Clarkston School District cuts budget for Title 1 Instructional Assistants

CLARKSTON, WA - The Clarkston School Board heard concerned voices at a meeting Monday night from community members and teachers.

"Bottom line it comes down to funding and education," said former Title 1 Instructional Assistant Abby Brood.

A large and passionate audience let their voice be heard Monday at the Clarkston School Board Meeting regarding Title 1 funding cuts. The decrease in federal funding for Title I programs have left some people without jobs as recently as last week.

Former Title 1 Instructional Assistant Abby Brood said she received word about her job loss over a voice-mail.

"Highland's Principal telling me that our Title I budget was over by 12.5 hours and they were going to have to cut positions," said Brood.

Brood's responsibility included specialized learning for students behind the learning curve in reading and math. She said her job is important to the future of her students but she understands where the school board is coming from.

"The funding is just not there," said Brood. "It's not currently there the way things are set up."

Brood said Monday's meeting went well because she felt the community and the teachers' voices were heard.

"We've seen the numbers," said Brood. "They've laid it out for us, but we're still going to show we care about these students and we're listening and we appreciate them listening to us."

President of the Clarkston Education Association Christy Simons feels differently than Brood. She said there is district funding that could be used to replace the federal funding cuts.

"There are funds," said Simons. "We have reserve funds and the funds that they have, they've been spending a lot of money on central office staff which is far away from the children."

Without any funds Title 1 assistants are seeing cuts to their hours indefinitely. Superintendent Darcy Weisner said he recognizes that people are upset.

"I understand that someone has to make a decision and I understand that people are frustrated," said Weisner.

He said, ultimately, cuts will have to come from somewhere.

"We're not getting as much this year as we have in previous years," said Weisner. "Thus we have to come in with a different set of priorities related to personnel and the services we provide."

Weisner points out that Monday night's comments and concerns will be taken into consideration when finalizing the budget.

"Now we don't have those federal dollars," said Weisner. "We don't have the carry-over from those federal dollars so we have to make decisions to come in with a balanced budget."

Weisner said right now they only have a projected number of students enrolled for the Fall, but once school starts they'll get an exact figure. At that time, they'll have a better idea for how many hours Title 1 instructional assistants will be working.