Roughly half of Washington’s 295 school districts may have to consider taking out millions of dollars worth of credit in order to meet payroll demands, school officials said Saturday.
The decisions are tied to state lawmakers failing to finish a budget during their first special session, and the potential of a government shutdown later in the summer.
“It’s like getting your check automatically deposited to your bank account,” explained South Kitsap School Board President Keith Garton, “The check doesn’t show up, you can’t pay your bills.”
According to Garton, the check is the apportionment of state funding each school district gets to pay teachers and other staff as well as take care of bills.
For districts without sufficient cash reserves, any hold up in that state funding means opening a line of credit to make up the difference.
“If that money doesn’t come through,” Garton said, “We’re going to have to borrow it.”
South Kitsap is in a particularly tough budget situation. The district has already decided to layoff around 25 teachers. Students have joined with educators protesting the move, while the teacher’s union recently passed a vote of no-confidence against the district’s finance officer.
While those issues deal with the future, Garton said the more immediate concern is the present.
“I know two lawmakers really well,” he commented, “I’ve contacted them to say, ‘what are you doing?’ They say, ‘we’re working on it.’”
Gov. Jay Inslee has called for the second special session to start Wednesday morning.