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    House Passes Bill to Delay Levy Cliff and Other Budget Updates
    Posted on 01/24/2017
    Families and Educators in Olympia on the Day of Action, January 16, 2017

    Budget Update from Superintendent Nyland

    Dear Seattle Public Schools staff and families:

    Monday, January 23, 2017, the Washington State House voted to pass a bill designed to delay the Levy Cliff by one year. The bill passed by the House on Monday, now moves to the Senate.

    This is hopeful news for Seattle Public Schools and many districts across the state. The Levy Cliff is a significant component of next year’s $74 million budget shortfall. If the total Levy Cliff loss is extended, it could reduce our deficit by $30 million dollars.

    Over the past few months, staff, and the School Board have been working to address the projected budget shortfall. On January 11, at a special meeting of the School Board, we came to consensus on how to address the majority of the 2017-18 deficit. Unless the state takes action by February 28, the district will need to move forward with the budget reduction plan. Read more about the Board consensus on how to address a majority of budget shortfall.

    I want to personally thank the School Board for their hard and thoughtful work during this process. They have consistently kept students and our mission of educational excellence at the center of very difficult and challenging decisions.

    I also want to share the activities that have taken place that align with the district’s legislative agenda and help raise the visibility of the budget issues with our community and state representatives. Below are some of the highlights from the past few weeks.

    Community Development Roundtable with the Seattle Chamber of Commerce

    On Monday, January 9, Director Blanford and I were invited to meet with the Community Development Roundtable to discuss our budget challenge(s) with the business community.

    Seattle Delegation Meeting on the Levy Cliff and McCleary

    On Wednesday, January 11, Director Jill Geary, staff, and I met members of the Seattle legislative delegation to review our legislative platform and work together on budget needs, including addressing the Levy Cliff. The Levy Cliff, a premature reduction of our local levy authority, is $30 million of our budget shortfall.

    If addressed by February 28, the effect on schools would be significantly reduced. Thank you to our Seattle legislators for their understanding of the issues, including their sensitivity to the timing of the Levy Cliff fix, and their commitment to helping us reduce disruption to our schools, staff, and students.

    Puget Sound Education Leaders Event to Urge Lawmakers to Extend Existing Levy Limits

    Superintendents and board members pose for a photo at the PSESD event

     

    The Levy Cliff and underfunding of public education will affect many school districts in our region and across the state. On Thursday, January 12, Director Geary and I attended the Levy Cliff media event with the 34 other Puget Sound Educational Service District (PSESD) superintendents and board members.

    Our coordinated presence made a significant statement about the negative effect the Levy Cliff will have on many district’s budgets, students, parents, educators, and other staff.

    You can learn more about the event and Levy Cliff by reading the PSESD article "Education Leaders Urge Lawmakers to Extend Existing Levy Limits."

    Seattle Council Parent Teacher Student Association (SCPTSA) Meeting

    We met with SCPTSA on January 12. We are working really closely with the SCPTSA to launch additional family communication and engagement opportunities regarding the budget shortfall. The SCPTSA has hosted three public engagement meetings so far on our behalf. I am deeply grateful for the SCPTSA’s partnership in this area.

    Day of Action: Martin Luther King Jr. Day

    Last week, many of our schools and students, School Board members, families, and staff honored the legacy and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

    Board directors, families, and educators in Olympia on the Day of Action.On Monday January 16, I took the opportunity to support the Seattle Education Association, Seattle Council Parent Teacher Student Association, WA Paramount Duty and the Seattle NAACP as their members advocated for full funding of education in Olympia.

    Close to 7,000 educators, family members, and stakeholders rallied on the steps of the State Capitol building, spoke to their legislative representatives, and listened to moving speeches by Governor Inslee, WA Paramount Duty, educators, and our own Garfield High School students and football team. I want to thank Director Geary for participating and to our partners for organizing such a fantastic event. Read more about MLK Day events across the district. 

    School and Community Partners

    We continue to work closely with Seattle Education Association (SEA) and the Principal Association of Seattle Schools (PASS) to ensure we are united in our message and support for students and staff.

    We meet with SEA and PASS on a regular basis to discuss issues and our work together to increase student achievement and eliminate opportunity gaps. The current budget crisis adds one more challenge to that work. Nevertheless, as a team, we have strong coherence around the issues and what must be done to resolve them.

    We have also presented our budget scenario and legislative agenda to the mayor and his staff. The budget office and other staff continue to outreach to community based organizations and partners. Budget presentations have been provided to the Southeast Seattle Education Coalition, City’s Office of Arts and Culture, and Mother’s Night Out – a community group representing Somali mothers. Last week, I also presented to the Special Education PTSA. If school staff or partners would like a central office presentation of the budget, timeline and current reduction plan please email budget@seattleschools.org.

    We believe budget information and the potential effects on our students and families is important to share in order for everyone to understand the problem and how to solve it.

    As I have said before, the next six months will be difficult. I wish it wasn’t necessary. My continued commitment to you, students, and our community is to communicate regularly about our progress. It is a privilege and honor to serve as your superintendent.

    If you have specific questions about the budget please email budget@seattleschools.org or publicaffairs@seattleschools.org.

    Dr. Nyland
    Superintendent
    Seattle Public Schools