first_imgSouthwest Washington educators face an early mid-term exam: They’re bracing for across-the-board budget cuts ordered by Gov. Chris Gregoire.Spending reductions will impact the school year just begun. It’s not yet clear exactly how, in grades K-12 public schools, at Clark College and at Washington State University Vancouver.One bright spot: The recent “Edu-jobs” bill passed by Congress that should keep K-12 classroom teaching ranks intact through next June.Under Gregoire’s directive, officials are looking at 6.3 percent reductions in many school funds by early 2011— though not for constitutionally mandated, per-pupil K-12 basic education state dollars.Actually, the target is 10 percent in many cases, anticipating a further drop in state tax revenues when the next forecast comes in November.Cuts will target many grant programs, both those managed directly by districts and through Educational Service District 112, said Tim Merlino, budget director for the regional school agency. The state’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction will trim its own spending by the amount required.But a $26 billion stimulus package voted by Congress comes in time to help K-12 districts navigate thin ice this school year.About $205 million from the federal bill is earmarked for Washington schools. Each should receive $210 per student, Merlino said.“We’re going to collect all the federal money up front,” he said. The aid should protect classroom employee ranks “all the way through 2010-11,” he said.That’s good, because Olympia must dial down its spending spigot by next spring, once lawmakers adopt a supplemental budget to cover all state programs through June 30.last_img

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