SEATTLE – It’s no secret that public schools in Washington are underfunded. State lawmakers have racked up $48 million in fines from the state Supreme Court for not coming up with a plan to pay for education.
Seattle Public Schools says it is now facing a $74 million budget shortfall and may be forced to cut positions and programs, if there is no action from Olympia.
“This has been in the making for decades. The state’s been underfunding for decades,” said Seattle Council PTSA Legislative Chair Eden Mack.
“We believe at the end of the day, at the end of the legislative session, let’s say, that there will be some action by legislators. We don’t know when that will be or how much that will mean to Seattle Public Schools,” said Jolynn Berge, Seattle Public Schools assistant superintendent for Business & Finance.
Worst-case scenario, Seattle Public Schools says, is that as many as 440 staff positions would need to be cut.
“You need to have the support staff and the support staff goes beyond tutors or interventionist. We're talking about nursing staff, family support workers, social workers in our schools, counselors. There's a lot of need,” said parent Lisa Evans.
There’s a lot of need but not enough funding.
“When you send kids to buildings that are falling apart and you can’t drink the water and when you don’t give them enough money to afford the copy paper it sends a message that the adults don’t care about the kids,” said Mack.
But they’re not giving up. Parents plan to write letters to lawmakers and to the Seattle delegation in Olympia.
“Testify on bills on what their impact is to Seattle and what it looks like. So how many dollars we would gain or lose, what the policy impact would be for our district, our student, our families,” said Berge.
The next Seattle Public Schools Budget Gap Community Meetings:
Thurs., Dec. 15, 6:30 - 8 p.m.
South Shore PreK-8 School
4800 S Henderson St.
Tues., Jan. 3, 6:30 - 8 p.m.
Franklin High School
3013 S Mt Baker Blvd.