From the Associated Press:
Each year, 40,000 school children in the state have been introduced to the life of the salmon through the Salmon in the Classroom program. But beginning in January, the 20-year-old program is ending because of state budget cuts.
The elimination of the program is part of a $6.2 million cut in the Fish and Wildlife budget.
Teachers who rely on the program to teach schoolchildren to raise salmon and release them into the wild are upset.
“We heard it was on the chopping block,” said Steven Garlid, who teaches at Bryant Elementary School in Seattle. “It’s been a wonderful program at Bryant for my entire career, 17 years. There’s no substitute for watching salmon eggs develop and hatch.”
The fifth-grade teacher said his students teach younger ones about salmon, and it is an all-school science program.
“I can only guess what the loss will be,” said Garlid. “It’s losing a tradition. You can’t learn this online. We’re losing something that binds the community, and it shows how desperate the state has become.”
Craig Bartlett, spokesman for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, said it was eliminated during the Legislature’s special session and also was proposed to be eliminated in Gov. Chris Gregoire’s proposed budget for the next two years. The department had paid for the program. It had been available at an average of 495 schools each year.
Eliminating the program will save $110,000 the rest of this school year and $442,000 for the next biennium.
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