Increased levy lid could offset cuts
In order to fill a $2.6 billion revenue hole, Governor Christine Gregoire today proposed a 2010 supplemental state budget that would reduce funding to the Issaquah School District by almost $5 million next school year.
The majority of the cuts come in areas allocated for class size reduction. The Governor’s proposal eliminates all of I-728 funding—which the District has used almost exclusively to lower class sizes—and decreases the funding for student/teacher ratios at the elementary level. Teachers also incur a pay decrease through the loss of the single remaining state-funded professional development day, and dollars to support highly capable programs drop to zero.
“The potential loss of $5 million is devastating,” Superintendent Steve Rasmussen said. “When you consider this is on top of the $7.3 million we lost in state funding last year, this budget will cut deep into an organization that has already had to make painful service-level reductions in schools.”
State Superintendent of Public Education Randy Dorn anticipates that as many as 5,000 teachers could be laid off under the Governor’s proposed budget.
“We also need to look beyond next year,” Dorn said. “This school year, many districts were kept afloat by federal stimulus funding. But that money won’t be available in 2011-12. In that school year, the contribution rates that districts pay into the teachers and staff retirement systems will increase dramatically because of legislative action and depressed investment earnings. Those contributions will need to be replaced.”
The state House of Representatives and Senate will each propose a supplemental budget proposal in early 2010, and the final budget will be a compromise between their versions’ and the Governor’s.
One significant off-setting revenue source suggested by the Governor was an increase in districts’ maintenance and operations (M&O) levy lid, which would have to be approved by the Legislature. Last spring, legislators considered similar recommendations without taking any action.
For example, a 4-percent increase in the Issaquah School District’s M&O levy lid—one of the options considered most viable by the legislature last session—would result in an estimated $4 million more per year for the operations budget.
“We have been fighting for years in Issaquah for a levy lid that is equitable with our neighbors’,” Rasmussen said. “We are at a crisis situation now where it’s absolutely critical to find some assistance in this area—our local community should have the opportunity to invest in its children because the state is falling short.”