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Kelso school officials will present a list of proposed cuts aimed at closing a $4 million gap in next year’s budget during a public hearing at Monday’s school board meeting.

The details of the proposal were not immediately available last week. However, previous discussion suggests around two dozen full-time staff positions could be cut to help balance the district’s $70 million operating budget.

Director of Finance Scott Westlund said the district wants to limit staffing reductions to resignations and retirements, rather than laying off workers.

“We’ve been spending some time over the last month diving into staffing,” Westlund told The Daily News earlier this month. “We’ve been gathering quite a few retirements, resignations and non-renewals (of contracts) for next year. … Hopefully we will get there.”

During the public hearing on Monday, community members can share their initial response to the budget cuts with the school board, Westlund said. The district is also launching an online survey and hosting two discussion sessions.

“We want to make sure folks have a chance to respond (to the proposal),” Westlund said.

The district is required to meet certain budget planning deadlines set by the state, including notifying staff of any potential layoffs by mid-May. However, no budget reductions will be approved until the board officially adopts the 2019-20 budget in August.

Kelso must cut about $4 million to make up for reduced local income caused by a local levy cap, Westlund said.

The levy cap was part of the state Legislature’s new funding model that was intended to fully fund K-12 education. The cap was supposed to shift the financial burden off local school districts, but many districts will actually receive less money overall under the new system, Westlund said.

The board meeting and public hearing begins at 6 p.m. in the Kelso High School library.

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