By Nancy Covert
The following are from Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire’s proposed school budget for the next two years.
- No COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) for the next two years
- 1-728 funding reduced by 22 percent.
- Levy Equalization reduced by 33 percent
- $48 Million in program cuts (e.g. Reading Corps)
- $40 Million: eliminate Math/Science Professional Development
According to Jennifer Priddy, Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s (OSPI) Assistant Superintendent for Financial Resources, the financial outlook for Education in Washington State during the next four years is grim. Priddy spoke on Jan. 12 at an evening presentation at Steilacoom High School.
After explaining about the State’s obligation to provide a general, uniform and amply funded public school system, she reviewed various aspects of State vs. Local funding responsibilities. Local districts, for example, are responsible for paying COLAs for unfunded positions.
Financial shortfalls occur in the areas of salaries, health benefits, staffing ratios, non-salary costs, special education, LAP/Bilingual education and transportation. She explained about the funding formula vs available funding for school districts statewide.
Using a variety of charts and graphs, Priddy showed examples of revenue shortfalls. For example, one graph explained how Districts spend $500 million more on Non-Salary Operating Costs (NERC) than the State funds.
In the last eight years, she continued, there were several factors that offset State funding shortfalls. Those included a reduction in pension rates, increases in I-728 revenue and federal funding, plus an increase in levy authority to recognize I-728 suspension and I-728 delay.
At present there are no immediate solutions to the shortfall, but Legislators will be working on this issue during the 105-day Legislative session now underway in Olympia.
“It means,” Priddy summarized, “that we have to keep doing more with less.”
Priddy can be reached at (360) 725-6292 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Basic Education Finance Task Force draft final report and other meeting materials can be found on the Internet at www.leg.wa.gov/Joint/Committees/BEF/.