Seattle Public Schools

Budget Shortfall 2022-23

Summary: Without new revenue from the state or an increase to our levy collection authority, we need to reduce our expenses.

Why does SPS expect a budget shortfall for 2022-23? 

In 2018, the state legislature changed the K-12 public education funding formula to create more equity across districts. Investments from the state included funding to reduce K-3 class size, teacher salaries, and provide additional counselors. These funding formula changes disproportionately impacted districts and, at the same time, limited the amount of local levy funding each district can collect.

Historically, our district’s levy collection amount increased as property values increased. This is no longer the case. Our past levy authority helped us fill the gap between state funding and what it costs to run an urban district.

The state’s education funding formula continues to be decades behind in key areas. The formula doesn’t provide funding for the full cost of many staff including school leaders, nurses, social workers, and central office. For example, we continue to be funded for 9 nurses for our 51,000 students; we pay for an additional 59 using levy funds and other grants.

Special Education also continues to be underfunded statewide. The state allocation for Special Education, including Special Education transportation, falls short of what our students need and what our families expect. We supplemented the state’s special education allocation by $98 million last school year using levy funds.

The district receives minimal support for other basic district functions such as curriculum, professional development, safety and security, facilities and maintenance, IT, and student technology. These foundational school supports must be paid for by our local levies.

As the cost of these supports go up and levy collection of $3,290 per student only increases annually by a cost of living factor, our budget gap will grow.

For the past couple years, the district has had budget reserves to make up the gap. This reserve is close to expiring. Without new revenue from the state or an increase to our levy collection authority, we need to reduce our expenses. Eighty-five percent of district expenses are staff.

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