Sunday, February 27, 2011

A new focus in Olympia . . .

Now that the legislators and governor have agreed on a supplemental budget to take care of problems with the current year’s budget, things should start happening with the next biennial budget. Though we should make it through this year without major changes, we are concerned with next year. There is currently a projected state shortfall of $4.6 billion that will grow because of supplemental budget deferrals to next year’s budget and once again, projected revenue decreases in the upcoming forecast.

How will this shortfall be managed? Where will the cuts come from and what will be the impact on the state’s schools? I join WASA, my state association, in asking the legislators to:

• Not further reduce basic education funding.
• Not reduce funding for or restructure Local Effort Assistance, LEA.
• Not consider reducing the 180 day school year and pushing the funding problems to the local level.

We understand that the cuts in funding to K-4 that we are experiencing this year will more than likely continue in the next biennium. We also understand the tremendous burden faced by these legislators and the shrinking pool of potential cuts, but we ask that they preserve funding at the level imposed in the supplemental budget. This will be an issue because we will not have the approximately $1.5 million federal jobs money to offset cuts as we did this year.

Please consider these points if you have an opportunity to share your thinking with legislators as they struggle with this huge deficit.

A bill that was introduced last week is especially troubling.  SB 5829 may be one for you to focus on as it would transfer control of cuts and reductions to the school year to the local district for bargaining. I do not support transferring a state responsibility to the local districts and the potential negative energy drain to our work that could accompany this change.

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