Thursday, December 16, 2010

State budget struggles . . .

With the words, “I hate my budget,” Governor Gregoire paints the gloomy picture of the state budget for the next biennium. She is honoring what she sees as the voter mandate by cutting instead of raising revenue to maintain programs.

Public schools will not be immune from these cuts. Already in this year’s budget, we are looking at cuts to levy equalization and K-4 supplemental funding. For K-4 staffing this means a reduction in staffing support from a level of 53.2 per 1000 in grades K-3 and 47.43 per 1000 in grade 4 to 49 per 1000 in grades K-3 and 46 per thousand in grade 4. Using the November enrollment count, for us it is the equivalent of about 8.5 teaching positions. In addition to these cuts effective February 1, 2011, the federal stimulus dollars allocated for each district in the Education Jobs Federal Grant, will be deducted from the district’s apportionment payments. Fortunately, we had made the decision to not include this as revenue in our budget as we anticipated that this would happen.

In the Governor’s proposed budget for the next biennium these same cuts would be carried over for the next two years as well as continued suspension of I-732, the cost of living adjustment. In addition to these changes she has also proposed many other cuts to education and other services that can be found in this Seattle Times article. One of particular interest to us and to teachers is the proposal to save money by freezing steps on the K–12 salary schedule at levels provided for in the 2010–11 school year. In calculating certificated instructional staff salaries for the 2011–12 and 2012–13 school years, educational service districts will exclude any educational credits or years of service earned after August 31, 2010 thus freezing salary schedule placement for the next two years. In this proposal as in many others, there is still much to be decided and negotiations to be done as the house and senate craft their budget proposals.

We are closely monitoring the budget discussions and decisions and will be sharing our findings with the school board next week. Once the session begins in January, we should begin to better understand how the cuts will be implemented and the impact of each on our district, information necessary to develop the 2011-12 budget

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