Things are not looking bright at Central Valley, board members learned during Monday’s meeting. The school district stands to lose $3.4 million if Gov. Chris Gregoire’s proposed budget goes through, the same amount the district was forced to cut from the 2009-2010 budget.
The proposed state budget calls for eliminating a K-4 staffing enhancement that provides extra teachers for smaller class sizes in the lower grades. The $1.7 million the district currently receives pays for 21.35 full-time equivalent teachers. Also missing from the governor’s budget would be the remainder of the I-728 money for smaller class sizes, which was already reduced this year. Cutting the district’s final $1.5 million in I-728 money would result in the loss of an additional 30.3 FTE teachers.
Also at risk is the $111,000 that pays for the district’s Able Learners highly capable program. “Those dollars are gone in the governor’s budget,” said Superintendent Ben Small.
The governor’s budget proposed eliminating the last learning improvement day for a loss of $193,588. “If we don’t receive the money, we don’t receive the day,” said Small. “We don’t have any extra time for our teachers for professional development.”
But as bad as it is, it could have been worse. The governor’s budget also calls for cutting all levy equalization money, which is given to mostly Eastern Washington districts that are property-poor and have assessed home values lower than the state average. Adding that in would have bumped up Central Valley’s shortfall to $8.3 million. But the district knew the levy equalization cut was likely coming and prepared. In the levy voters passed in February, the district asked for a higher amount to compensate for the likely loss of $4.7 million on levy equalization money. “They stepped up to support our children,” Small said.
There is already talk, however, that the governor might suggest new taxes to restore some of the money cut from education. “This information will change, absolutely will change, with the House and the Senate budgets,” Small said. “We’ve got a long way to go in the process.”
In other business, board members elected Anne Long as the new board president and Keith Clark was named the new vice president of the board.