School district faces potential reduction in state funding

Election season is finished.

But its impact on school district’s throughout the state remains to be determined.

Lawmakers face a $4.8 billion shortfall when they meet in January to prepare the next two-year budget.

One repercussion for the South Kitsap School District, according to board president Kathryn Simpson, could be the loss of $2 million in levy equalization funding.

Levy equalization has been used in the state to create a balance between property-poor districts with their more affluent peers.

Couple that potential loss with leaders in the House and Senate agreeing to raise levy lids from 24 to 28 percent in March, and Simpson sees a problem. SKSD district assistant superintendent for business and support Terri Patton said the district collects around 20 percent from its taxpayers.

“I think it was a real travesty that they passed it,” she said. “It will continue to create a have-and-have-not situation. We have got to find a way in this state so every child — whether they’re in Chewelah, Port Orchard or Bellevue — has an equal opportunity.”

Simpson reiterated her and the board’s desire to refrain from asking taxpayers for more money.

“It’s not a conversation that I would like to ask for from our local taxpayers,” she said. “It’s the state’s responsibility to fund basic education.”

Superior Court Judge John Erlick agreed with that sentiment in February when he ruled the state of Washington is not fulfilling its constitutional duty to fully pay for basic public education. His decision is being appealed.

Patton said SKSD’s budget situation will remain “challenging” for the upcoming year. She said the budget process for next year recently started and she had few details on figures for a potential deficit. SKSD has a budget shortfall of $5.8 million for this school year.

• East Port Orchard Elementary School recently was named a “School of Distinction” by the Center for Educational Effectiveness and Phi Delta Kappa’s Washington state chapter. EPO was one of 94 schools within the state to be awarded that honor and will receive the Learning Improvement Award at 6 p.m. Dec. 1.

• South Kitsap High School will host a pair of upcoming events. The first runs from tonight through Sunday and again Nov. 19-21 when the school’s theater department puts on “A Christmas Carol” production.

The show runs at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and matinees start at 2 p.m. Sunday.

The school also invites juniors, seniors and their parents to its “It’s Your Future Fair” from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Contact the school’s career center at 874-5686 for more information.

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