Budget Process 2012 Update Nov. 2, 2011

A Message from Superintendent Greg Baker
Last Updated: Nov. 2, 2011

Dear Families,

I wanted to keep you updated as we learn more about the budget outlook for the remainder of this school year and 2012-13.

Last week, the state’s Office of Financial Management published these Budget Reduction Alternatives, which included possible ideas for additional cuts for the Legislature to consider yet this school year, as well as for next year. The list of ideas includes cuts in numerous areas of the state budget, including K-12 education. Legislators will begin meeting in special session at the end of this month.

Some of the state’s proposed ideas are difficult to imagine, such as eliminating school transportation or shortening the school year by one week and furloughing employees. Other proposed ideas are ones that our district has already experienced, such as less funding to pay salaries and employ staff, resulting in fewer employees and higher class sizes.

We will need to continue to reflect this school year as we go through our Budget Development Process on what we can do without moving backward and how we can become even more efficient by working together across our schools to share and stretch limited resources. It will be important to remain focused on our priorities that emerged last year from our staff, families and community – One Schoolhouse, Early Childhood, Secondary Innovation & Flexibility, and System Support for Teaching & Learning. For example, I spent last Friday with national and state leaders who validated the work we are doing in our schools with full-time kindergarten and early childhood. Their message was that early childhood education is the best investment in our local and state economy that we can make, especially in hard economic times.

As we work together throughout our budget process this year, we must remain hopeful and not lose sight of the wonderful work happening in our schools for children. Please take a moment to read our Inside Schools newsletter that we will be distributing to our community next week. We’re also sharing a news story today about Bellingham Public Schools being nationally honored by the College Board for our One Schoolhouse work around equity for simultaneously increasing our high school students’ access to Advanced Placement (AP) coursework while maintaining rigor or increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher on AP exams. And, we have many newsmakers to share this week about students and staff from Bellingham, Sehome and Squalicum high schools, Shuksan Middle School and the District Office who recently received regional and national recognition. Congratulations to all!

I will keep you informed as we learn more about the state budget and continue down the road together of further reductions from our state and federal government. Meanwhile, join me in recognizing our schools, and remaining hopeful that we will endure these tough times together and that the future will get brighter soon.

Thank you,

Greg Baker

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