Washington (AP) Washington schools are facing budget shortages and federal funding cuts that could put the state in the hole for the first time in decades.
Schools could lose up to $30 million in federal funding and $8 million in state aid in 2019, the Washington Department of Education announced Wednesday.
The funding shortfall will hurt students and families as more districts seek to find new funding, which is already limited due to a lack of available federal money, the department said.
The $1.2 billion budget shortfall is $2.8 billion lower than the $2 billion shortfall in the state’s 2016-17 budget, and is the smallest for the next 15 years, the state said.
Statewide, schools will lose more than $1 billion in state support, which includes funding for the salaries of more than 4,000 school employees, according to the state Department of Appropriations.
Washington state’s public school funding shortfall is the largest since the 1990s.
The state’s $3.2-billion budget shortfall will be a new record for the state, which has already lost $8.7 billion since 2010, according the Washington Education Association.
Washington schools will be facing the largest cut in state funding since 2009.
The department said schools will receive a smaller state grant this year than last because the Legislature approved a $3-billion state bond issue in January, which the state uses to fund public schools.
State law allows schools to seek a $10-per-student bond to raise money to pay for the 2018-19 school year.
The Department of Finance said that if the Legislature and governor approve the bond, schools in the District of Columbia and the cities of Seattle and Bellevue would have to raise more than half of their 2018-2019 budgets to meet the funding shortfall.
If they don’t, they would be forced to raise tuition and fees to cover the gap.
The district in Washington is among the state districts facing the biggest budget challenges.
District of Columbia schools will have to take on $3 billion in additional funding, including a $2-million reduction in state grants, in order to meet a funding shortfall this school year, according.
The federal government has given the District $1 million for the 2017-18 school year to pay teachers, aides and counselors to help students cope with the economic crisis.