Update: Budget reductions and layoffs

5/15/2019 | TACOMA, Washington

We have gone through an extensive budget review process with input from staff, parents, students, and community. By carefully tracking and accounting for retirements, resignations, and vacancies, we have minimized the number of reduction in force and layoff notifications. Additionally, the legislature's action to increase the amount districts can collect through local levies has helped to reduce the number of position eliminations, layoffs, and other budget reductions. Starting in January 2020, Tacoma Public Schools will be able to collect the full amount of local levy funding voters approved in February 2018.

Unfortunately, we are notifying 31 employees that their employment with our district will end in August 2019. We have worked closely with our union partners and followed all the requirements of our collective bargaining agreements. It is with tremendous sadness that any employee receives a reduction in force or layoff notification, and we ask for sensitivity and understanding as these changes are carried out.

Reductions in force and layoff notifications given

  • Nine administrators and central support staff are receiving a layoff notification this week. This is in addition to the 43 administrators and central support positions eliminated earlier this school year.
  • Nine certificated employees received a reduction in force notification this week, which is 0.4 percent of our certificated staff. This group includes a variety of roles and responsibilities that require certification.
  • 13 non-certificated school-based staff are receiving a layoff notification this week.

Guiding principles lead decision making

The Board of Directors provided guiding principles, which direct our decision making. We have used our best efforts to prioritize budget reductions and position eliminations with the least impact on students and classrooms. The budget decision-making process has been thoughtful and detailed, with every choice scrutinized and evaluated to understand the impact on students, staff, schools, and programs. We have more work to do to balance our 2019-2020 school year budget and will communicate further decisions and any additional reductions.

Building a staffing model to fit funding for the long term

To balance the 2019-2020 school year budget and reduce the number of layoffs, we plan to use an estimated $13 million in one-time funding, which includes district reserve funds and one-time funds from the legislature. This means we expect to face another round of budget reductions in the 2020-2021 school year. After that, we anticipate reaching a sustainable, long-term budget.

Approximately eighty-five percent of our district's budget is employee salaries and compensation. As we work to balance our 2019-2020 school year budget, we must think about the long-term impacts. We cannot rely too heavily on one-time funding.

Wrestling with the effects of position eliminations and the loss of many of our colleagues over the last year has been difficult. Through it all, we have maintained our focus on the best interests of students. We will continue to do so as we work toward the School Board's adoption of the district's final 2019-2020 school year budget in August.