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Community meetings to address 2009-10 district budget

The community is invited to review and comment on the school district’s draft 2009-10 spending plan, which reflects the reduction of staff positions, the elimination and/or modification of some existing programs, the reallocation of staff resources, and support service reductions to achieve a balanced budget.


Deputy Superintendent Debra Aungst will present the district’s draft budget and invite feedback at four community meetings. Any changes to the schedule below will be posted on the school district Web site at


  • April 13, 10 a.m. to noon; Education Service Center, 302 Second St. S.E.
  • April 15, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Pope Elementary, 15102 122nd Ave. E.
  • April 20, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Ferrucci Junior High, 3213 Wildwood Park Drive
  • April 23, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Woodland Elementary, 7707 112th St. E.



Comments made during the meetings will be considered as Superintendent Tony Apostle prepares his recommended budget. Apostle is expected to present his recommended budget to the school board and public by early June.


By then, Aungst said, the state Legislature should have ended its session, and the district will have a more firm idea of how much state revenue it will receive next year.

Increased state expenses coupled with decreased revenue have created a grim budget outlook for all of Washington’s school districts, which rely heavily on state funding. Nearly three-quarters of the Puyallup School District budget is funded by the state.


“We’re not alone,” Aungst said. “All school districts are struggling. Luckily we have a solid history of sound financial management.”


The state’s projected deficit for the 2009-2011 biennium climbed last month to more than $8.3 billion, and the number could continue to grow given the unstable state and national economic climate.


These financial woes, coupled with an anticipated enrollment decline of 150 students next year, equates to a projected $10 to $14 million shortfall in the Puyallup School District.


The district has known for months of the state’s worsening revenue forecast and began early studying its options to reduce spending.


In November, for example, Aungst formed study groups comprised of staff members from several departments to review programs and services and develop potential cost-saving strategies.


“We are working really hard to protect our core instructional programs,” Aungst said. “The areas we are examining first include support services such as custodial and maintenance, administration, transportation, library services, and teacher training. We are working on these areas to minimize potential impacts to class size.”


With the magnitude of the shortfall, she said, “reductions will be felt in virtually every area of the district.”


“We are planning for the worst and hoping for the best,” Aungst said. “We have to be prepared if we are going to be good stewards of the public resources.”


At the same time that educators are wrestling with how to balance the 2009-10 budget, reductions are already under way to maintain a balanced budget this school year. As the state revenue stream has been declining, less money than expected is being given this year out to agencies, including K-12 schools.


Cost-saving measures implemented in recent months include controls on discretionary, non-essential in-state and out-of-state travel; major equipment and supply purchases; a reduction of paper consumption to save on print costs; and the elimination of the annual spring job recruitment fair and the costs associated with staging that event. Additionally, as employees leave their jobs, some positions are not being filled.

Apostle assures that the school district will weather the financial storm. “We will continue to make dedicated, incremental forward progress in our student achievement efforts,” he said. “We are going to focus our collective energy on putting aside any and all barriers and do whatever it takes to maintain the high-quality performing arts programs, our strong academic reputation, and our highly popular co-curricular programs in this school district that are the envy of many districts in the state of Washington.”

The first public hearing on the recommended budget is scheduled for June 8. A second public hearing and final adoption is scheduled for August 10.

See more information about the 2009-10 budget.