Listen Live
Listen Live

On Air Now

Brushwood Media Network
Brushwood Media Network

On Air Next

Brushwood Media Network
Brushwood Media Network

Moses Lake School District reduces 85 more positions, totaling 215 personnel


(The Center Square) – Moses Lake School District announced Wednesday that it plans to reduce 85 classified positions after already issuing more than 100 nonrenewal notices earlier this month.

The fiasco started with the district’s failed Maintenance and Operations Levy, which led to a deeper dive into MLSD’s accounting from the North Central Education Services District. A further review noted the anticipated budget reduction would be $20 million instead of $4 million.

The loss of levy revenue accounts for the $4 million; however, MLSD also missed out on around $8 million in state funding. On top of that, an accounting error led district officials to believe it still had $13 million on hand while it actually had around $2 million.

In an email to The Center Square, Claren McLaughlin, MLSD’s communications and public information officer, said this round of reductions will save the district approximately $4 million on top of the roughly $13 million saved through the initial round.

Classified staff includes assistant teachers, custodial staff, food service staff, maintenance personnel, paraeducators, migrant and multilingual support staff, secretaries, technology support staff, therapy assistants, transportation personnel and warehouse personnel.

McLaughlin confirmed in the email that the district has chosen to reduce a total of 215 positions so far. However, she was unable to comment on whether MLSD would rehire any of the personnel in the future.

Wednesday’s decision came only a day before the School Board’s anticipated vote to use an inter-fund loan to make its $11 million payroll for May.

After the initial reductions, the district also placed Superintendent Monty Sabin on administrative leave. While hired in 2022, Sabin’s contract was extended in 2023 until August 2026. If the district lets him go without cause, it’s obligated to pay him the remaining balance of his salary or wages equivalent to 18 months of pay, according to reporting from The Columbia Basin Herald.

“We value the contributions of our classified staff and recognize the impact this will have on their lives, and our schools and students,” said acting Superintendent Carol Lewis in a news release. “Unfortunately, these steps are essential to ensure the financial sustainability of our organization.”

This round of reductions will affect several departments. According to a news release, 34 out of the 85 positions are being reduced through attrition, which means that the employees, whether leaving voluntarily or involuntarily, are not being replaced. This count could also include several vacant positions the district chose not to fill.

Staffing accounts for approximately 80% of MLSD’s budget. Previously, Trisha Schock, NCESD executive director of administrative services, told the School Board that it risks pulling the district into bankruptcy if nonrenewal notices were not issued by the May deadlines.

The 85 cuts to classified staff represent a 13% budgetary reduction for the employee group. In addition to these and the last round of reductions, MLSD also eliminated 6.5 district-level positions, which accounts for a 15.5% budgetary reduction at the district level, according to the release.

MLSD will continue working with NCESD to review the district’s budget and determine whether it can make other cuts to mitigate additional layoffs. However, McLaughlin confirmed in the email that the district does expect additional personnel reductions.

According to a prior Summary of Recommended Reductions, MLSD still has several other options for reducing costs; however, the savings are likely far less attractive given that staffing takes up so much of the budget.

Additional reductions could include but are not limited to, extracurricular activities, technology upgrades, maintenance/custodial services, facility usage and career and college readiness programs.

“While this is a challenging time, our focus is on stabilizing our financial position and continuing to deliver high-quality services for students,” Lewis said in the release.