Wenatchee School Board Votes to Discontinue Internet Academy in Current Form
The Wenatchee School District (WSD) Board of Directors took action on Tuesday night to address a budget shortfall in excess of $8 million.
The board voted in favor of the second of three separate plans that were being considered for dealing with the deficit that will cut at least 75 positions at the district, as well as reduce staffing by 8% over the next two years.
It also calls for the discontinuance of the Wenatchee Internet Academy (WIA) in its current format while the district explores different ways of providing online learning using less staffing.
Board member Martin Barron voted to support the move.
"I know it's tough for the students and families in the middle," said Barron. "But I think we're going to do better in the long run if we rework - and that's what scenario two is. It's uncertain and it's taking a risk but it's taking the right kind of risk. I don't think the status quo is fiscally sustainable."
Board members Maria Iniguez, Julie Norton, and Katherine Thomas also voted in favor of moving ahead with the district's second proposed option, while Laura Jaecks was the only member of the board to vote it down.
"I'm going to vote 'no' on the motion," said Jaecks. "Because I don't feel comfortable that we have an adequate solution in any of the three scenarios to serve the high-needs students at WIA."
The decision means that WSD will no longer offer a fully-online curriculum but will instead be rolling internet-based learning into the current programs at the Wenatchee Valley Academy.
The WIA was created using temporary pandemic funding from the federal government and had well over 500 full-time equivalent students two years ago but has since seen its enrollment decline by nearly 90%.
Prior to Tuesday's decision, many families within the district came out in support of continuing the WIA.
The cuts authorized by the board will include a reduction of three positions at the WIA by the start of the 2023-24 school year, as well as 25 certified secondary staff, 22 classified staff positions, 19 certificated elementary positions, and 5 administrator positions.
It also calls for a $1 million reduction in materials and supplies costs, and operating expenses.