Seattle Public Schools considers cuts: ‘We need to make changes’

Apr 27, 2023, 7:34 AM | Updated: 9:44 am

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The school was closed Friday, May 26 through Friday, June 2. Students are now able to return to school Monday. (Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

Since 2017, enrollment has been declining for Seattle Public Schools (SPS), and officials anticipate the trend will continue, at least in the near future. That means the district is losing money.

At a live-stream event in March, SPS Chief Operating Officer Fred Podesta confirmed they are looking at a $131 million budget deficit for the 2023-2024 school year. The current SPS budget is $1.14 billion.

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Officials with SPS are hearing from students and parents as the district considers budget cuts.

Most of the proposed cuts are to administration, but SPS says it would save an additional $11.2 million by making cuts to school-based staff. This could affect some programs, specifically the district’s arts and music programs.

The superintendent said in a meeting Wednesday night that the district recognizes the significance of the music program and made it clear that the district will continue to work toward a solution.

“This means we need to make changes,” Podesta said. “We need to reduce our spending, we need to identify new revenues, and we need to make use of district reserves.”

One item off the table for the next school year is closing or consolidating any schools. Instead, district officials say they will begin in the fall with community engagement to determine how they will make those changes.

Dr. Brent Jones, Superintendent of SPS, says they have not even started the process of identifying which schools might be closed or consolidated.

“We don’t have specifics right now, on purpose,” emphasized Dr. Jones. “We want to make sure we have the opportunity to talk to our families and talk to our community around this concept of a well-resourced school.”

The school board voted unanimously to have the superintendent present his proposals for the upcoming school year’s budget.

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Seattle Public Schools considers cuts: ‘We need to make changes’