Tacoma, Wash.-- Washington State schools could lose nearly $40 million in federal funds after state lawmakers voted down including test scores in teacher evaluations earlier this year. Across the state, school districts are starting to see what that could mean specifically for them. In Tacoma, the potential cuts could be hurting the district's youngest students.
The students attending one of the six preschools offered by Tacoma Schools has been made possible through federal funding, a waiver from No Child Left Behind.
"First I should say that we chose to spend that 1.8 million dollars on two key components, one is 6 new preschools in the district to reach our neediest students," said Tacoma Schools Public Information Director Dan Voelpel.
That waiver is now in jeopardy after legislators voted down including test scores to teacher evaluations, a federal government request in order for the state to retain it. The cuts could affect six preschools, 12 classes, and 216 students in Tacoma alone.
The loss could also mean jobs belonging to those like preschool teacher Sara Goble are at risk.
"It does make me nervous about my job, but first and foremost I'm really worried about my students that would be missing out because I know I already have enrollment for next year," said Goble.
Tacoma Schools are also looking at other options, but with a potential hit of nearly $2 million and a budget due before the next school year, they're running out of time.
"Because that's where our discretionary funding goes to these preschools, that's where we are looking first, but we know that they are doing dramatically important things for kids," said Voelpel. "It's a complicated formula, but we have a budget cycle to match, and if we don't plan now we'd be in a world of hurt later."
Washington State School Districts expect that the waiver is gone, though representatives say it has yet to hear from the federal Department of Education on what it needs to do next.