School superintendents from Western Washington are asking lawmakers to shorten the school year to save money.
Thirty-five superintendents from the Northwest Education Service District, signed a letter in September asking lawmakers to reduce the number of days students are required to be in school rather than reducing levy equalization funding as recommended by the Governor.
The NWESD represents districts from Island, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom Counties.
A reduced school year was one of the budget cutting options offered by the Office of Financial Management last month, though was not included in a list of proposals sent by the Governor to lawmakers.
A blog by the Washington Policy Center suggests the proposal is tantamount to the superintendents asking that children be hurt in order to protect adult paychecks.
President Barack Obama frequently references international comparisons showing the U.S. at a deficit when it comes to education. In the most recent reading and math tests The U.S. ranked 17th in reading, 31st in math. China ranked first in both categories followed by Korea (reading) and Shanghai (math). A Poll by the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) shows American children already have the shortest school year when compared to those countries. European children attend school an average of 195 days a year; students in most Asian nations attend school for 200 days per year.
Dr. Jerry Jenkins, Superintendent of the NWESD, says school district leaders abhor the idea of reducing the school year. They know the proposal isn't in the best interest of Washington's children, but, he says, its an issue of equity. Jenkins says students who have the misfortune of being born into families of poverty or who live in property poor districts shouldn't be subjected to fewer opportunities in the classroom, which would be the result of reductions in levy equalization monies. Levy monies from the state, Jenkins says, help make up for some of the inequity between rich and poor district.
Lawmakers meet later this month in special session to decide which programs, if any, will be cut in order to compensate for a projected 2-billion dollar budget deficit.