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Education funding: How state's cuts affect Federal Way schools

Superintendent Tom Murphy's prediction last fall of a $12 million shortfall for Federal Way schools is becoming a reality.

Both the state House and the Senate released their proposed budgets this week — and both took some hard hits at education.

"On top of the $14 million in cuts we've taken over the last six years," Federal Way School District spokeswoman Diane Turner said. "This will be devastating, not only to Federal Way, but to districts around the state."

Breakdown of the House budget

The House budget would cut public school funding by $625 million.

The biggest cuts would be in the Student Achievement Program, which would cut per-student funding from $184 to $152, as well as the suspension of I-732, the cost of living adjustments for school employees.

Other cuts include the removal of the two learning improvement days for teachers; funding for professional development for math and science teachers; changes to state testing; and a cut to funding for school libraries.

The House did add about $10.4 million to fund the definition of basic education, the dropout re-engagement system, school district fund balance restoration and flexibility for K-4 staffing.

Breakdown of the Senate budget

The Senate hit K-12 education with cuts of $877 million.

I-728, an approved initiative that reduces class sizes, among other things, would be dramatically reduced. The current funding is $458 per student and the Senate's budget cuts that to $31 per student.

Funding for enhanced staffing of K-4 will also receive a cut, as will the levy assistance program, which will be cut by about 75 percent.

The Senate also chose to cut professional development funding for teachers in math and science as well as an $88 million cut from those items deemed non-basic education, including administration at the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the elimination of lower priority K-12 programs, projects and activities.

Response

OSPI quickly came out with a statement against the Senate's budget.

"I have said this before," state Superintendent Randy Dorn said in a news release. "But it bears repeating: Districts are on the brink of a financial crisis. Without help, teachers will be laid off, class sizes will balloon, services will be cut and building maintenance will be delayed."

Dorn agreed with something the Federal Way School District has said all this year: That the budget, by not fully funding education, did not meet the state's "paramount duty."

Local impact

Federal Way schools could see a cut as deep as $12 million to next year's budget. However, the district is still looking at all the options and what the proposed budgets will mean.

Federal Way received $2.8 million each year in enhanced K-4 staffing and funding, which was cut about 75 percent.

Learning improvement days, which were also chopped, amounted to about $700,000 each year.

I-728 and I-732 are also hard hits for Federal Way. No cost of living adjustment (COLA) means that staff will not see any increases in their pay to compensate for cost of living.

I-728 is about $9.7 million each year in funding. However, the Senate's cut would slash that by 93 percent.

Federal Way also receives about $400,000 for professional development in math and science.

Superintendent Tom Murphy will release his budget recommendations to the Federal Way School Board at its April 28 meeting.

The board will then have until June 23 to make adjustments and listen to public comment before approving the budget.

However, both the House and Senate must reconcile their budgets and reach a final budget, which should come in the next few weeks. They are scheduled to adjourn on April 26.

View the budgets

To view the budgets, visit http://leap.leg.wa.gov/leap/budget/detail/proposals.asp

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