School superintendent urges legislators to pass budget

Second special session will cost Vancouver estimated $78,000

By Susan Parrish, Columbian education reporter

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Steven Webb's letter to legislators

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If state legislators don't pass an operating budget within the next week, their failure to do so will cost Vancouver Public Schools an estimated $78,000, the equivalent of one full-time teacher, said Steven Webb, the district's superintendent.

In a June 13 letter, Webb urged legislators to provide the state budget, and explained that their failure to do so is preventing 295 districts throughout the state from deploying staff, building master schedules, assigning students to classes and more. The last work day for principals is June 28. If district employees responsible for budgeting and scheduling tasks have to be called back to work, it will cost his district and others across the state, Webb said.

"There doesn't seem to be a sense of urgency in Olympia to complete the budget," Webb said on Friday. "I think the public has a right to know that not only are their tax dollars being spent to extend the special session into a second overtime, but there will be additive local costs incurred because the legislature can't get across the finish line. Those resources ought to be spent on serving children in our schools."

Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn wrote a June 7 letter to legislators that said: "...if a budget does not pass by June 30th, my office will not have the appropriation authority to fulfill the payment obligations to school district or even pay the staff needed to carry out this work."

Dorn said that two-thirds of school district's general funds are covered by state funding. He added that failure to pass a budget will prevent districts from hiring new staff, administer programs and be prepared when school begins in the fall.