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Everett School District: Cuts possible for next school year

(Everett Public Schools)

Everett Public Schools announced Wednesday morning it may cut its 2019-20 budget by 2 percent, or roughly $6.5 million.

This comes after the state issued millions to schools as part of the McCleary decision to fix a gap in education funding. Those dollars went toward compensating school employees.

Although employee pay was fixed, the district said legislators reduced the amount the school district could collect through its local operating levy, underfunding other programs.

School officials said there are other funding problems at issue, such as health services, school resource officers and student and staff safety costs.

Officials said it needs $2.1 million for health services, but the state only allocated $353,000.

For school resource officers, the district said it pays $320,000 and no state funding is provided for that.

Furthermore, the district said it needs $3.95 million to cover additional student and staff safety and security costs, but the state only funds $417,000.

The district, along with other districts, is calling on legislators during the legislative session this winter to fix the issue.

Everett Public Schools Superintendent Gary Cohn stated, “The school board is asking the Legislature to modify the levy cap, which was reduced by the Legislature to $1,500 per student from the voter-approved $2,500, fully fund special education by increasing the per-student funding and reducing the threshold to access safety net funding, and fully fund the new School Employees Benefit Board (SEBB) system, which is scheduled to take over benefits administration in January 2020.”

The district said if there is no fix, the shortfall could bring about necessary budget cuts in the spring, and if the budget is reduced, entire programs could be affected, which may include layoffs.

For employees who could be affected, the district said it will ensure “as much notice as possible is given.”

Some of those reductions could come through attrition the district said.

Other Western Washington school districts have already said possible cuts may come next school year.

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