Possible layoffs

Olympia School District’s budget deficit draws alarm


The Olympia School District (OSD) had a meeting last Thursday, January 26, to discuss what actions can be taken to address the budget deficit, bringing community members to voice their worries, especially the affected sectors, such as the district’s staff that are projected to lose jobs.

Kate Walker, a spouse of an OSD educator, called for a need to support students and staff under OSD.

“I know there's a lot of hard decisions related to the district budget that you have ahead of you. As you consider the priorities, I hope that your considerations will have an overarching focus on investments that address equity for both students and employees in the District,” Walker said.

Angela Fisher, a teacher at Reeves Middle School, expressed unease about losing her current job because of budget issues.

“The school district is facing a $17 million deficit this year and I was notified by my union president that I should look for another job due to the deficit,” Fisher said. “For the past five years, I worked at Reeves Middle School as a substitute paraeducator, as a paraeducator, as a long-term substitute teacher, and finally as a classroom teacher.”

Superintendent’s response

Superintendent Patrick Murphy addressed the commenters and remarked that the budget conversations are ‘going to be painful’.

“I appreciate the sentiment, and I do lose sleep all the time, about our budget situation or many other things,” Murphy said. And I really appreciate that sentiment that we're talking about people and not numbers.”

“We're looking at kind of a triple storm using extra dollars to do things that we thought was right, hired a lot of people and that money is going away,” Murphy added.

Murphy acknowledged that when the district is faced with the type of budgetary situation it is in, the public and the board will still have that conversation about people’s personal issues.

“We have to prioritize and when you're prioritizing people it becomes personal, but it also is informative, and it helps us to make these really tough decisions. I really hope that we can take feedback from the board tonight [as] we did from the public and make that survey a more usable tool for everyone,” Murphy added.

Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Priddy shared the prospect timeline, “The budget survey takes place over February with the results reported to the Board in March.”

According to Priddy, there are also different opportunities for input beyond the survey – Facebook live webinars, meetings at schools, meetings with PTA groups, in-person community forums, and regular OSD board meetings.


5 comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • JW

    Good. The monetary black hole of public education could use some of its bounteous fat trimmed off. Only in the public sector could an organization with a budget so large turn out a product so mediocre.

    Friday, January 27, 2023 Report this

  • bobkat

    Here's the tough math:

    Consolidate/close under utilized schools+ reduce staff + eliminate "nice-to-have" but unnecessary programs = budget equilibrium.

    Saturday, January 28, 2023 Report this


    Rampant waste in the OSD. Half the real estate taxes go toward floating this low ranking, unimpressive, mediocre-at-best school system. Trim the fat and set up systems for more accountability across the board about where the money is going. It certainly isn't going toward achieving a high functioning school system.

    Sunday, January 29, 2023 Report this

  • Theolympians

    This school district has pulled the wool over so many of our eyes for too long. Only recently have we realized we were bamboozled. The schools are stinking, they have overspent and under planned, relying on insecure funding. Have you checked out test scores? No? You probably should. The schools are not worth moving here for. The district also has quite the problem on their hands of steamrolling over a large amount of parents that they don't agree with. I have always been a liberal. HA! Who would have EVER guessed that my liberal ideas now make me a conservative! It's mind blowing.

    Monday, February 6, 2023 Report this

  • thoughtcurator

    OSD has overspent for years without any accountability. While the folks sitting high on their overpriced office chairs at the district office at Knox fatten their purses and have no personal investment in this community and put their own children in private schools, they remain disconnected from the people their very positions were created to serve. They discount and disregard what parents have to say. They foster a hostile work environment and abuse or neglect the needs of their lower-paid staff, and make excuses for irresponsible and negligent overspending from people they already overpay to begin with. They have stripped the schools of programs that made them valuable to the communities and families they once served (take ORLA, for example) and ignore complaints, concerns, and feedback from tax-paying parents and citizens unless and until they are faced with microphones and cameras from a media outlet they can't ignore, and even then, they sugarcoat and spew a farce of empathetic words while they pretend to care. After all their gross misconduct and mismanagement of public funds, who will suffer from the budget cuts? Not Patrick Murphy. Not Jennifer Priddy. Not Autumn Lara. The teachers and paraeducators who are losing their jobs. The students and families who are losing their schools due to upcoming school closures as a result of these 'budget constraints.' Has the OSD even made public yet that they intend to close two elementary schools within the next year to make up for their despicable budget deficit? Let's talk about that, shall we?

    Tuesday, February 7, 2023 Report this