Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Important Survey Regarding Possible Funding Increase For Seattle Public Schools Kindergarten Underway Now

Seattle Public Schools is having an important survey regarding kindergarten funding options for the upcoming school year. They are asking for the public's feedback by tomorrow at 3pm so that the results can help guide decisions at the School Board at its budget working session tomorrow evening. Surveys will be accepted through Friday of this week.

The letter says: 

Dear SPS families and families with young children:

Seattle Public Schools, like all districts in Washington, is faced with an unprecedented budget gap for the 2011-2012 school year. The gap is $35 million, and we have been working with the School Board since last fall to find solutions. Some of the solutions agreed with the School Board include an approximate 20% cut in central office staff positions ($8.3 M savings); transportation plan changes ($2.3 to $4.0 M savings); possible furloughs (up to $3.9 M savings); and use of reserves ($2.3 M).

Our commitment is to reduce funding to individual schools only as a last resort. However, having explored all potential budget solutions, at this time we do not believe we can balance the budget for 2011-2012 without some direct impact to schools. So consideration is being given to reducing school funding via the Weighted Staffing Standard model by about $5.8 M. We are also considering making changes to funding for kindergarten, and we want your feedback.

The State of Washington funds only half-day kindergarten (there are a few exceptions to this for high poverty schools). For many years our district has added funding for a further half day to ensure there is one full-day kindergarten class available in every school. Over the years schools added additional full-day classes and "pay for Kindergarten" programs as more and more families wanted full-day K for their children.

For the 2010-11 school year, we implemented a standard $207 per month pay for full-day Kindergarten program across the district. Students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch also receive tuition waivers for full-day kindergarten.

With the severe budget crisis, we must consider various options to balance the budget and one is related to Kindergarten services. We want your feedback about these options. Thank you.

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