State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn, who sparred with Governor Christine Gregoire a few weeks ago over her proposal to appoint a new state schools secretary, will testify on the capital budget today, saying that the governor's proposed cuts will threaten future school construction projects.
The testimony to the Senate Ways and Means Committee will be broadcast live starting 3:30 p.m.
According to Dorn, the 2011-2013 proposed capital budget will threaten school construction projects for the first time in a decade, resulting in "unsafe or overcrowded classes."
This can't be good news for the Seattle school district, which is already suffering from overcrowded classrooms.
One of Dorn's priorities is to keep capital funding at pace with inflation. “OSPI’s budget calls for about $950 million for the next two years,” Dorn said in a statement released right before the scheduled testimony. “The proposed budget is only $500 million. That difference means fewer new buildings and fewer upgrades to buildings that are in serious need of repair. Our students shouldn’t have to be in classrooms where the walls are crumbling or the air quality is unhealthy.”
Dorn is specifically concerned about the School Construction Assistance Program, which helps school districts by providing them with state funding for new construction and modernization. These state funds are used in addition to the money raised by local districts and have been in place since 1998. “The Governor’s proposal would cut about $180 million from what we need to maintain SCAP at its current level," Dorn said. Many capital projects rely on state funding to complete projects that voters approved. If the cuts occur, we’ll have to go back to our priority system. And that means some projects won’t get finished. And others won’t even get started.”