Superintendent Israel Vela announced Jan. 26 that 22 positions will be cut July 1 from the Kent School District’s central administrative office. COURTESY PHOTO, Kent School District

Superintendent Israel Vela announced Jan. 26 that 22 positions will be cut July 1 from the Kent School District’s central administrative office. COURTESY PHOTO, Kent School District

Kent School District to cut 22 positions in central administration office

Superintendent Vela makes cuts; says more reductions ahead as district battles $31 million deficit

Just two days after Superintendent Israel Vela received approval from the Kent School Board to look at a plan for cuts in the central administration office, Vela announced 22 employees will be let go July 1.

“The Board of Directors has determined that a fiscal necessity exists that will not allow the district to maintain its educational program and services at substantially the same level and has adopted a reduced educational program that includes reducing central office, non-represented administrative positions,” Vela said in a statement released Friday evening, Jan. 26. “These difficult decisions are necessary to keep the district’s commitment to long-term financial stability.”

District staff told the board at its Jan. 24 meeting that the district faces a budget deficit of at least $31.5 million for the 2024-2025 school year.

That loss is due to the end of federal monies coming to the district from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding provided during the COVID-19 pandemic from Congress to school districts across the nation.

Kent received about $99 million in federal funds and included that money in budgets over the last three years, including $31.5 million in the 2023-2024 budget, which is the last year the funds could be used under federal guidelines.

Besides losing federal funds, Vela blamed the financial challenges “due to declining birthrates and enrollment, along with rising inflation costs.”

Vela didn’t release any details about how much money eliminating 22 positions will save the district. He also didn’t list which jobs will be cut or what staff changes will be made to cover the lost positions.

“There were 22 leadership positions impacted by the educational program reduction at the central administration office,” Vela said. “The reorganization of central office non-represented administrative staff will be effective July 1, 2024.”

There are about 75 positions in the central administrative office, according to a leadership chart on the school district website from July 1, 2023.

Vela said more job cuts are ahead in the district. But had no specifics at this time.

“As we move through the budget development process, I will continue implementing the next steps in our multi-year stairstep approach to address these financial challenges,” Vela said. “This will necessitate the need to make additional reductions to the educational program.

“We will continue to engage with our labor partners as we work through these difficult challenges together. I am committed to transparency and keeping you informed throughout the process.”

A two-year district contract with teachers expires in August.

Vela released a statement in late December 2023 that budget cuts were ahead for the 2024-2025 school year.

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