TACOMA, Wash. - When striking Tacoma teachers got the pay raises they demanded last fall, district officials predicted the larger paychecks would create a massive budget shortfall.
“We’re facing about a $30 million loss of revenue next school year,” said district spokesman Dan Voelpel. “That’s going to mean some serious cutbacks in the school district.”
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Now the district is forming a budget advisory committee to get public input about what changes should be made to drastically reduce the budget. Invitations went out on Twitter on Monday asking residents to apply for the committee.
“Right now we’re looking at everything,” Voelpel said. “Staff cutbacks, programs, initiatives, all the good things we’re doing to help kids.”
But teacher's union President Angel Morton says she optimistic the shortfall won't be anywhere near $30 million.
“I think the district is operating, right now, under worst-case scenario planning. Which I understand they need to do,” Morton said.
After teachers across the state walked off the job last year legislators began calling for a change to the state's levy cap which limits how much districts can ask from local voters after the McCleary ruling by the Washington State Supreme Court that transferred school funding to state control. Morton says she believes the pressure to change current laws will open up the purse strings and fill the gap.
“In all my conversations with legislators they’ve indicated they’re working to get a levy fix so that school districts across the state will not be harmed by this budget shortfall,” said Morton.
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