OSD Budget Crisis: What it means

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Fiona Murphy, Reporter

In the next year, the Olympia School District could lose over eight million dollars from the annual budget.  This could have a huge impact on Olympia High. The budget crisis is actually impacted by the Washington Legislature, which just began their 105-day session on January 14, 2019. The session ends on April 28, 2019. Every year, the legislature plays an important role in the creation of the school budget, along with creating Washington’s budget. This isn’t the first time that a school district has had an issue with the legislature and the school budget. In 2012, two families filed a lawsuit against the state of Washington for not following their constitutional obligation to fund a uniform system of education. The court ruled in favor of the two families.

One of the biggest effects that the loss of the eight million dollars from the budget could be the decrease in teachers. In the new levy, the cost of living rates for the Olympia School District will go down significantly. This will mean that teachers might go to other school districts where the cost of living rates are higher. “The biggest overall consequence that will come from the budget crisis is the possible loss of many of our teachers,” says Matt Grant, principal at Olympia High School. “For some reason, this year the cost of living rates went down a huge amount, and that means that teachers might leave our district.”                                                   
Another thing that the state levy will change is the pay for teachers based on how long they have worked at the school. For example, teachers who have worked at the school and been employed at Olympia for a longer period of time will be more expensive to hire and paid more. However, new teachers and staff that have been at Olympia High for a shorter time will be cheaper to hire and paid less. Olympia High School has 22% percent less staff than the state as a whole, and most of the teachers are older ones that have been at Olympia longer. Laurie Dolan, a Washington State Representative, refused to comment on this because, as she said, “I feel that this levy is more of an Olympia School district issue.”

Something else at Olympia High School that will be affected by the new state levy will be the class sizes. From Kindergarten to third grade the state-funded class size will be seventeen. For the fourth to sixth grade, the state-funded class size will be twenty-seven. For seventh to eighth grade, the state-funded class size will be around 29 students. For the ninth to twelfth grade, the average class size will be about 27 students. Because of the class size increases, without the staff mix funding, the Olympia School District will be forced to deploy less staff like librarians, principals, para-educators, nurses, custodians, and counselors in the school.

Overall, the Legislative Levy will really change the Olympia School District. However, there’s still something that can be changed. The state legislature is still in session, and they can still work on the levy and hopefully improve it so the school district doesn’t lose eight million dollars over the next year.