Understanding the Dire State of SPS' 2017-2018 Budget
Here's some information on what the levy cliff is and what you can do to try to head it off before our district falls off that cliff.
I do note that I'm not sure how much of the $71-74M deficit projected by staff is due to the levy cliff. All? Part? If so, how much? I'll have to ask.
From John Freeman at the Washington's Paramount Duty Facebook page (editor's note - I rearranged some of the information):
The levy cliff will reduce the total amount of money school districts can collect from levies on local property values.
For Seattle, the total effect of this may amount to more than $70 million, approximately 10% of the district's budget.
The levy cliff will occur on January 1, 2018, when the State’s temporary increase in the levy lid and Local Effort Assistance (levy equalization) for local school districts expires.
The temporary levy lid lift allowed many school districts to raise up to 28% of the total the district received from state and federal allocations. The school districts were able to generate this 28% from local levy money. Likewise, the state funding for levy equalization was raised by 2%.
On January 1, 2018, when the temporary levy lid and levy equalization both expire, school districts will be capped at generating only 24% from the local levy authority. School districts that currently collect more than 24% in levies will have their budgets decreased.
What you can do
Did you know the Governor and legislators hear very little about public education? It's true! As we get closer to the legislative session, it's really important to build up some heat on folks to get them motivated to effectively address Washington's school funding crisis.
The governor can be emailed here: https://fortress.wa.gov/es/governor/
You can find other legislative folks here https://app.leg.wa.gov/MemberEmail/or use the district finder http://app.leg.wa.gov/districtfinder/
SAMPLE MESSAGE: Please write or call your current or newly elected legislators and Governor Inslee with this request (you may use this language or develop your own):
I write to urge you to take two actions as soon as the 2017 legislative session convenes:
(1) fully fund public education with new progressive revenue and
(2) delay the levy cliff to January 1, 2019.
The hard reality is that even if the Legislature enacts legislation by the end of the 2017 legislative session, by allowing the State to meet its obligations to amply fund basic education by September 1, 2018, the levy cliff means that many school districts’ budgets will be reduced by millions of dollars from January 1, 2018 until September 1, 2018.
Overall, the levy cliff threatens about $500 million per year in K-12 funding in Washington’s 295 school districts.
In many districts, these cuts will likely require numerous educator and staff layoffs. The levy cliff is already affecting school districts because districts budget based on the school year, and not on the calendar year. Districts are already preparing their 2017/18 school year budgets.
Of course, any local levy revenues and levy equalization amounts do not suffice; the State must fully fund public schools. Washington's constitution requires the State to amply fund basic education with dependable and regular State tax sources.
But the State cannot take the patient (the public school system) off life support (the local levies) before the new heart (regular and dependable State tax sources) is available for surgery.Seattle Schools Community Forum: Understanding the Dire State of SPS' 2017-2018 Budget: