There are two items moving through the Washington State legislature that require your immediate attention and action. Both items focus on money and directly affect Coe and Seattle Public Schools in a way that is significant enough to warrant your attention. Please use the web address at the bottom to find a list of Washington State Legislatures for you to call or email. Simply put, Coe and SPS need your support so our schools stay properly funded in the future.
This past week in Olympia, legislators reviewed levy proposal “Substitute 5313” which addresses district’s ability to raise funds via local levies. Currently, there is a funding gap for the 2021/2022 SPS school years. This shortfall exists because the state legislature has not released previously voter-approved funds for SPS. If this proposal passes, “Substitute 5313” will address this shortfall in the following ways: (per the WSPA):
- Districts would have a choice $2.50/$1,000 assessed value or a per pupil maximum of $2,500 (districts with fewer than 9,600) or $3,000 (districts with 9,600 or more) – whichever is less;
- Local effort assistance (LEA) would increase to $2,100; and
- An LEA hold harmless clause would be in place for Calendar Year 2020, to ensure no school district would get less LEA under the new levy authority structure during the 2019-20 school year.
Following the public hearing that took place on March 21st, it remains unclear whether or not Chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, Christine Rolfes, will move the bill forward or hold for further refinements. SB 5313 is not on Washington State’s Week 12’s legislative schedule and updates on its progress will be made known once available.
It is imperative that the legislature release these funds and that is exactly what you should ask legislators to do when you contact them.
The House Budget committee for Washington state recently proposed a budget that would only increase Special Education funding by $70 million per biennium for the entire state. To put that into perspective, Seattle Public Schools alone has a $140 million per biennium deficit. The current statewide deficit for Special Education state wide is $230.
The proposed increase is not enough to cover the states’ needs and we need to ask legislators for more money to be allocated to Special Education.
What you can do is simple: Please contact members of both the State House & Senate and let them know that you value a fully funded school system. Express to them that the levy was passed for a reason and that the revenue raised by that levy should be released. Explain to them that Special Education is vital to a school and benefits the entire system. A list of legislators can be found at the two sites below:
Here is sample script:
Hi, my name is ____, and I am calling to urge you to pass SB5313 out of the Ways and Means committee and bring it to a vote in the senate, and to vote yes to lift the levy lid. I am a parent of a child in Seattle Public Schools, and if this bill does not pass, our school will face a massive budget shortfall. This bill is needed just to maintain our already underfunded schools at the same level of funding they have now.
If you have any questions regarding these issues, please feel free to reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From March action request:
The urgent issue: All Seattle Public Schools (including Coe) are facing a budget crisis for next year due to a levy lid at the state level which won’t allow SPS to use all the funds that voters previously passed. To put this in context, in previous years SPS has spent $4,000 additional per student through the levy funding. If the lid is not lifted, SPS will only be able to spend $2,500 per student which means teachers will be cut, critical programs won’t run and our schools will be more overcrowded with less resources. For example, our fourth and fifth grades next year will be over 30 students per class (up from 23 now), our math specialist has been reduced to 0, Special Education, ELL and PCP Specialists have all been reduced and our Assistant Principal will be reduced to half time.
How this will impact Coe is outlined in the “From The Principal” section of this week’s Coe Bulletin. Link: Bulletin – Mar 6 2019.pdf
What can you do? We need you to email state senators TODAY to urge them to lift the levy so our kids and all children in SPS can get the critical funding they need. There is a senate bill SB5313 which may be able to help move the needle. Scroll down for a sample email and a list of senators to send it to (including senators who represent Seattle and the chair of the Ways & Means Committee) so you can cut and paste and then customize.
What else can you do? Please forward to all your friends and encourage them to call and email.
Please scroll down for sample letter and list of email recipients. Thank you for your help and for being a member of the PTA. Our next meeting is Thursday, March 14th from 7:00-8:15pm in the Kearns Library.
Thank you for supporting Coe,
JT Telzrow, Portia Langworthy, Justin Allegro and Sarah Nelson
Coe PTA Executive Committee
Subject: Please lift the levy lid
All of you represent families in Seattle Public Schools. I therefore urge you to work with your fellow Senators to vote SB 5313 out of the Senate Ways & Means committee and/or find another way to lift the levy lid. I am a parent of a child in Seattle Public Schools, and if the levy lid is not lifted in this budget cycle, our already underfunded district will face a $40 million budget shortfall. Lifting the levy lid is needed just to maintain our already underfunded schools at the same level of funding they have now, so that Seattle Public Schools and other districts do not face massive budget shortfalls. We need to fully fund counselors, librarians, nurses, social workers, and special education. Seattle voters have passed continuation levies and are willing to pay the taxes to fund our public schools. Please make sure their votes count!
In the long term, we should not be relying on levies for school funding, but in the short term, the legislature is still not adequately funding “basic education.” It seems that this has already been recognized with regard to Special Ed funding this session, but the narrow definition of “basic education” needs to be revisited. As you are aware, many school districts are facing huge shortfalls, including SPS.
Please do what you can to get SB 5313 moved forward for a vote by the full Senate.
Thanks for your consideration and support.