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Originally published March 31, 2009 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 16, 2009 at 11:15 AM

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Deep cuts in K-12 education

The Senate's budget proposal would make deep cuts in K-12 education but would soften the impact — at least in the short term — with federal stimulus dollars.

Seattle Times education reporter

The Senate's budget proposal would make deep cuts in K-12 education but would soften the impact — at least in the short term — with federal stimulus dollars.

Teachers' cost-of-living raises that voters approved in 2000? Gone for two years.

Initiative 728, also approved that year, which gives districts money to reduce class sizes? Reduced by 93 percent.

Assistance for property-poor districts that have trouble raising local money for schools? Slashed 75 percent.

Federal stimulus money, however, would help districts restore some of those cuts.

Senate leaders say their proposal would eliminate roughly 2.5 to 3.5 percent of what school districts now receive from the state.

Without the stimulus money, the cuts would total about 11 percent.

Still, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction estimates that districts would lose about $258 million for the 2009-10 school year, the equivalent of about 3,000 teaching jobs.

Randy Dorn, superintendent of public instruction, called the Senate's proposals unconscionable.

"At a time when the federal government is urging us to move forward, this budget forces us three steps backward," he said in a prepared statement.

Mary Lindquist, president of the Washington Education Association, said the Senate's budget would make Washington's already overcrowded classrooms even more crowded.

School districts are working to figure out how the Senate proposal would affect their budgets.

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Seattle Public Schools would lose $20 million from the proposed cuts in Initiative 728 alone but doesn't know how that would be offset by stimulus dollars.

But it's clear that the district would face even more cuts than expected, spokeswoman Bridgett Chandler said.

Linda Shaw: 206-464-2359 or lshaw@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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