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School board alerted to likely budget cut

Angela Watts served as the messenger at Thursday night's Sunnyside School Board meeting in terms of delivering the bad news about Governor Christine Gregoire's budget proposal and what it could mean for the district should it be approved.

Watts told school board officials levy equalization funds are on the chopping block for 2011, as is money for kindergarten through fourth grade class size enhancement, I-728 funds, funding for all day kindergarten, teachers learning improvement day, and other smaller programs.

Superintendent Rick Cole reminded school board directors the governor must balance the budget with existing revenues. He said there's talk that in the later stages of the budget process, Gregoire will present a second budget that isn't so drastic.

When it comes to levy equalization funds, Cole said he thinks levy equalization funding will still be in place, and the lid will be raised on it.

ESD 105 created a spreadsheet for districts demonstrating in dollar amounts what a 72 percent funding loss would be for school districts.

Using those figures, from Sept. 2010 to Aug. 2011, ESD 105 projects the Sunnyside School District will lose $4.5 million in levy funding, $52,000 in Highly Capable program funding, $574,000 in I-728 funding, $920,000 in K-4 enhancement, and $1.3 million in all day kinder funding. The teacher learning improvement day loss of funding would amount to $85,000.

ESD 105 projects the Sunnyside School District would lose $1,246 per student and $7.2 million altogether if there was a 72 percent cut. Cole noted it would be more than that should programs be cut altogether and for this district it would amount to a loss of revenue to the tune of $10 million.

"We're not trying to sensationalize this," Cole said. "Almost all school districts are facing this dire news.

"Last year we survived a $3 million cut. If cuts this year reach $10 million, that means three to four more times the cuts."

Cole added school district representatives from across the state will travel to Olympia during the next session to weekly communicate with legislators the need for education funding.

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