I remember one winter day as a child I built an amazing structure out of an old card deck. Hard work went into the intricate house of cards I constructed. Imagine my disappointment when, one by one, several significant cards were “stolen” by my friend for another project! It held for a while, but eventually the house of cards came crashing down.
I have been a Washington public educator for almost forty years, an enthusiastic part of the building of a structure that serves the highest moral endeavor of the land. I have watched as our state has built a public school system that effectively serves our young people. Card by card, we have built a system that not only serves young people well, but has also harbors the potential and hope for a positive future for us all.
The recent crisis in school funding, manifested by the Governor’s recently released recommended budget, has the very real potential to dismantle our house of education. One card, one reduction at a time and our house will likely begin to crumble. We owe our children, and our future, more!
The recommendations include a reduction of four school days, the elimination of important programs such as Readiness to Learn and CTE start-up funding, a revised attendance reporting procedure that will potentially reduce funding, a reduction to small high school funding, salary reductions for all educational employees, a reduction in health coverage for educational employees, and other cuts. Also on the list is the elimination of, and/or significant reduction to levy equalization funding, of great significance to many districts with low tax bases.
The Governor’s reductions are estimated to be well over $100,000 to Lopez School, with similar damages to other school districts in the San Juans. The recommendations will be considered by the legislature in a special session, beginning November 28. Let us hope that the legislature will find a way to avoid the draconian budget reductions recommended by the Governor and others. We must preserve our house of education, for your children and mine, for our future!