A $27.5 million budget for Sequim schools doesn’t look much different than last year’s spending and revenue plan, but students and staff alike will see some changes this September.
Included in the plan is funding for a school resource officer, nurse, athletic trainer and, in preparation for all-day kindergarten that may or may not be funded in the fall of 2015, two more portable buildings.
Sequim’s school board of directors unanimously approved the budget on Aug. 20.
The budget is an increase from last school year’s $27.1 million plan by about $410,000.
The new budget sees a slight increase in the percentage of district dollars spent on teaching — from 59 percent to 61 percent — and slightly less in administrative costs and teaching support.
The district is planning for the equivalent of 2,682 full-time students, down from last year’s 2,699 students, although numbers are expected to increase in the earlier grades, said district business manager Brian Lewis.
“We plan on fairly stable enrollment,” Lewis said.
That overall enrollment number will see a significant bump, Lewis said, if Washington state legislators decide to fund all-day kindergarten. That would double the number of kindergarten students; Sequim schools offers half-day kindergarten.
The district continues to collect $5.78 million each calendar year through a local tax levy, though two items — issued in 1996 to build Sequim Middle School and refurbish Sequim High, and a one-year levy to purchase new buses — come off the tax rolls this year. Local taxpayers pay about $1.61 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.
Higher costs loom for Washington public schools. If voters approve Initiative 1351, school districts will be required to adhere to class size limitations. Sequim schools superintendent Kelly Shea said the entirety of implications from that initiative are unclear, though it likely would mean having to add more classrooms.
“This initiative could have a significant impact on the Sequim School District if we have to reduce (class sizes),” Shea said.
“Our issue is space,” he said, noting that if the law requires a one teacher-to-17 students ratio and the school doesn’t have any more classrooms, the district would have to consider placing two teachers in a classroom with 34 students. “We can’t put 34 kids in one of our classrooms,” Shea said.
The board received more public comments regarding a transgender policy the school board passed at its Aug. 4 meeting. The policy further strengthens the district’s nondiscrimination stance toward students who identify as transgender.
Community members expressed concern that the policy could infringe on other students’ rights of privacy if, for example, transgender students were allowed to use certain restrooms or locker rooms.
Shea, who as superintendent develops procedures based on school policies, said he is further researching the issue.
“I’m contemplating what is the best way to meet this policy (and) how much involvement I want from the community,” Shea said.
Sequim schools are reaching out to local preschools to help youngsters better make a transition into kindergarten, Shea said last week, utilizing the state’s Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills program.
“Hopefully, partnering with early childhood education groups will help fill in those gaps,” Shea said.
District officials will do an informal assessment this year and revisit the program in October.
HiCap gets full-time leader
With Washington state requiring school districts to provide Highly Capable programs from kindergarten through 12th grade, Sequim schools are making their HiCap director, Margaret Whitley, a full-time employee, up from half-time in 2013-2014.
Five staffers are being added to the district thanks to grants from AmeriCorps. Three AmeriCorps staffers will work at Greywolf Elementary School and another two at Helen Haller Elementary (see sidebar).
Other board action
On Aug. 20, the Sequim school board of directors also voted to:
• accept a tentative letter of agreement with district collective bargaining groups;
• accept a letter of resignation from Jennifer Horton, junior varsity cheer coach;
• offer a certificated contract to Olympic Peninsula Academy teacher Timothy Wilkinson (grades 5-8), and
• accept a request for a 12-week leave of absence for Greywolf Elementary School teacher Jennifer Lopez.
Sequim schools see changes to staffing
Students and staff in Sequim schools are seeing as many as 30 new faces — or faces in different places — as most classes are set to open Sept 3.
The following list are new staffers, returning staffers from time away or staff that has shifted from one district building to another.
• Paul Brinkman (mathematics, Sequim High School)
• Stacy Campbell (second grade, Greywolf Elementary School)
• Patrick Caron (fourth grade, Helen Haller Elementary School)
• Susan Caron (fourth grade, Helen Haller Elementary School)
• Susan Dufner (second grade, Helen Haller Elementary School)
• Bettina Hoesel (first grade, Helen Haller Elementary School)
• Elisha Howard (first grade, Helen Haller Elementary School)
• Kaylee Kinsey (second grade, Helen Haller Elementary School)
• Sheri Kruckeberg (librarian, Helen Haller Elementary School)
• Jennifer Krumpe (special education, Sequim High School)
• Clarke Mason (special education, Sequim Middle School)
• Renee Mullikin (second grade, Helen Haller Elementary School)
• Gary Neal (assistant superintendent)
• Greg Newton (special education, Greywolf Elementary School)
• Tammy Owens (second grade, Greywolf Elementary School)
• Vanessa Rayburn (kindergarten, Helen Haller Elementary School)
• Bridget Shingleton (physical education, Sequim High School)
• David Updike (psychologist, Sequim High School)
• Derek VanderVelde (special education, Sequim High School)
• Melee VanderVelde (counselor, Sequim High School)
• Timothy Wilkinson (teacher, Olympic Peninsula Academy)
• Amy Young (speech and language pathologist, Helen Haller Elementary School)
• Sonja Younger (English Language Learning, Sequim School District office)
•Terralyn Dokken (secretary, Olympic Peninsula Academy)
• Kayana Harrison (secretary, Alternative High School)
• Heather McCarter (dispatcher, transportation department)
• John O’Rourke (mail, transportation department)
• Maria Roragen (student records, Sequim School District office)
• Andrea Sturm (secretary, Sequim High School)
• Kerry Wyman-Webb (registered nurse, Sequim School District)
Holly Ambro, Heather Conway, Valerie Foster, Jordan Goodman and Tabetha Hein.