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October 27, 2011 at 3:31 PM

School officials: Governor's budget proposal "devastating"

Education programs bore the brunt of the budget proposal released by Gov. Chris Gregoire today, with more than half a billion dollars in suggested cuts divvied up between early learning ($5 million), K-12 education ($365 million) and higher education ($174 million).

Among the specific cuts, Gregoire proposed reducing state levy equalization payments by 50 percent (saving $150 million), increasing class size by two students in grades 4-12 (saving $137 million) and reducing annual bonuses for national board certified teachers (saving $8 million).

For schools officials who already believe the state Legislature is failing in its constitutional obligation to fully fund basic education, the proposed cuts were hard to swallow.

Randy Dorn, the superintendent of the Office of Public Instruction, released a blunt statement shortly after Gregoire announced the proposal.

“I understand why the governor must propose cuts and that this is just the beginning of the conversation, but these cuts can’t happen,” he said.

In Seattle, officials who had braced for cuts were surprised by just how bad the news was.

School Board President Steve Sundquist called the proposal “devastating.”

“We’ve made cuts now three years running,” he said. “It’s getting increasingly hard to keep those cuts from impacting our students, so I’m extraordinarily worried.”

Comments | More in Education, Government | Topics: budget, education, Gregoire

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