Madison Elementary School community wants school board to take pay cuts to fill in budget shortfall

First public hearing for school consolidations held at Madison; board says no schools will be closed yet


During a four-hour meeting last night, parents, students, teachers, and community members expressed sentiments against the closure of Olympia School District’s (OSD) Madison Elementary School.

Held at Madison Elementary School, individuals delivered their comments onsite and online at the public hearing. Language interpreters were also present for multilingual commenters.

Most commenters showed resistance to the closure scenarios, with some urging Superintendent Patrick Murphy to take a pay cut like other districts’ superintendents or resign.

“The district has experienced lower enrollment in the last few years and is operating on a budget deficit, and projects continued enrollment decline and budget shortfalls in the years ahead. The Board is considering possible school closure and consolidation as one way to address this budget shortfall,” OSD Board President Hilary Seidel said.

Seidel reiterated the three scenarios the board is considering from their December 17 meeting. The first scenario is that both Madison and McKenny elementary schools close, the second is only Madison closes, and the third is only McKenny closes.

“Each of these scenarios contemplates consolidating the schools with surrounding schools nearest to them. The board may also ultimately decide not to close any schools,” said Seidel.

Salary cuts and resignations

OSD4All also released its solutions report showing alternate solutions other than closing schools.
OSD4All also released its solutions report showing alternate solutions other than closing schools.

Some community members criticized the board and Murphy’s performance, urging them to either receive a pay cut or resign to supplement the budget decisions being made.

OSD4All’s newsletter referenced Washougal School District Superintendent Mary Templeton’s decision to take a pay cut because of her district’s $3 million budget deficit and its possible application to OSD if Murphy initiates it.

“If Superintendent Murphy takes a 30% pay cut, you got more than 10% of your deficit solved right there,” said Robert, a parent. “If you all senior management can take a pay cut, you can probably do it.”

“Have you not seen the solidarity that has been built around issues that you have caused? Darcy, Hilary, and Scott— what choice will you make? Patrick Murphy, on behalf of all students, resign,” appealed a student named Julian.

OSD4All also presented data from its solutions report showing how the salaries for OSD’s executive staff in 2023-2024 costed more than all of Madison and McKenny’s certificated school staff combined.

The report also outlined possible solutions to decrease expenses other than closing the school. The solutions are removing excess contingency from expense forecasts, backfilling 50% of attrition and optimizing existing staffing ratios, using right-size central support positions, rationalizing materials and operating costs, and ensuring special education program efficiency.

President’s comments

“The board has not decided to close Madison or any other school and it will not be making such a decision today. The board will not take any final action with regard to any proposed closure until at least April 25,” clarified Seidel.

Additional opportunities would be to share comments with the board regarding the proposed consolidation. Another hearing will be held at McKenny on Thursday, and a Community Cafe will be held on March 16 at the Olympia High School.

According to Seidel, the board plans to discuss proposed consolidations and closures at upcoming regular board meetings on March 14 and April 25.

April 25 is the earliest date the board may take final action regarding the proposed consolidations and closures.


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  • EmmettGrogan

    Headline implies the School Board has pay to cut.

    Tuesday, February 27 Report this

  • MartyKenney

    I’m still curious if there’s any talk about OSD offering one of these schools to Waldorf or Montessori program to run instead. Or how about a parent Co-op school? Seems like the parents are really invested, can they put their money (time/energy) where their mouths are?

    I’m also loving this idea of executive staff taking a pay cut! I want to see those numbers!

    Wednesday, February 28 Report this

  • jimlazar

    The headline does not match the story: it appears in the story that the citizens were asking the Superintendent to take a pay cut.

    The school board receives no salary, but is paid $50 per day in meetings, to a limit of $4,800 per year. [OSD website shows policies on compensation for the Board.]

    The Superintendent is paid $236k, about the same as the City Managers and the Port of Olympia and LOTT General Managers. That is not particularly high as school superintendents go; North Thurston is higher; Tumwater is lower. (Washington Citizens Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials).

    Once you get below the Superintendent, the OSD employees pretty much make "market" for people with their skills. Principals make $120k to $170k, less than City department directors make, with similar numbers of staff under their direction.

    When I served as a PUD Commissioner, we were paid $2,000 per month, which was pretty juicy compared with other part-time elected officials like Port Commissioner, City Council, or (worse of all), School Board.

    The decision that the Olympia School Board faces is a very difficult one. The last school I remember closing was John Rogers Elementary, on 26th NE closed in 2001 (although it then housed the Olympia Regional Learning Academy until ORLA got a new facility on Boulevard Road in 2015).

    I don't envy their position. At least they had the common sense to realize that they didn't need a site for a new high school on Yelm Highway (if there are not very many elementary students now, it's likely there won't be a bulge of high school students six years from now!), and the Yelm Highway property can now be developed for the original purpose for which the land was acquired five soccer fields and other recreational uses. I would be really peeved if they were BOTH closing schools AND holding onto a piece of property at the extreme edge of the District.

    I was thinking that the original idea in the press, to close Boston Harbor School, made the most sense, because nearly all of those students are already being bussed to school. But that would have meant bussing them all the way to Madison or to McKenny, a long way from home.

    No easy answers here.

    Wednesday, February 28 Report this

  • olyoriginal22

    Mr. Lazar, with all due respect- I remember you jumping into a frigid lake for swims, and I appreciate your partner's public service to the Olympia community. I am an Olympia Original. As such, I am irritated by the relative apathy of our community regarding these school closures.

    I appreciate you pointing out that out-sourced journalism appears to be back-firing on JOLT. I sat through the entire hearing, in person, and found that one individual incorrectly suggested that board members are paid. He actually used to reside on waterfront of the same lake you'd swim in! It was a long, long hearing. But to make that false statement the headline? That's poor journalism.

    Fact Check: You report that Superintendent Murphy is earning $236,000/year.


    According to OSPI data, Mr. Murphy is making approximately $267,000/year, and with benefits, the total is $320,000/year. Source: => Excel Files => Washington State School Personnel - School Year 2023-2024

    The next 26 highest paid positions in the central office (NOT principals) cost the district a total of over $4.8M. Same source as above. Many of these are essential positions, but not all of the positions are essential. Many have been created since Superintendent Murphy took office.

    Regarding the difficult decision the board faces with school closure? I'd like you to name one board member from way back when John Rogers closed who could tell you with a straight face, that this is a comparable situation.

    I feel like closing any school is going to increase the carbon footprint of the district. Especially, like, the walkable and bikeable ones. Leave Boston Harbor out of it, because that's 6 in 1, half-dozen in the other as far as bus usage goes. It would only increase bus ride times for students which correlates to lower test scores.

    This school closure proposal is a detriment to our children, community, and our environment. Mad respect to you, Mr Lazar. But please, check before you post.

    Wednesday, February 28 Report this

  • MariaRuth

    Yes, the headline missed the point and the very loud, clear, and consistent messages from current students, parents, past students, teachers, staff, volunteers, neighbors, pastor of the nearby church, pediatric psychiatrists, neighborhood association reps, real-estate agents, and volunteer Reading Buddies: Madison Elementary School creates community and anchors our community.

    Madison is a small (~200-student school) is a community school and a place of stability for students. Under the compassionate guidance of its principal, staff, and teachers, it has created a community of respect and caring within its walls and beyond. I volunteered as a Reading Buddy for three years at Madison and know first-hand that this is true.

    This downtown OLY school--which just won BEST SCHOOL IN SOUTH SOUND--offers a safe and supportive place for many of our community's under-served students. Student after student spoke about their sense of belonging, being accepted, respected, and encouraged. Teachers and staff know all the students by name. It is walkable, bikable, surrounded by wide sidewalks, and served by Intercity Transit #60. Parents and students expressed the importance of being able to walk to their school and not be bussed elsewhere. Madison students have partnered with students at next-door Avanti H.S. in their shared and thriving garden. Madison is across from the future Armory Creative Campus--think of the possibilities for partnerships there!

    None of the genuine caring and compassion that characterized the public comments on Tuesday night (and during previous months of meetings between parents and OSD) could ever be captured in the reports of OSD's hired consultants--FLO Analytics and Western Demographics. Closing school is a numbers game. The precious students and the community's shared values don't seem to matter here. Shame on OSD superintendent and most of the school board for not listening or seeing the bigger picture here. I'd recommend reading the report of OSD4ALL--a non-partisan, apolitical group--to learn more about the flawed analysis and to learn why Madison and McKenny Elementary Schools should remain open (

    OSD should put a pause on their decision to close these two elementary schools and consider the many solutions that have been brought before them by the school and community.

    Wednesday, February 28 Report this

  • JnNwmn

    Many sincere comments from people, thank you. The group or groups that have plenty of data about the school closures and the reasons why closures do not make "cents", need to get the word out more then ever. I know they are volunteers, but they should go to every civic group in the OSD to talk the talk. One more point and this will generate some opposition: Many states do not fund their schools on just property tax and cutting trees down. Some states have income taxes that help their citizens. All the state has to do is ask for a per cent of the filed IRS yearly tax form. The state does not need another bureaucracy. And remember, most Seniors do not work and do not pay income tax anyway. But they do vote!

    Thursday, February 29 Report this