Issaquah School District puts laid off teachers on recall list

June 3, 2011

With the approval of the state biennial budget, the Renton and Issaquah school districts are in a budget crunch.

Class sizes will not increase in the Issaquah district next year, and although the Renton district has not yet determined whether it will need to increase class sizes, officials said they hope not to.

Laying off teachers is also an option, but Renton district spokesman Randy Matheson said it is one district officials hope to avoid.

“Our intent is not to do either of those things,” Matheson said.

He said district officials will need to discuss the situation with its unionized employees. Alternatives to cutting pay could include reducing the money the district stows away in its emergency savings or leaving open positions unfilled.

“We’ve got some things to come to the table with, but we’ve got to have those discussions,” Matheson said.

The state Legislature approved the budget May 24.

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Renton schools try to figure out budget cuts

March 4, 2011

In the wake of the state Legislature’s December cuts to the 2010-2011 school year budget and Gov. Chris Gregoire’s proposed budget for the coming years, the Renton School District has turned to parents, students and members of the community for help.

District officials held three meetings in January to discuss budget priorities, including one at Hazen High School on Jan. 27.

The Legislature’s cuts snatched $850,000 from the district mid-year, and Gregoire’s proposed budget — which aims to address a $4.6 billion shortfall — calls for $2.4 million in additional cuts for the 2011-2012 school year.

“For next year, it’s devastating,” Renton Superintendent Mary Alice Heuschel said. “We’re now cutting into our future, and it’s irresponsible. We’re at the point where there’s not much left.”

The district cut $17.9 million from its budgets from 2007-2010.

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State budget ideas are just starting

February 4, 2011

Gov. Chris Gregoire has presented a long list of possible cuts for Washington to balance a $37 billion, two-year budget. Legislators convened this week to begin sorting the ideas and adding their own.

All of the governor’s ideas have merit, some more than others:

  • Gregoire and the state employees’ unions have agreed to take a five-hour-per-month furlough, reducing pay by 3 percent. It’s not enough. The goal should be 5 percent.
  • The idea of creating a new ferry district may get the tax-supported transportation monkey off the state’s back, but it only creates another level of government and taxation. We can’t imagine the voters supporting this one.
  • Combining all of the many authorities that oversee education from early childhood through universities is an idea worth pursuing for the sake of a better education system, but it isn’t likely to be done this year. Can the idea receive further study without an added expense?
  • Other department combinations have been suggested for efficiency and reduced overhead. We like it, but we hope the Legislature will still budget by existing departments to give direction as to its preferences in spending.
  • We’ve come to expect the new state Route 520 bridge to be tolled. We’re glad the federal government has agreed for the state to toll the Interstate 90 bridge as well. The state should, in turn, create a lesser toll for both I-90 and state Route 520 — only until the new bridge is paid for. We fear the congestion on interstates 90 and 405 that will result from commuters seeking to avoid the toll on one.
  • Eliminating state support for programs for children, the disabled and mental-health patients is not acceptable. Those most vulnerable will only cause added costs in other areas if they are not cared for. Pay now or pay later? That is the question.
  • It may take a tax increase to make things better. The voters pulled back the tax on candy and bottled water, and the governor is committed to no new taxes. But let’s get real, people: We need to pay taxes if we want services. The biggest stumbling block will be whether the two parties are willing to combine forces for the two-thirds majority vote needed to approve any tax increase.

Renton School District to host budget meeting Thursday night at Hazen

January 27, 2011

NEW — 11 a.m. Jan. 27, 2011

Officials from the Renton School District will host a meeting from 6:30-8 p.m. Jan. 27 at Hazen High School, 1101 Hoquiam Ave N.E., Renton, to gather input regarding budget priorities.

In December, lawmakers cut $850,000 from the district’s 2010-2011 budget. Also, Gov. Chris Gregoire’s proposed 2011-2013 budget calls for more extensive cuts during the next two school years.

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Issaquah schools could lose $3 million in state budget cuts

January 7, 2011

The Issaquah School District is slated to lose $3.17 million in the proposed budget Gov. Chris Gregoire released Dec. 15.

The Renton School District has not yet calculated how the proposed state budget would affect its budget, spokesman Randy Matheson said.

The 2011-13 proposed state budget aims to address a $4.6 billion shortfall.

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