POST FALLS - With Post Falls' upcoming school budget expected to be reduced by about $1.2 million, job cuts are expected for the next fiscal year.
"There is very little doubt that we will have fewer positions in the district next year than we have this year," Superintendent Jerry Keane said after a districtwide budget workshop on Tuesday. "However, it is way too early to know any specifics. It will take all spring and part of the summer to sort this out."
The State Department of Education will hold a budget workshop on May 2 at North Idaho College so districts will have a better understanding on how much will be reduced then.
But Keane said about $1.2 million less is estimated. It will be the district's third straight budget decrease.
"Half of the decrease is coming from the state shortfall of $47 million and the other half will be reduced from our salary-reduced apportionment to pay for new technology," he said. "We will be receiving money for new technology, but it is unknown what that amount will be at this time."
No decisions have been made on reducing programs or staff, Keane said.
At the budget workshop, maintaining support staff and class sizes were listed as priorities.
"(Para-professionals) provide much assistance to students both academically and behaviorally, which benefits the students served, other students in the classrooms as well as the teachers," said Mandy Surratt, West Ridge Elementary principal.
Ponderosa Elementary Principal Kathy Baker said quality contact time between students and educators means the difference between student success and failure.
"Our staff is willing to take pay cuts via furlough days in addition to a reduction in family medical benefits to protect programming for the children," Baker said. "I am so proud of our staff because, despite the current climate, they continue to keep everything they do about the children."
In a staff survey, Prairie View Elementary employees said they would like to maintain as many certified and classified positions as possible along with current salaries.
"I think we all understand that the budget process this year will not be easy and that we all need to work together to make it work," Prairie View Principal Colleen Kelsey said. "Our first priority, as always, is finding a way to sustain the quality education that we currently provide for our students."
River City Middle School Principal Mike Yovetich said he believes that, despite reductions in recent years, the district will continue to provide a quality education.
"(Post Falls) has solid leadership and my experience with (the district) has left me confident they will work hard with the district's stakeholders to find the best possible way to implement the changes that are going to be required," he said.
The district will lose about $500,000 in federal stimulus funds that is helping keep jobs. Post Falls voters recently approved a supplemental levy of $2.6 million per year for two years that will limit the budget bleeding. The funding will increase taxes by $12 per year for the owner of a $184,000 home.
The district started to meet with the Post Falls Education Association on Wednesday regarding teacher contract negotiations. Several meetings are expected.
A public hearing on the school budget will be held on June 13 at 6 p.m. at Post Falls City Hall, 408 N. Spokane St.