At a budget briefing this morning, Seattle Public Schools announced that state budget cuts to public education has forced the district to ask employees to take furlough days for the first time in the history of the school district.

- Our non-represented Central Office staff will take between 2 and 4 days for the 2011-2012 year.
- Management-level employees will be asked to take 4 days, and non-management employees, 2 days.
- Creating these furloughs means we can prioritize direct funding in the classroom.

In Nov. 2010, the district estimated a $35 million budget shortfall and implemented a "non-essential hiring and spending" freeze. In March the district cut 90 positions from the central office, reducing central administration from 9 to less than 6 percent of the overall budget, which SPS says is at par with other Puget Sound-area schools.

Further cuts by the state legislature resulted in SPS's budget shortfall rising to $45.5 million. Today the Seattle School Board is scheduled to vote on the 2011-2012 budget of $577.7 million. The district's $45.5 million budget cuts for the new school year are in addition to the $34 million made in 2009-2010 and the $31 million made in 2010-2011.

A budget memo from SPS shows that the furloughs are limited to administrative and management staff. When I asked SPS spokesperson Teresa Wippel whether any teachers are expected to take furloughs, she said the "district is still negotiating with the Seattle teachers union, so no news on that yet."