Spokane Schools weighs options in preparation for decreased funding due to COVID-19

SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane School Board members don’t have a crystal ball, but there are signs that state and local funding could decrease due to COVID-19. 

This, as the District is already heading into the summer with a $7.9 million deficit. 

According to school board documents, the State of Washington is expected to lose between $5-8 billion in the COVID-19 response. That’s $3 billion more than the state’s rainy day fund. 

Board members are also concerned there will be less local revenue coming in if property values drop. With many businesses closed, sales tax revenue will likely be down, too. 

The District is required to send layoff notices by mid-May. However, Associate Superintendent Dr. Linda McDerrmott says the District’s priority is to keep current staff by not hiring any new educators. Staffing levels could drop when employees retire. 

A hiring freeze is just one of several options being considered. The District might also cut programs and services, though it’s unclear which ones. 

The District could save up to $7.7 million by suspending the workload provision of teacher contracts – simply put, that would mean no extra pay for extra work. 

If board members declare a financial emergency it would be the third in the last ten years. In 2011, the District laid off 238 employees, 100 were recalled in June. 

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

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