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Schools bring back most aides

After a long winter of economic woes, Sequim's schools got a bit of good news last week.

Sequim's board of directors approved rehiring 18 teacher aides, recouping all but six of the para-educator positions district officials cut in May.

Dubbed reductions-in-force, the staff cuts were in preparation for a $1.3 million budget shortfall.

The rehires were helped by a boost in funding from a federal stimulus package (see below).

Para-educators fill a number of roles throughout the district, from special education helpers and office staffers to reading specialists.

Last year, the district employed the equivalent of about 90 full-time classified workers.

On July 23, the board voted to bring back three-quarters of the positions they intended to cut, offering the jobs first to the employees who held the jobs last year.



Shrinking budget

The Washington state 2009-2010 biennial budget eliminated all I-728 (student achievement) funds that help pay for such positions and other classroom projects - a drop of about $1.3 million from Sequim's annual revenue stream.

And though the district did receive $817,000 in federal stimulus dollars, Sequim schools receive less funds from state sources in a number of categories, from basic education ($155,000) to special education ($72,000) and professional development for math and science teachers ($60,000).

Since the district may not see the return of Initiative 728 funds in the next state budget, said Brian Lewis, Sequim School District business manager, the district is using the remaining I-728 funds: $220,000 this year and $220,000 next year.

The board of directors still needs to approve the 2009-2010 operating budget. The state requires districts to pass budgets by the end of August.



Reach Michael Dashiell at miked@sequimgazette.com.

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