Lake Pend Oreille School District to cut $1M

Reductions needed despite passage of supplemental levy

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SANDPOINT - A commitment is a commitment, especially if it involves education.

Voters recently passed the Lake Pend Oreille School District supplemental levy by a whopping 70 percent margin. District officials consistently said, during the lead-up to the vote, that even with its approval about $1 million still would need to be cut from the district's budget.

A preliminary peek at those cuts and where they could be made was presented to the board of trustees Tuesday night during a preliminary 2015/2016 school year budget meeting.

"We have to make some adjustments," LPOSD Superintendent Shawn Woodward said. "I've been given my marching orders to find a million dollars so we can balance when we start the school year."

At over $227,000, the biggest single slice will likely come from Clark Fork Junior/Senior High School. Naturally, some were unhappy about those possible cuts that could include losing two to five staff members.

But it's the small, rural schools turn, Woodward said. Clark Fork has been spared from the staffing adjustments that other schools in the district have experienced.

Most of the proposed changes are due mainly to enrollment, which has fallen in recent years. The state educational system is such that funding is tied to enrollment. A drop in enrollment eventually leads to staff cuts, Woodward told the board. "It's just the way it works."

The demise of Coldwater Creek last spring blindsided the district. The district's budget was not prepared for that, and "that's part of the issue."

"We cannot be caught flat-footed again," Woodward said.

Ongoing uncertainty about the status of federal forest money from the Secure Rural Schools program doesn't help, he added.

Other proposed budget cuts include between $50,000 and $58,000 in staffing from Sandpoint middle and high schools, Farmin Stidwell and Southside elementary schools, and nearly $30,000 from Sagle.

The budget juggle also includes dropping a principal and sharing the other between Hope and Northside elementary schools.

There are also smaller reductions in office staff and paraeducator positions.

The preliminary budget also factored in savings in retirements and reductions in facilities, technology and transportation budgets.

LPOSD operates 11 schools.

The budget is preliminary; trustees made no decisions. The final budget will be adopted at a future board meeting.

Budget presentation documents will beamed available today on the district website at www.lposd.org, officials said.

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