Yakima School District Avoids Layoffs, Other Districts Not So Lucky - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Yakima School District Avoids Layoffs, Other Districts Not So Lucky

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YAKIMA, Wash.- Yakima is the largest school district in the valley, employing more than 900 people. It's the only district keeping all its employees.

"We have avoided layoffs," said Yakima Superintendent Ben Soria.

The district will make almost $8 million in budget cuts. In an effort to keep faculty employed, the district is reducing staff development courses for teachers and cutting down on supplies. They're also using about half their reserve fund or three million dollars. Their biggest priority is retaining teachers.

"Progress is just astronomical, mostly because of the people we've recruited and their work," said Superintendent Soria.

Soria expects about 40 employees to retire. These positions won't be filled, saving money and jobs.

Not every district is so lucky. In Toppenish, district employees have already sent letters out to about 20 employees letting them know they're getting laid off because of the budget.

Toppenish Superintendent Steve Myers says with a $1.4 million cut and a large deficit, laying off teachers just has to happen.

"Spend 80 percent of the budget on teachers so we really have no other choice," said Toppenish Superintendent Steve Myers.

Now classrooms in Toppenish will get more crowded.

Especially in an elementary school, when you add 2 or 3 more students than usual it makes a big difference," said Superintendent Myers.

Which is why the Toppenish District is using some of their budget to continue staff development and have more teacher training. Myers says they're hoping to hire back some of the employees in August.

"They may not have the same position, but they'll be working for us," said Superintendent Myers.

The Superintendent says the budget will be finalized this week, but he doesn't rule out additional layoffs before the next school year starts.