Walkouts held at 3 Seattle community colleges to protest lack of state funding

SEATTLE — Hundreds of students and staff have walked out at three Seattle college campuses, saying the state’s system of community and technical colleges is in crisis because of lack of funding by the state.

Faculty, staff and students at South Seattle College, Seattle Central College and North Seattle College are participating in walkouts on their campuses from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday.

They say state funding has dropped, causing tuition to rise to pay for the gap.

They’re pushing for new statewide legislation that would fully fund community and technical colleges because of the state legislature’s failure to adequately fund programs, salaries and student support, according to South Seattle College.

With current budget proposals, the Seattle Colleges are facing a $2 million shortfall next year that will force them to make reductions.

Since 2013, the legislature has covered only 65 percent of salary for staff pay increases they approved, forcing the colleges to cover the remaining 35 percent.

"The response is people saying they are for education, but there's no money. But if they want higher education, they need to fund it,” Chris Conley, faculty senate president of Seattle Central College said.

They've also been rallying in Olympia, asking for the passage of House Bill 1300, that would provide more money for technical and community colleges by taking money from the state's general fund.

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