WHS position removed from chopping block

Gordon Washburn will remain in an administrative position at high school

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After Washougal School Board members received “numerous,” calls and e-mails, they decided to remove from consideration an administrative position up for potential elimination.

The position is held by Gordon Washburn at Washougal High School, where he currently serves as associate principal. Under one potential budget scenario, his position would be reassigned as student services director, which would save the district approximately $14,600. This is in combination with not hiring an assistant superintendent and re-assigning the position as a curriculum director.

Under another option, deemed, “worst case,” by administrators, Washburn’s job would have been eliminated entirely, and an associate principal from elsewhere in the district would have been brought in keep administrative staff at the high school to three people. This option would save $126,000.

However, Board President Blaine Peterson said after receiving feedback from concerned community members, he thought it was best to keep Washburn at the high school in an administrative capacity, whether as associate principal or student services director.

“I do not feel that this position should be on the table for budget cuts,” he said.

Several audience members spoke up at a recent board meeting, praising Washburn’s skill as not only an administrator, but as a talented musician who knew the ins and outs of running the high school fine arts productions. Washburn Performing Arts Center at WHS is named after him.

Superintendent Teresa Baldwin said that eliminating his job would be a big loss.

“To lose Mr. Washburn at the high school would be devastating,” she said. “He does all of the behind-the-scenes work for the theater, and performs too. If we bring someone new to it, they will not have that skill set. This budget document is just a blueprint, so it is very open to suggestion.”

Board members unanimously agreed to remove the student services director position from potential budget cuts.

If the position had been eliminated, it would have meant moving the associate principal of Cape Horn-Skye Elementary and Canyon Creek Middle schools to the high school, leaving one administrator for approximately 682 students.

Baldwin said the potential scenario was done this way because an associate principal position had already been eliminated at Jemtegaard Middle School and Hathaway Elementary School. Gause Elementary does not have an associate principal.

The board cannot move forward with cuts yet, because it still does not know what the final budget will be for the next year. After a month-long special session, the state Legislature finally approved a spending plan, but individual districts will not have firm numbers for another few weeks, Baldwin said.

Cuts mandated by the state will include a 1.9 percent reduction for all school certified and classified staff, and 3 percent for administrative staff.

The board will discuss the potential budget cuts in more detail at its next regularly scheduled meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 14. The meeting will be held at the district administration building, 4855 Evergreen Way, Washougal.