Seattle schools freeze hiring, spending as deficit looms

Mar 14, 2013

Seattle’s school district has frozen hiring and spending in anticipation of a budget shortfall next year. But since officials say the change won't affect actual classroom resources or essential personnel, you might say the district has put hiring and spending in the fridge.

Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance Finance Chief Duggan Harman said administrators will have plenty of discretion over what gets funded, but the bar will be pretty high.

“Clearly if a teacher resigns we will fill that position. If a budget analyst resigns in central office, though, we won’t,” he said.

He said the cutbacks will save about $2.5 million this year, which the district will put toward next year’s $18 million deficit. This is the third consecutive year in which Seattle Public Schools has clamped down on hiring and spending at some point.

Harman says the district held off for a while this year, hoping the state Legislature would increase funding.

“But with no clear direction coming out of the Legislature, we thought this was the wise thing to do at this time,” he said.

Last year the Washington Supreme Court ruled the state constitution requires lawmakers to boost money for schools. But so far, there has been little agreement on how much money is needed and how the state would pay for it.