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When school districts dissolve: State superintendent testifies on bill

Mirror staff reports:

Members of Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) Randy Dorn's office testified before the Legislature on Jan. 31, giving their thoughts on the processes that need to be in place for when school districts become financially insolvent.

House Bill 2617 was up for discussion during a public hearing of the House Education and Appropriations Oversight Committee.

According to OSPI, HB 2617 would create a formal procedure for when school districts in the state are unable to sustain themselves financially anymore, and are forced to dissolve. The bill will create a financial oversight committee that would be established when a district becomes financially insolvent. That committee would review the district's situation, and then make a recommendation, such as tighter financial controls, or, in the worst case scenario, complete dissolution.

"We certainly don't want any district dissolving," Dorn said. "But if it happens, we need formal and agreed-upon terms so the process is as smooth as it can be. With continued cuts in school budgets, it's possible that in the near future some districts could have trouble paying their bills."

In 2007, the Vader School District was forced to dissolve due to financial issues, which is a driving force behind this bill, OSPI says.

OSPI's Chief Financial Officer Shawn Lewis said this bill helps keep students protected.

"This bill ensures that students come first,” he said. “As we go through the dissolution process, education services (will) continue to be provided to students and school districts around the state.”

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