Washougal School Board passes Reduction in Force resolution

If implemented, up to 20 certified staff could lose their jobs

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Citing continued state budget uncertainty, the Washougal School Board passed a Reduction in Force resolution at its last meeting.

If enacted, up to 20 certified staff members could lose their jobs. However, the Board and Superintendent Teresa Baldwin emphasized that the district plans to avoid this if at all possible.

“We have no intention of implementing this but have to include the ‘worst case scenario’ if we need it,” Baldwin said. “Right now, this is just procedure. It’s not a reality.”

The state Legislature is still debating its 2011-13 budget, which includes approximately 23 percent for K-12 funding. The state was projected to have a shortfall of $4.6 million during the next two years. When Gov. Chris Gregoire released her proposed budget in late 2010, it closed the shortfall but included deep cuts to education.

The Legislature is currently deciding how to spread these reductions. A bipartisan Senate proposal includes a $250 million, 3 percent teacher pay cut. A counter-proposal by House Democrats includes reducing the school year by three to five days, and a $56 million pay cut instead.

But until the budget is decided, local school leaders are in wait-and-see mode.

“This year, we are at the latest we can recall with no (state) budget,” Baldwin said.

By law, any certified staff members have to be notified by May 15 if they are going to receive a RIF. However, it does not necessarily mean 20 people will permanently lose their jobs.

“Even if an employee does receive a RIF notice there is always the possibility that they will be hired back for the next school year once the budget situation improves,” Washougal Human Resources Director Doug Bright said.

He gave the example of several staff members who received RIF notices in spring 2009, but were all re-hired by the start of the 2009-10 school year.

The Camas School Board has not yet passed a RIF resolution.

“We don’t have enough budget information yet to know if we are going to have to reduce staffing or not,” Human Resources Director Rita Pakenen said. “We are also assessing a possible reduction with any registrations/retirements that we have. If we do have to reduce our educational programs, we may be able to cover it through attrition rather than reductions in force.”