Gov. Gregoire’s budget would cut money for schools
December 23, 2009
By Laura Geggel
As Washington faces a $2.6 billion budget shortfall, the Snoqualmie Valley School District is gauging how much it could be affected by the cuts.
Last year’s $3.35 million budget cuts were hard enough. The district cut 11 teaching positions and cut three of its four library positions at the middle and high school levels.
Five custodians lost their jobs and the remaining 21 custodians received pay cuts. The middle school extra curricular program lost $300,000, forcing the district to start a pay-to-play policy for both clubs and sports. In 2010, cuts may be even more drastic. Governor Chris Gregoire released her proposed 2010 supplemental budget earlier this month. In a news release, Gregoire said though she was legally required to submit a balanced budget, she did so “with the greatest reluctance.”
“This document is not true to the values I believe in and which have guided me through a 30-year career in public sice,” Gregoire said. “It is not a budget I can live with nor is it one I believe Washingtonians can live with.”
Randy Dorn, the state superintendent of public instruction, calculated that as many as 5,000 teachers could be laid off on top of the 1,300 teachers the state lost this year.
“We have world-class standards, but fewer teachers and larger class sizes will make teaching those standards extremely difficult,” Dorn said in a press release. “How can we expect our teachers, already stretched thin in their jobs, to teach standards to a class of 30 or 35 students?”
Snoqualmie Valley schools Superintendent Joel Aune and the school board reviewed the proposed cuts at the Dec. 10 school board meeting and met with State Representative Glenn Anderson, R-Fall City, Dec. 15 to learn more about the state’s financial situation.
“It’s a pretty grim session,” Aune said of the 2010 legislative session, which convenes Jan. 11 and is set to meet for 60 days.
If Gregoire’s budget were passed as it is, public K-12 education would experience severe cuts, including but not limited to:
- K-4 class size enhancement;
- Initiative 728 funds, which provide money for professional development and lower class sizes; and
- the remaining Learning Improvement Day for teacher professional development and funding for the Highly Capable program.
“Almost all of the non-basic education funding will be cut,” Anderson said.
Some federal stimulus dollars may help schools deal with cuts, but those dollars are set to expire after the 2010-11 school year.
There is another way the school district could recoup lost revenue: if the legislature approved raising the levy lid, the district could raise its local tax rate. But Anderson said he was not sure if the legislature would change the existing levy lids in the 2010 session.
Anderson said the budget was sparse, but the state should concentrate on funding education first.
“These are our kids. They are the future,” Anderson said. “If there is one investment when times are really tough, what I think a broad cross section of people agree on is we should be preparing our children for what comes next, no matter how tough it is.”
Laura Geggel: 392-6434 ext. 221 or firstname.lastname@example.org.