San Juan schools now $125K short of closing budget gap

Recent gifts through the "Save Our Schools" Campaign have pushed the matching funds total to $175,000 toward matching a $300,000 "Challenge Gift" to mitigate anticipated program reductions.

Recent pledges of $10,000 each by Roche Harbor Resort, and Rich and Joan Komen helped the campaign go over the halfway mark toward matching the challenge gift.

Superintendent Michael Soltman said in a press release, “With matching funds, $350,000 has been raised to restore program cuts related to a $600,000 budget shortfall. We are now able to restore classroom teaching positions, the Primary Intervention Program, part of the athletic program, and some essential secretarial, custodial and student support services.

"However, another $125,000 must be raised to fully restore our programs and services for the 2008-09 school year."

At a school board meeting Wednesday night, about half of the athletic program was restored. However, still unfunded are Boys Tennis, Volleyball, Wrestling, Golf, Boys Soccer, and Track.

The board also identified staffing cuts in secretarial, custodial and learning support positions in the amount of $95,000. Soltman said, "$125,000 will restore these remaining cuts, $23,000 of which would fully restore the athletic program."

Paul LeBaron, president of the San Juan Public Schools Foundation, noted that every dollar raised now is matched by the "Challenge Gift." He urges community members wishing to make a contribution to call the Schools Foundation "SOS Hotline" at 370-7925, or to use the "donate now" secure link on the foundation Web site,

The school district is collaborating with members of the schools foundation and the San Juan Island Community Foundation to develop a community task force to determine funding needs over the next 4-5 years, and to begin to identify a long-term school funding solution.

A special board meeting is scheduled for June 6, 10:30 a.m., to hear presentations from legislative liaisons on current initiatives in the Legislature regarding basic education funding. Representatives from the Washington Association of School Administrators and the Washington State School Directors Association will be presenting.

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