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Kelso School District

Amidst a nearly $4 million budget shortfall, the Kelso School District is considering keeping a full-time position in its social emotional learning department despite previous plans save $64,000 by making the job part-time.

School board members asked to keep the position intact after school staff, parents and community members weighed in on the proposed budget cuts through a survey last month, said Scott Westlund, district finance director. Almost 49 survey participants requested the district keep that position full-time — the most support shown for any single item on the original reduction list.

The school board will vote on changing the district’s budget reduction plan to keep the position full-time at a Monday night meeting. Should the board approve the switch, district officials will need to find another way to cut about $64,000 to meet its $4 million savings goal, said Superintendent Mary Beth Tack.

The district needs to cut 5.7 percent of its $70 million operating budget in 2019-20 to make up for reduced local revenue caused by a local levy cap.

In addition to the SEL position, the district will also need to make up for $35,000 of lost savings by keeping a drug and alcohol counseling position as an operating budget line item, said Scott Westlund, district finance director.

“The position was never in jeopardy, it was just a funding change from one account to the other,” Westlund said. But the district will be unable to cover the position with the “categorical” account, which provides money for specific district programs.

Also Monday the school board will:

  • Vote to approve the purchase of a $320,000 piece of property near Butler Acres Elementary School. The property, 1617 Burcham Street, will be used to expand parking and improve traffic flow around the school.
  • Vote to approve changes the student handbook, including updated definitions for full-time and part-time students.
  • Hear proposed updates for district policies on enrollment, bid requirements, risk management, driver training, and superintendent purchasing authorization.

The meeting starts at 6 p.m in the district office on Crawford Street.

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