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Northshore School District sends a message

  • Written by Don Mann
Following its extended special session in Olympia last week, the Washington State Legislature adopted its operating budget for 2011, and to no one’s surprise the news was not good, particularly for education.

Regarding the Northshore School District, one of the state’s very finest, the bottom line is this: The district is looking at a nearly $3-million shortfall in state funds for 2011 and is doing its very best to stem the tide.

"It could have been a lot worse," NSD Superintendent Larry Francois said of the zero-sum game he’s required to play in manipulating the depleted funding.

"But we’re trying to take a positive stance and move forward the very best way we can," Francois said.

Lost in the administrative shuffle is the last remaining Learning Improvement Day for teachers, class size reduction and enhanced staffing at the lower levels.

To the greatest extent possible, Francois said, the district has maintained its current class-size ratios, continued to support curriculum updates and has minimized the budget impacts on students in the classroom.

Yet there’s a "game-changer," Francois said.

During the legislative session, a new law was passed to allow more local levy support. The law will permit school boards to run a supplemental levy to gain further funds in its communities.

In Northshore’s case, a levy was narrowly approved by voters only two months ago in February, and Francois is sensitive in even pitching the idea out there to the community at large in such short notice.

"Our community has been incredibly generous in their response to provide for excellence in education for our kids," he said. "We realize that times are tough economically for our families. We really do."

The one thing he wanted to stress, he said, was the additional levy would not enhance what was already in place, but would simply maintain the status quo from 2011 through 2014.

To that end, the district is hosting three budget workshops this week to get the word out and seek response — April 20 at the Bothell High School commons; April 21 at the Inglemoor High School cafeteria and April 22 at the Woodinville High School commons.

Each workshop begins at 6 p.m and lasts for about two hours.

"We really just want to get the message out there and see how our people respond. We need their input," Francois said.

People can share their feedback by attending one of the April budget workshops or by completing the online survey at www.nsd.org.

 

Budget workshops

• April 20: Bothell High School

• April 21: Inglemoor High School

• April 22: Woodinville High School

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