson said the cuts would bring the budget into balance after the district faced a $520,000 shortfall.

The first budget committee meeting is May 9 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the Wahtonka library. The second meeting, which will include time for public comments, will be May 16 at 6:30 p.m.

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