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South Whidbey School Board approves $15 million budget

LANGLEY – The South Whidbey School Board has approved the school district’s $15 million budget for the next school year.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the board voted unanimously to adopt the 2011-2012 spending plan. Board Chairman Rich Parker was absent on vacation, leaving Vice Chairwoman Leigh Anderson to run a meeting that adjourned in less than 90 minutes.

In the final budget presentation, Business Director Dan Poolman gave an estimated enrollment of almost 1,500 students for the coming year.

That number has the teachers’ union alarmed as the district laid-off teachers for the sixth consecutive year. Co-president Val Brown stated the union’s concerns to the board and new District Superintendent Jo Moccia and warned against a slow response to large class sizes like last year.

“Hopefully we can act quicker than we did last time,” Brown said, “because we were kind of handcuffed to start a solution six weeks out.”

Moccia agreed and empathized with Brown and the union’s concerns. The district cut six teachers this year before Moccia took over from outgoing Superintendent Fred McCarthy on July 1.

In her third week, Moccia said the district will adjust and adapt when school begins and the enrollment picture is clearer.

“I’m not going to make you a promise I can’t keep,” Moccia said. “I’ll do the best I can as quickly as I can to educate our kids as well as we can. I’ll need your help.”

The district’s proposed revenue of $15.1 million was a $418,000 drop from the previous year.

However, expenditures also went down $406,000 to about $15.2 million. Some program costs increased, such as regular instruction by $3,000 and vocational instruction by $14,000.

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