Woodland schools to cut $3 million out of budget if levy fails


If the replacement levy for Woodland Public Schools is not approved by voters in April the district stated dozens of positions would be cut and a wide range of programs would be reduced or outright eliminated.

On March 13, the district announced its board of directors identified $3 million in budget cuts for the 2023-24 school year if the levy fails.

The board spent more than three hours scrutinizing the district’s programs during a workshop on March 9, the release stated.

“The school district has a long tradition of maintaining fiscal responsibility with any levy funds we request from the community,” Superintendent Michael Green told the board. “There is no cut on the list that won’t substantially hurt student education in our community.”

If the cuts are enacted, it would be because the current educational programs and operations levy is set to expire at the end of this year. 

WPS ran a replacement levy in the February special election. That measure failed with only 43.8% in favor.

The district is running a levy replacement again in April. If approved, the rate is expected to be $1.91 per $1,000 of assessed value on properties in the district. That rate is lower than the current levy’s $2.10 per $1,000 of assessed value.

If the April levy fails, expansions of the district’s dual language and speech language pathology programs will be halted, the release stated. The district would also no longer offer summer school for its K-8 students, which would require students to repeat classes or whole grades to recover the lost credits.

The cuts would eliminate the district’s Jump Start kindergarten program which started last year, the release stated. The district would also have to raise fees for its before and after school child care program, which is subsidized by the levy.

The cuts would result in a pause in the replacement or updates to school curriculum, the release stated. The district will also halt any new technology purchases and would eliminate one-to-one Chromebooks for elementary school students.

Food service staff would be reduced and district-level secretarial staff, school-based classified staff, elementary school deans of students, the assistant superintendent position, an on-site translator and secondary-level teaching coaches would be eliminated under the proposed cuts.

The cuts would also reduce maintenance and custodial staff, the release stated. Classroom cleaning would occur on a weekly basis at most, which would put some custodial duties on teachers and other staff.

Planned school security improvements, the replacement of Woodland Middle School’s roof and improvements to Fifth Street in front of the school will be halted, according to the release.

Without the levy, WPS plans to cut high school sports that aren’t at the varsity or junior varsity level, the release stated. The district would also no longer provide transportation for athletics and will reduce the district athletic director position to part time.

Though some high school athletic opportunities will remain, WPS’ organized sports for middle school will be eliminated, the release stated.

The $3 million cut won’t be the end of reductions if the district can’t find a replacement for the funding.

Since the school’s budget year does not run concurrent with the calendar year, the half-year of levy funding received in 2023 will be distributed throughout the 2023-2024 school year, stated the release.

For subsequent school years, WPS will need to cut an additional $3 million for the 2024-25 school year, the release stated.

“The board understands that these are unprecedented times and many of our families are under significant economic stress, however, if the community chooses not to pass the replacement levy, our schools will not be able to continue to provide the same high-quality educational opportunities which have led to our district seeing the strongest student performance growth in both Clark and Cowlitz counties,” Green stated in the release.

Ballots for the special election will be mailed out beginning on April 7. The deadline to turn in ballots for the election is 8 p.m. April 25.