Mercer Island School District faces budget deficit of $500,000

Now that the Washington state Legislature has adjourned and finalized the state budget, the Mercer Island School District, along with districts around the state, can begin answering questions it has held since last fall.

The biggest was just how much money the district would lose in state funding for the upcoming year. The answer for Mercer Island this year: $500,000. The district, which was preparing for cuts ranging anywhere from $750,000 to $1.5 million, was relieved to see a smaller than expected number.

"This much more favorable number can be attributed to both the final legislative budget and the February 2010 levies approved by our community," said the district on its Web site.

During tonight's School Board meeting, the board (beginning at 7 p.m.) will hear the expenditure reduction plan, provided by the district's administration, on where cuts will be made. Currently, the district expects to cut six full-time equivalent positions (FTE), which the district has said costs approximately $85,000 per teacher, including benefits and payroll taxes. The district's breakdown would remove 2.5 FTE positions from the elementary schools, 1.5 FTE from the middle school and 2 FTE from the high school to make up the $500,000.

However, with the Mercer Island School Foundation breakfast on April 27 and the PTA Council's Bridge the Gap campaign recently getting underway, the district hopes to fill in the deficit.

"Additional funds in excess of the $500,000 would be used to add more teachers and help begin to restore class-size averages to 2006-07, pre-recession levels," said the district's press release.

More information on the district's budget plan will be available in next week's Reporter.

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