The Olympia School District (OSD) had a meeting last Thursday, January 26, to discuss what actions can be taken to address the budget deficit, bringing community members to voice their worries, especially the affected sectors, such as the district’s staff that are projected to lose jobs.
Kate Walker, a spouse of an OSD educator, called for a need to support students and staff under OSD.
“I know there's a lot of hard decisions related to the district budget that you have ahead of you. As you consider the priorities, I hope that your considerations will have an overarching focus on investments that address equity for both students and employees in the District,” Walker said.
Angela Fisher, a teacher at Reeves Middle School, expressed unease about losing her current job because of budget issues.
“The school district is facing a $17 million deficit this year and I was notified by my union president that I should look for another job due to the deficit,” Fisher said. “For the past five years, I worked at Reeves Middle School as a substitute paraeducator, as a paraeducator, as a long-term substitute teacher, and finally as a classroom teacher.”
Superintendent Patrick Murphy addressed the commenters and remarked that the budget conversations are ‘going to be painful’.
“I appreciate the sentiment, and I do lose sleep all the time, about our budget situation or many other things,” Murphy said. And I really appreciate that sentiment that we're talking about people and not numbers.”
“We're looking at kind of a triple storm using extra dollars to do things that we thought was right, hired a lot of people and that money is going away,” Murphy added.
Murphy acknowledged that when the district is faced with the type of budgetary situation it is in, the public and the board will still have that conversation about people’s personal issues.
“We have to prioritize and when you're prioritizing people it becomes personal, but it also is informative, and it helps us to make these really tough decisions. I really hope that we can take feedback from the board tonight [as] we did from the public and make that survey a more usable tool for everyone,” Murphy added.
Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Priddy shared the prospect timeline, “The budget survey takes place over February with the results reported to the Board in March.”
According to Priddy, there are also different opportunities for input beyond the survey – Facebook live webinars, meetings at schools, meetings with PTA groups, in-person community forums, and regular OSD board meetings.
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