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September 8, 2014 at 1:44 PM

Seattle mayor’s office unveils budget details for proposed education department

Remember last week, when Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said he wanted to create a new Department of Education and Early Learning? Murray, who has his eye on November ballot measures aimed at providing prekindergarten education to needy families, offered few details at the time.

But his office Monday morning presented a fuller picture of his proposal to the City Council.

Last week, Murray’s office said the new department would house 38 employees, nine of them new, would manage an annual budget of $48.6 million, including about $30 million a year in Families and Education Levy money, and would require just $610,000 in new spending.

It said the department would bring together services currently run by different branches of city government and would tack on some additional services. Most of the existing services are currently provided by the Office of Education, which is part of the Department for Neighborhoods, and the Human Services Department.

The proposed budget doesn’t include potential funding from the four-year, $58 million pre-k levy that Murray and the council are asking voters to approve later this fall. Nor does it account for a competing pre-k ballot measure backed by several labor unions.

The department, officials said Monday, would consist of four divisions: a director’s office with a proposed 2015 budget of $23.6 million and about 12 employees, an early learning division with $18.1 million and 20 employees, a finance and administration division with $1 million and six employees and a Seattle Youth Violence Prevention division with $5.6 million 4 1/2 employees.

The numbers presented Monday differ ever-so-slightly from the figures made available last week. Murray’s office is now asking for eight new positions, not nine, and the new department’s overall annual budget would be $48.5 million, not $48.6 million.

Just $1.5 million of the $31.9 million in levy money would be spent on administrative costs as opposed to programming, officials told Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, who noted that voters approved the levy with the expectation that the bulk of the funding would be funneled to students and schools.

Comments | More in Education, General news, Government | Topics: budget, Mayor Ed Murray, Seattle Public Schools

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