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Home » Archives » April 2009 » Education Budget Proposals

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04/01/2009: "Education Budget Proposals"


Washington State Senate and House have released their respective budget proposals. Public schools would fare better under the House budget, however, both budget proposals represent significant program cuts to the San Juan Island School District and all other school districts in the State.



An analysis by the governor's budget office indicates the House proposal would cut K-12 funding by $625 million, compared with an $877 million reduction in the Senate budget.

The most significant proposed cuts are targeted at funding for reduced class size. I-728 funds, approved by the voters in 2000 for the purposes of reducing class size, are reduced by 93% in the Senate budget proposal and by 63% in the House proposal. In addition, the Senate proposes eliminating the K-4 class size enhancement. In the San Juan Island District, the proposals amount to revenue reductions for class size in the range of $145,000 (House) to $455,000 (Senate).

Both proposals do include using some Federal Stimulus Funds to backfill a portion of the proposed cuts in State funding. “Though the funding picture changes daily, we are still projecting and planning for overall program reductions of approximately $1.1 million over the next two years in our district,” Superintendent Michael Soltman said. “We have been planning since last August to make necessary budget reductions in ways that minimize the impact on our instructional programs to ensure the quality of our schools.”

Next steps in the State budget process are for the House and Senate to each pass their respective budget proposals, followed then by a Senate/House Conference Committee to develop a compromise budget bill. The cut-off for budget bills is April 6th with action required by April 17th.

The end of the session is scheduled for April 27th. Soltman said, “We will be working closely with our representatives in the legislature to communicate the potential effects of these budget reductions, and to continue to advocate for the Legislature to fulfill its obligation to fully fund basic education. The funding picture will change daily now as the legislature debates the budget bills and forms a compromise bill in the Conference Committee.”

Early Analysis of Legislative Education Budget Proposals
OSPI Facts about the K-12 Financial Crisis


Over the past few days the Washington State Senate and House have released their respective budget proposals. Public schools would fare better under the House budget, however, both budget proposals represent significant program cuts to the San Juan Island School District and all other school districts in the State. An analysis by the governor's budget office indicates the House proposal would cut K-12 funding by $625 million, compared with an $877 million reduction in the Senate budget.

The most significant proposed cuts are targeted at funding for reduced class size. I-728 funds, approved by the voters in 2000 for the purposes of reducing class size, are reduced by 93% in the Senate budget proposal and by 63% in the House proposal. In addition, the Senate proposes eliminating the K-4 class size enhancement. In the San Juan Island District, the proposals amount to revenue reductions for class size in the range of $145,000 (House) to $455,000 (Senate).

Both proposals do include using some Federal Stimulus Funds to backfill a portion of the proposed cuts in State funding. “Though the funding picture changes daily, we are still projecting and planning for overall program reductions of approximately $1.1 million over the next two years in our district,” Superintendent Michael Soltman said. “We have been planning since last August to make necessary budget reductions in ways that minimize the impact on our instructional programs to ensure the quality of our schools.”

Next steps in the State budget process are for the House and Senate to each pass their respective budget proposals, followed then by a Senate/House Conference Committee to develop a compromise budget bill. The cut-off for budget bills is April 6th with action required by April 17th. The end of the session is scheduled for April 27th. Soltman said, “We will be working closely with our representatives in the legislature to communicate the potential effects of these budget reductions, and to continue to advocate for the Legislature to fulfill its obligation to fully fund basic education. The funding picture will change daily now as the legislature debates the budget bills and forms a compromise bill in the Conference Committee.”


OSPI Facts about the K-12 Financial Crisis


The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction published on March 30th the following fact sheet on the K-12 Public Schools Financial Crisis. Information regarding the San Juan Island School District has been noted based upon information available at this time.

What is the extent and causes of the financial crisis for schools?

Districts are on the brink of financial crisis. Their reserves are low. Their costs are increasing faster than their revenue. They face tremendous lay-offs even without state funding reductions in the next two years. Factors include:

1. For 2008-09, 36 districts appear close to financial emergency. These districts, with a total operating value of $2 billion, budgeted less than a 2% unrestricted reserve. In 2007-08, districts with less than 2% in reserve had a total operating value of $1 billion. Large and small districts have very low reserves. (Note - SJISD had reserves of 9% at the end of the 2006-07 school year. Operating reserves are projected to be 5% at the end of the 2008-09 budget year).

2. Six districts are on Binding Conditions (the process where a district that cannot balance its budget and is put under state-imposed financial and management conditions); 3 more districts are evaluating whether or not they can balance their 2008-09 budget. (Note -SJISD is operating with a balanced budget and will make necessary reductions to balance the 2009-10 budget with a 5% operating reserve).

3. Districts have tapped out their levies. In the 90’s, districts were using 75% of their levy capacity; they are now using 92% of their levy capacity. Local funds (largely levy funds) are used up and cannot continue to subsidize State responsibilities. (Note -SJISD uses 100% of its levy capacity -representing approximately 19% of the operating budget).

4. Districts are provided with unequal salary allocations from the State to hire staff; districts must subsidize state allocations in order to attract and retain staff. In 2007-08 the State paid between 59% and 84% of the salary cost of principals and administrators, and 84% to 96% of the “State Funded” salary cost of classified staff. Districts subsidize state salary allocations by about $370 million per year.

5. Districts use local funds to subsidize their basic education non-staff operating costs (utilities, insurance, supplies, textbooks and curriculum) by about $544 million. The State only pays for about 50% of the non-salary operating costs. The State provides enough operating funding for districts to afford to buy new textbooks or curriculum every 18 years. For 46 districts and 17,000 students, the amount the State provides for all non- salary operating funding is less than they spend on utilities and insurance alone (leaving $0 in State funding for supplies, textbooks, technology, and other operating costs). (Note -SJISD is fortunate to have the San Juan Island Public Schools Foundation contribute approximately $50,000 annually for curriculum and materials)

6. Districts subsidize basic education pupil transportation by $125 million a year. (Note - SJISD subsidizes transportation by approximately $90,000 - $120,000 per year).

7. Washington State class size is the third highest in the nation and State resources provide too few school nurses, counselors, and librarians. The state funds a K-3 class size average of 25.8 and grades 4-12 average class size of 28.6.

What level of budget reductions can we expect in school districts for the 2009-10 school year before state reductions?

1. Sixteen districts, serving 27% of the student population, will reduce their budgets by $25 million. Projecting the experience of these 16 to all districts, this totals $94 million for 2009-10. (Note - SJISD is projecting a $1.1 million reduction over the next two years)


2. Why? The exact scenario for each district is unique; the most common mix of issues is:

o Just about all districts must respond to increases in utilities and insurance costs that will grow faster than the total (non-employee related costs) NERC allocation. All other NERC costs may grow also (supplies, audit costs, textbooks, etc).

o Just about all districts must increase their subsidy of pupil transportation.

o Some districts report that in the 2008-09 school year, they made one-time expenditures from their reserves, but now cannot sustain these decisions and must cut programs.

o Some districts must cut programs and maintenance level costs to accommodate greater costs for supplemental salaries and employee contracts, and/or health care.

o Some districts must build their reserves that are already too low.


3. How many teachers does this equate to? OSPI cannot quantify this. Districts have “non-classroom” options for reductions and will try to protect the classroom. But for most districts, several years of reductions leave them few non-classroom options. In gross numbers, the $94 million would support about 1,100 mid-career teachers. In reality, the teachers most recently hired (frequently reflective of new emphasis on math and science), will be the first lay-offs. (Note - SJISD is projecting a reduction of approximate 5 teachers over the next two years -the largest portion of our reductions are in non-instructional and administrative services)

How much will districts receive in federal funds and how will it help school districts for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years?

1. The federal recovery and stabilization act includes $350 million for the Title I ($129 million) and Special Education ($221 million) programs; to be used over the next 27 months.
2. Federal funding does not free up levy funds and cannot fully offset cuts explained above.
o Districts will be able to re-hire some teachers in their Title I programs, expand these programs and provide more help to struggling students. However, district Title I allocations can only be used in Title I-eligible schools. In general, Title I funding does not “free-up” levy funds and cannot off-set cuts explained above.
o Special Education: Teachers must have a special education endorsement and therefore, fewer teachers from the general classroom can be re-employed with new federal funding. Some districts can free-up levy funds with new federal resources; for these districts this is some help. Many districts cannot. The bottom line is that the capacity to free-up levy funds is unequal and based on unique district circumstances and history.

(Note -SJISD is waiting to receive information about specific amounts and uses of the Federal Stimulus Funds)

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