Seattle Public Schools initiates hiring and spending freeze to deal with budget shortfall

Facing an $18 million budget shortfall for the 2013-14 school year and with State legislative funding relief uncertain, Seattle Public schools is implementing a non-critical hiring and spending freeze until further notice.

According to a press release the freeze is expected to save at least $2.5 million, which can be carried over to assist in building a balanced 2013-14 budget. The District will prioritize activities that contribute to accelerating academic progress for all students, while at the same time being responsive to the significant financial issues that both the school district and the State face.

The District is currently developing for the next school year the general operating fund budget, which will be approved by the School Board in July.

In the past five years, Seattle Public Schools has closed combined shortfalls of more than $120 million. During this time, funds have been prioritized for the classroom and the majority of reductions have come from central office. The percentage spent on central administration has dropped from more than 9 percent to less than 6 percent of the total budget. While dramatic enrollment growth has increased the overall budget amount, multiple years of state and federal funding reductions have left the district with a shortfall each year, which has resulted in the elimination of jobs, programs and materials.

“We know these measures impact our employees, and we appreciate everyone’s understanding of the need to take this action,” said Duggan Harman, Assistant Superintendent of Business & Finance. “We are hopeful that the legislature follows the recent Supreme Court order and funds the K-12 increases it has previously committed to. If this happens, the path to a balanced budget becomes clearer.”

Critical positions that are needed for either safety or classroom instruction are excluded from this freeze.

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