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Tacoma Public Schools will face a loss of $30 million in funding next school year, which will require major position eliminations and spending reductions across the district.
Thursday, April 12, the Tacoma Public School board passed Resolution 2055 which authorizes Superintendent Santorno to develop a reduction in force plan. State law requires all school districts to notify their certificated staff by May 15 if they will no longer have a job with the district for the next school year.
Sunday, April 28 is the last scheduled day for the current legislative session. If the Legislature is unable to come to an agreement on the state budget by then, it could continue into a 30-day special session exceeding the state's May 15 notification requirement.
Tonight, Superintendent Santorno read a letter in response to this funding challenge and committed to saving as many jobs as possible. Read her letter >>
Already this school year, to balance the current school year budget, the district has:
To help plan for the 2019-2020 school year budget, the School Board has already hosted two budget work study sessions in the community--Feb. 21 at Mount Tahoma High School and March 21 at Wilson High School. The board has scheduld a third budget work study session:
The Board may choose to add more budget work study session at additional locations.
At each of the work sessions, Chief Financial Officer Rosalind Medina will provide updated information on budget projections and impacts for the 2019-2020 school year. The School Board also has set aside time for public testimony to hear parent, community and staff recommendations for both areas of the budget to cut and district investments that add value.
Why will Tacoma Public Schools receive $30 million less next school year?Over the last several months, the education funding landscape in Washington changed dramatically and unexpectedly.
The funding formula put in place by the legislature last June to satisfy the seven-year-long state Supreme Court case called McCleary created winners and losers. Some school districts—mostly those in wealthy communities—won big financial windfalls in state and local levy funding. Districts like Tacoma and Yakima and others with high-poverty urban neighborhoods actually lose funding in both the short-term and the long-term.
Tacoma voters approved a local tax levy in February 2018 allowing the district to collect roughly $70 million in 2019 to support schools. However, the state funding formula blocks the district from collecting that amount and caps the tax collection at approximately $38 million.
The district, community partners and many other districts across the state have asked the 2019 Legislature to revise the education funding formula. Several bills introduced in the current legislative session would alter the funding formula. However, without any guarantee any fix will pass the Legislature, Tacoma Public Schools must plan for major reductions.
November 23, 2018
Tacoma Public Schools has identified 14 exempt administrative positions for immediate or future elimination, and five other positions, as the first step in reducing an estimated $23.4 million deficit for the current 2018-2019 school year.During a report to the School Board of Directors Oct. 18, Chief Financial Officer Rosalind Medina outlined other budget reductions that, when combined with the administrative position eliminations, will save the district roughly $16 million this school year. Those reductions include:
At this point, the district still must reduce spending by another $7.4 million this school year. The next phase of reductions will look at additional eliminations in administrative exempt and central office support services positions and other spending.
“Our goal through this difficult process is to keep these reductions as far from the classroom as possible,” said Superintendent Carla Santorno.Because we just notified the people in these positions within the last week, we will be working with many of them on work transition plans. The fact is, in some cases, some work will shift to others, some work will not get done and some work may take longer to accomplish. All of our team members have been necessary contributors to the success of our district and provide critical support for our schools. Losing this many people will have impacts on services, Santorno said.The eliminated positions, in alphabetical order, so far:
In cooperation with the Tacoma Education Association (TEA), five of the administrators whose jobs were eliminated have the certifications or experience necessary to qualify for currently vacant certificated positions across the district (three as teachers, one as counselor, one as occupational therapist). Another administrator will shift to an office professional role. Those staff members will shift into those vacancies immediately.“We are appreciative of the willingness of TEA to partner in support of these transfers from exempt to certificated or office professional roles,” said Lisa Nolan, assistant superintendent for Human Resources.During the school board meeting, the district’s legislative liaison, Charlie Brown, presented the first draft of a 2019 legislative agenda that focused primarily on working with legislators to improve the state’s funding formula for education.The new formula put in place this school year allows some school districts in wealthier communities to collect up to $2,500 per student in local voter-approved levies while other districts like Tacoma, which serve high-poverty urban areas, can collect $1,500 per student.That’s inequitable, board members agreed.“We have a lot of community partners who are willing to help us with this issue,” Brown told the board members. “Our goal is not to rehash what happened in the past but fix what’s before us.”Updates on additional position eliminations and spending reductions will come as those decisions are made.
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