Waitsburg schools make staffing cuts

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Facing decreased enrollment, the Waitsburg School District is making significant employment reductions for the 2012/13 school year.

According to Superintendent Carol Clarke, two high school teaching positions and one elementary school position have been eliminated, along with one custodial position. The special education staff has also been reduced by half a day. The cuts were approved by the school board in late July.

Clarke said the Waitsburg district is forecasting an average enrollment of 275 students for the upcoming school year, compared to the 305 average recorded for 2011/2012. The district ended the year with 299 students.

A number of families have informed the school that they are moving out of the district, Clarke said. In addition, the incoming kindergarten class will be considerably smaller than the class of seniors that graduated last year.

“With the down economy, jobs are scarce here in Waitsburg,” Clarke said. “And many parents don’t want to commute to Walla Walla, so they move.”

A high school business education teacher and a high school electives teacher have been let go, along with one elementary teacher. In addition, a retiring custodian will not be replaced.

“We feel we’re being very conservative in our enrollment forecast,” Clarke said. “Our budget is driven by enrollment, so of course we hope the numbers will be higher when school starts.”

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