I am a parent with children in the Olympia School District writing to express my concerns about the potential $6.6 million budget deficit facing the district as a result of the McCleary decision budget proposal. The proposed budget will result in a deficit that will be extremely detrimental to the quality of education in our district. The following problems need to be addressed and resolved in the budget:
1. Enact regionalization funding for Olympia. Regional cost-of-living increase at 0 percent for Olympia while neighboring districts receive 6 percent is unsubstantiated by housing cost data and is divisive within a close-knit community.
2. Fund the experience factor. As is the case with most professions, teachers with more experience and relevant education make more money than less experienced teachers. The new K-12 funding system will penalize districts with more experienced teachers. Under the new funding formula there is a direct pressure to hire the cheapest teacher, not the most qualified. This new funding strategy is wrong for children and teachers.
3. Fully fund special education. School districts have been paying for special education services out of local funds for decades, even though this is supposed to be a program fully funded by the state. The new funding formula continues to rely on local funds, thus making it impossible to provide the full services children with special needs require to achieve academic success.
The state legislators need to resolve these problems to maintain a quality education for our children.