PORT ORCHARD — School employees across the state could pay the price if the legislature doesn’t pass a budget.
Their July and August paychecks could be held up and the news is even worse for those in South Kitsap where layoffs are already coming. There’s even talk of a potential strike.
“We are going to have challenges making payroll,” said South Kitsap School District Interim Superintendent Beverly Cheney. “We will have to indeed borrow funds to make payroll in July.”
“There’s about over 110 school districts that don’t have the cash reserves to cover their payroll,” said Randy Dorn, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. “That becomes a major issue.”
It’s all because lawmakers in Olympia haven’t been able to agree on a budget and the July 1st deadline is only weeks away.
“Basically it takes us about $6.2Million to make payroll each month, and at this point in time we’ve got about half of that in cash flow,” said Cheney.
But South Kitsap is facing even bigger problems. The district said it needs to cut 61 teaching positions to stay in the black.
It’s a double whammy for educators in the west sound.
“It’s very disheartening because I see these people that work so hard and I’m thinking, don’t these people have a clue how hard you work?” said school Volunteer Sandi McDonald.
McDonald volunteers at several schools in South Kitsap and she sees the frustration all around.
“They’re getting kicked in the gizzard,” said McDonald. “There’s nothing they can do about it.”
The union says enough is enough – they held a “no-confidence” vote against the district’s chief financial officer and have said they don’t believe teachers need to lose their jobs to balance the books.
But while everyone gets ready for summer break, there’s a lot of uncertainty about what happens next.
And the Dorn isn’t sure if there’s anything he can do to make sure everybody gets paid next month.
“We have a lot of questions on whether we have the authority to appropriate the money,” said Dorn.
The South Kitsap Education Association will either ratify a new contract with the district or consider a strike vote at their August 26th meeting.
The district says it’s confident it won’t come to a strike but if no one’s getting paid at that point, it’s hard to say which way it’ll go.