Remember  how last year a lot of wealthy people put their money into a campaign to not have an income tax in our state for the top 1% earners? That was the campaign against I-1098. Well, they won and the rest of us lost. Actually, our children lost along with those with the least among us.

So while the 1% have their children in private schools enjoying all of the benefits of a well-rounded education sans TFA, Inc. recruits, the rest of us will have less than we have now and just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse in terms of funding for our schools. There was one program that was spared, the ed-reformy pilot program for teacher/principal evaluations. Great.

To follow is part of the Washington State School Directors Association (WSSDA) Newsletter that was sent out on November 21st.

Dora

Governor Unveils Supplemental Budget Request

Recommends cutting four school days and $151 million in levy equalization, half-penny sales tax increase

Saying she never thought she would be recommending cuts to the very fabric of our state, Gov. Chris Gregoire announced today a $2 billion all-cuts supplemental budget request and a proposal to increase sales tax by half a penny for three years.

The supplemental operating budget for public schools shows a total of $873.5 million in program eliminations and reductions, and payment shifts for savings in the current biennium. The majority of the changes would affect the 2012-13 school year or the 2013-14 school year.

The governor’s proposal still includes $151 million in cuts to local effort assistance (LEA), beginning in January 2013. Her budget also suggests a one-time adjustment of percentage reductions that would have a greater effect in July 2013 than in the spring months of the 2012-13 school year.

Saying she had been persuaded by those who talked with her about not increasing class sizes, the governor reluctantly is recommending cutting the school year from 180 days to 176 days, for a savings of nearly $100 million to the state. By cutting days, state funding for school employee salaries would be reduced by 2.2 percent, while transportation and MSOC would be reduced by a proportional amount.

The governor’s proposed spending plan also shifts the June 30, 2013 apportionment payment by one day, to July 1, 2013, thereby mitigating the impact in the current biennium, and shifting the obligation to the 2013-15 biennium.

Similar to last session, the budget includes a $10 million “financial contingency fund” for school districts that meet certain hardship criteria caused by the apportionment shift and apply to OSPI for a loan that must be repaid in the following year.

The governor indicated she wants the Legislature to act on the supplemental budget in the special session that begins November 28, and to enact her referendum to the people on a half-penny sales tax increase as written.

Her sale tax proposal would direct an estimated $411 million of the new money raised to K-12 education, to buy back school days and LEA. The sales tax would also restore higher education funding. The goal would be to ask voters in a March election and begin collecting revenue immediately.

In addition, $41 million in new revenue would be directed to public safety, while $42 million would help restore program funds for long-term care and the developmentally disabled.

On the balance sheet

In addition to cutting days and LEA and the apportionment shift – which account for two-thirds of the changes to K-12 funding – the governor’s supplemental budget request includes the following cuts or shifts:

  • $48.9 million shifting bus depreciation payments from October to August
  • $19.9 million in cuts to employee health benefits, from $768 to $745 per month
  • $11.7 million in changes to student enrollment reporting, by adding a June count and excluding from the enrollment count students who have accumulated over five days of consecutive unexcused absences
  • $8.5 million by reducing the amount of each national board bonus from $5,000 to $4,000
  • $4.3 million by reducing the number of teachers in high schools with 300 or fewer full-time students from nine to a minimum of eight instructors
  • A number of reductions or full-blown eliminations to programs targeting dropout prevention, STEM skills building, CTE and literacy, for example
  • Many “adjustments” based on changes to enrollment, pension costs, payment shifts, and projections that are proposed to be updated in the supplemental budget
  • $160 million in cuts to the state’s four-year colleges and universities and community colleges

On the plus side of the balance sheet, all-day kindergarten and K-3 class size reductions were spared, as was the existing teacher/principal evaluation pilot project. Small investments also were made, including $250,000 for Project Lead the Way and $450,000 in aerospace training. In addition, slots for three- and four-year-olds enrolled in the state’s early learning program were maintained.

Click here for a detailed description of the governor’s budget proposal and list of proposed changes to the 2011-13 biennial operating budget. The link titled “Superintendent of Public Instruction” contains the overall review of budget changes. For a detailed explanation of what is being proposed, click on individual links and read the associated budget notes that follow the budget numbers.