Hundreds to be laid off in Salem-Keizer School District: Superintendent
SALEM Ore. (KPTV) - The Superintendent of the Salem-Keizer School District has only been on the job a few months but is already delivering some tough news to employees.
Superintendent Andrea Castañeda delivered a stark message regarding the district’s future during a recent board meeting saying hundreds of staff members could face job layoffs due to a substantial budget deficit.
Currently, the district is grappling with a $73 million deficit, reflecting the disparity between its revenue and expenditure. Castañeda attributes the decline in federal funding to the conclusion of COVID-relief funds, contributing to the financial strain on the district.
To mitigate the impact, the district has already implemented adjustments, including reduced spending on supplies and salaries. Several positions have also been subjected to a hiring freeze as part of the cost-cutting measures.
During Tuesday’s board meeting, Superintendent Castañeda, who assumed her role a few months ago, candidly addressed the looming challenges for the district. She emphasized that the outcome of the upcoming bargaining sessions with the teachers’ union would significantly influence the budget for the 2024-2025 school year.
“When I first arrived, I said the bargaining outcome is the single largest driver and the single largest unknowable variable, and that remains. Nonetheless, we’ll continue progressing in all the ways we can and should to address the gap because we don’t have to wait for the end of bargaining to know that we have a sizable challenge to resolve,” said Castañeda.
Personnel costs constitute almost 87% of the district’s operating budget, making negotiations with the teachers’ union on salaries a critical factor in shaping next year’s budget. Currently, the district projects next year’s budget based on the 3.5 to 4% wage increase it is offering to some staff members.
The uncertain financial landscape poses significant challenges for the Salem-Keizer School District, and the superintendent’s straightforward assessment underscores the difficult decisions ahead in ensuring the district’s fiscal sustainability.
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