Dr. Nyland's March 16 Letter to Families Regarding Budget Update
2017-18 Potential Budget Deficit Update
Dear Seattle Public Schools families:
Seattle Public Schools faced a $74 million budget shortfall for next school year. Recent bipartisan action in the Legislature reduced that shortfall by $24 million. Thank you to the Legislature and Governor Inslee for delaying the Levy Cliff and for restoring dollars, already approved by our local voters, to our 2017-18 budget.
We are extremely grateful for the timely action. I also want to thank the Seattle Legislative delegation for conveying the seriousness of the Levy Cliff and the potential impact in Seattle. Finally, thank you to the Principal Association of Seattle Schools (PASS), Seattle Education Association (SEA), Seattle Council PTSA (SCPTSA), WA Paramount Duty, and so many others for carrying our needs and message forward.
Delay of the Levy Cliff resolves one-third of the budget shortfall we are facing next year. We can now prepare, with greater certainty, school and central budgets for the 2017-18 school year. It also allows us to reduce far fewer staff and provide our students and families some stability in the short term as the Legislature continues to work on long-term budget solutions.
We find ourselves in a unique position, of being extremely thankful and relieved, but still facing a $50 million budget shortfall. Without full funding from the state, the district will still need to make painful cuts. We are working with our partners to identify restoration priorities. We will take those recommendations to the School Board on March 29. We expect the restoration plan will restore most, but not all, of the proposed staffing reductions. Updated staffing allocations will be sent to schools after spring break.
As a result of the McCleary lawsuit, promises to fully fund education were made. Years later, they remain unfulfilled. Extension of our levy authority, while much appreciated, does not address our long-term financial needs, including adequate and ample educator compensation, nor does it address the state’s onstitutional obligation.
I continue to remain hopeful. The Washington Supreme Court has set a firm deadline. By the end of the 2017 legislative session, the state must have a plan to fully fund education. I am encouraged by our community’s united efforts to get the Levy Cliff addressed. It is evidence that when we are aligned, focused, and persistent, we can get great things accomplished on behalf of our children.
Thank you for your patience, commitment, and continued support of our students. As more information becomes available, I will continue to share updates. If you have any questions during the next phase of the budget process, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
You can also learn more by visiting the SPS 2017-18 Budget webpage
Dr. Larry Nyland