Seattle schools look to cut $23 million

Updated:

New budget battles are looming for Seattle Public Schools, which is making cuts to close a money gap of more than $23 million this year.

The district said it’s relieved that state lawmakers didn’t make big cuts to school spending this year, but points out its operating expenses have continued to rise and cuts still have to be made.

Here are some of the bigger points in the district's proposed budget:

  • About 50 layoffs are expected, which would affect teachers, counselors and nurses.
  • There will be a continuation of furloughs to save money. Upper managers will stay home four days, while teachers will take off a day and a half.
  • Six elementary schools will begin a half hour later so that buses can make more trips to and from schools, thereby saving money.
  • The tuition for full-day kindergarten will jump by $35 per month.
  • There will be no more driver’s education classes.

“We have tried very hard to keep those cuts away from the classrooms and away from the parents, and in past years when we’ve had more significant shortfall to address, we haven’t been able, wholly, to keep them away from classrooms,” assistant superintendent Duggan Harman said.

The teachers' union said it has some concerns about the proposed budget.

It especially doesn’t like the layoffs of school guidance counselors at elementary schools. Seattle Education Association president-elect Jonathan Knapp said he wonders who’s going to help kids deal with troubles outside of classrooms. He said he also fears that music and physical education programs will suffer.