Note: This story was updated Tuesday, Nov. 22. The information about public school attendance was inaccurate. Gov. Gregoire’s budget calls for considering students to be withdrawn from school after 5 consecutive days of unexcused absences. Currently students are allowed 20. The post is corrected below.
Gov. Chris Gregoire has released her 2012 supplemental budget proposal, and the impacts to state education are along the lines with what education officials have been expecting.
The governor’s budget proposal reduces revenue to school districts and colleges, shortens the K-12 school year, creates a fund to help school districts avoid insolvency, and suspends the state work study program.
The proposal calls for cutting about $507.5 million from education funding. The 2011-13 biennial budget includes $15.3 billion in education funding. Overall, the proposal includes more than $2 billion in budget reductions for the state, and calls for leaving about $600 million in reserves.
Impacts to education include:
Department of Early Learning
- reduce seasonal child care administration, which eliminates state funding through nonprofits for child care subsidies for migrant workers. Saves about $2.1 million
- Eliminate state funding for Child Care Resource and Referral program. Most funding is from federal government, so only impacts 11 percent of program’s services. Saves about $1.3 million.
- Reduce administration by $950,000.
- Shorten the K-12 school year by four days, leaving 176 days in the school calendar. School districts would still need to maintain 1,000 instructional hours each year. Employee salaries would also be reduced, since fewer days would be included in contracts; impact is about 2.2 percent, beginning with the 2012-13 school year.
- Reduce monthly allocations for K-12 health benefits by $23 per person. Saves $19.9 million.
- Delay June 2013 apportionment until July 2013. This is an accounting move that basically moves the financial burden to the next budget. Gregoire states in the budget proposal that the 2013 Legislature could reverse this plan if state revenue increases. School districts still receive all the money their due, it just falls into another budget year. This has the potential to impact payroll; a similar move was done this year. Saves about $340 million in the 2011-13 budget.
- Reduce levy equalization payments, which is money given to property-poor districts to help keep property tax rates from being unbearable. (i.e. districts with low property value need to have higher tax rates to raise the same amount of money as districts with high property values) Districts would be classified into four levels; districts with the lowest property values would have the least amount cut. Some districts will lose all their funding. If state revenue increases, Gregoire wants to remove this cut. Saves about $151.9 million.
- Shift bus depreciation payments from October to August. This is another accounting move that shifts the burden to future budgets. Saves about $49 million from current budget.
- Eliminate several state grants, including Readiness to Learn, principal and superintendent internships, career and technical-education start-up grants, and Promoting Actual Student Success. Reduces other grants, including Washington Reading Corps, College Readiness and IT Academy. Saves $8.8 million.
- Reduce national board certification bonuses by $1,000 per person, saving $8.6 million.
- Change the state attendance policy so that students are considered withdrawn after 20 5 consecutive days of absences. Saves $6.5 million.
- Reduce staffing for high schools with fewer than 300 students; schools would have a minimum of 8 teachers instead of 9. Saves $4.4 million.
- Reduce administration costs in the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction by $600,000.
- Reduce state support for School for the Blind and Center for Childhood Deafness and Hearing Loss by 5 percent. Saves $693,000.
- Create financial contingency fund for districts that might face insolvency due to the delay in apportionment. Costs $10 million.
- Provide grants to 12 high schools and 2 skill centers for aerospace assembler and manufacturing support programs, allowing students to enter the work field after graduation. Costs $450,000.
- Promote aerospace careers through Project Lead the Way and grants to 10 high schools. Costs $250,000.
- Reduce state support to colleges and universities by $106.1 million. For Western Washington University, the impact is about $7 million. (Gregoire’s proposal calls for cutting 17 percent of state support; with tuition increases already budgeted for the 2012-13 school year, the net impact is about 11 percent). The overall revenue for the university, including tuition and local funds, is $273 million for the 2011-12 school year. For the Whatcom Community College and Bellingham Technical College, the cut is about 13 percent; exact dollar amounts haven’t been released because it goes through the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.
- Suspend the state work study program, which impacts 7,600 students statewide. Federally funded work study won’t be affected. Saves about $8.1 million (starting with fall 2012).
- Increase capacity for engineering programs at University of Washington and Washington State University. Costs $7.6 million.
With the proposed cuts, about 43 percent of the state’s general fund is spent on K-12 public schools. About 7.4 percent is spent on higher education.
Gregoire is also discussing a sales tax increase; if that passes, several items might be removed from the budget cut list, including shortening the school year and reducing levy equalization payments.
The state legislature starts the special session on Monday, Nov. 28.
Comments about the budget proposal from various education people are below the jump.
Western Washington University President Bruce Shepard
This morning, the Governor proposed, as she is required to, a revised budget for the current biennium, one that addresses a shortfall of about $2B that had not been anticipated when the original 2011-13 budget became law.
That proposal translates, for Western, into an additional cut of $7M for the biennium we are currently in. Coming on top of cuts already made to our budget, a cut that enormous would have potentially dire consequences.
It’s really important that we all understand just how dire.
No plans for cuts have been made. No planning has begun. But, the magnitude of such cuts can be imagined. Please check out: Impacts of Cutting Another $7M From Western’s Operating Budget.
It is important to understand how seriously the new cuts could damage Western. It is even more important to make sure they do not happen. We must once again fight for Western, for Washington, for the future of both.
The Governor is already fighting for both. In addition to the budget cuts, she also proposed a revenue measure. As we currently understand it, it would make the further cuts to Western unnecessary.
But, such a measure is a long, long way from being a realistic possibility let alone being a done deal. Her revenue proposal would require a vote of the people.
All the more important to get engaged. Engaged in whatever ways you think best.
The page I sent you to in the link above also provides you with ways to get involved that you may wish to consider.
And please remember this: we are a long way from any final result. The Governor has proposed. Now, the ball is in the Legislature’s court. Things could get better. They could get worse. They could get a lot worse.
Again, all the more important to get engaged and to stay engaged. It worked last time: final cuts were much less than those initially proposed but only because we were engaged, engaged shoulder to shoulder.
And, yet another critical reason to be engaged: we cannot allow Washington’s nationally unprecedented slashing of four-year higher education institutional budgets to again be carried on the backs of our students – directly through further tuition increases or less directly through increased time to degree, unavailability of classes, and limited access to high demand majors.
We will need to hang in there for the long haul, having patience. It is possible that this matter will not be finally worked out until April or May.
Again, do know how much your patience, your devotion, your accomplishments to date are appreciated.
Washington Education Association
Statement from Washington Education Association President Mary Lindquist regarding Gov. Gregoire’s revenue and budget proposal:
“We’re encouraged by Gov. Gregoire’s call for new revenue to avoid even deeper cuts to public education. Gov. Gregoire recognizes that additional budget cuts on top of the $2.5 billion we’ve already cut from K-12 schools will cause long-term harm to our students and our state. However, Washington teachers and education support professionals believe we should be looking at a full range of revenue options that voters will support. Instead of expecting children, teachers and middle-class families to sacrifice even more, profitable corporations and the very rich must be asked to pay their fair share in these tough economic times. All revenue options must be on the table.
“We’ve said it before: Washington’s educators stand firmly opposed to another all-cuts state budget.”
League of Education Voters
Education cuts “wrong solution for ailing economy”
League of Education Voters condemns cuts to education budget
Eliminating four school days and slashing education funding by $508 million (early learning through higher education) puts the state on the wrong path—shortchanging students and our state’s economic future.
“Cutting education is the wrong solution for our ailing economy,” said Chris Korsmo, CEO of the League of Education Voters. “This will only make the problem worse.”
Reducing the number of school days will force districts to carry out these cuts unevenly and unfairly across the state. Some districts will avoid cutting days by scaling back professional development days or cutting other programs; poorer districts will have no alternative but to cut instructional time.
The proposed $152 million cut in Local Effort Assistance funds will further exacerbate the growing gap between wealthy and poor communities.
“This budget will hurt poor kids the most,” Korsmo said.
The governor has proposed $168 million cuts in higher education. Over the past four years the state has slashed support for our community colleges by 22 percent and our four-year institutions by nearly 50 percent. The state has authorized higher education institutions to offset the costs by raising tuition—shifting the cost of higher education dramatically to students and their families.
“We can’t fix a broken education system with a broken tax system,” said Korsmo. “The governor is right that the state cannot rely on an all cuts budget to meet this crisis. However, we believe it is the duty of the Legislature to fund basic education and not shift its responsibility to a risky vote of the people.”
Further, LEV would challenge the Legislature to find a less regressive approach than raising the sales tax. In 2004, LEV sponsored Initiative 884 to raise the sales tax one cent to fund education. That initiative was rejected overwhelmingly by 60 percent of voters.
On Nov. 28, the first day of the special session, the League of Education Voters will launch a budget calculator to educate Washingtonians about the hard choices being made in Olympia regarding our state’s budget. The calculator presents dozens of budget choices, from public schools to the environment, which lawmakers will consider to fund or cut in the state budget. After the governor’s announcement, it’s clear that these budget decisions are going to deeply affect our children, their futures, and the future of this state.
For further resources and comments, please check our website at http://www.educationvoters.org.