Spokane Schools on the verge of COVID-19 related financial emergency

Spokane Public Schools
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SPOKANE, Wash. — Facing a budget shortfall due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Spokane Public Schools will vote Wednesday on a financial emergency for the district.

The school board has a special meeting scheduled Wednesday night at 5:30 p.m. to discuss the matter, before bringing it to a vote at the regular meeting later that evening.

The school board documents estimate the state will lose between $5 billion and $8 billion because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That number would exceed the state’s rainy day fund by $3 billion. Much of that loss comes from a dramatic reduction in sales tax revenue.

Their forecast has the district making $1.8 million less than anticipated for the month of March. That comes from a decrease in revenue from childcare and meals, a decrease in property taxes and a decrease in facility rentals. On the inverse, the district saved money in hours for substitute teachers, overtime and extra hours, a decrease in transportation costs and a decrease in utilities.

This does not take into account April, which was the first full month of closures.

Under a proposed resolution, the district would: declare a financial emergency, implement a hiring freeze, work on “targeted reduction of current staffing levels”, suspend union workload provisions and eliminate some educational programs and services.

According to the resolution, “a general uncertainty exists regarding the projected budget for the 2020-2021 school year.”

The resolution says suspending the workload provision of the collective bargaining agreement and implementing those measures would save the district $7.7 million.

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