Cuts to Alternative Learning Programs will hurt our School District

House Budget Proposes Cuts to Alternative Learning Programs

The House recently unveiled their proposed budget cuts. Although many of the cuts are painful and further hinder our school districts ability to provide quality and adequate education to our students, one of the cuts in particular is significant.  The house wants to dramatically cut alternative learning programs, stating that they are basically on-line learning programs anyway and don’t need the other support that brick and mortar buildings in traditional educational programs require.  As you may or may not know, Bayview High School and Whidbey Island Academy are our local alternative education programs and they are located in buildings with teachers and a director! On-line learning is only a portion of their curriculum. If these cuts were approved, it would have a catastrophic effect on these programs here on South Whidbey. Even if you don’t have students that take advantage of these programs, you can appreciate the need for alternatives for some kids and families, and can probably start to imagine what will happen to our future should these kids choose to drop out rather than conform to the traditional education model.

Please contact Senator Mary Margaret Haugen,  State Rep. Barbara Bailey,  Rep. Norma Smith and Governor Chris Gregiore to express your concerns about the ramifications of this particular cut. (clicking on their names will get you to their website to easily email them.) Below is an excerpt from a letter to Senator Haugen from Scott Mauk, our Director of Special Education and Special Programs…

“As a 16 year veteran in alternative education, I can tell you that the proposal to cut ALE funding by proration of the apportionment is not an effective use of dollars. These programs are not all online providers, which I know is a major source of heartburn. However, many of us have “bricks and mortar” programs that would be decimated- we keep graduation rates from circling the drain, among other things. In my distract we would have to cut another $100K from a budget that is already slated for cuts of up to $600 K. This is substantial, and limits our ability to create innovative programming that ALE rules help us do.

I have participated in both parent partnership programs and alternative high schools. I have a sense of the frustration in the legislature with districts abusing the rules. We don’t, and we would suffer tremendously with these unfair cuts. I can tell you that we take efficiency and apportionment very seriously and work hard to not only live by the rules, but to make sure as much of the resource goes to kids as possible. As you can see by my title, as an administrator that means I wear many hats to keep programs alive and classrooms smaller.”

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1 Response to Cuts to Alternative Learning Programs will hurt our School District

  1. Shelly Ackerman says:

    Here is an update from the WA Assoc. for Learning Alternatives:

    On Wednesday, April 13, members of the WALA Board, and representatives from WACOL and WAFOL testified before the Ways and Means Committees in both the House and Senate. The message was simple: “We need to fully fund alternative education programs.” I believe the message was heard and well received.

    Over the course of the next two weeks the Senate will pass it’s budget, then the Senate and House committees will reconcile over 80% of the proposals where there are differences between the two budgets. When that is completed, each will vote on the reconciled 2011-13 Omnibus Apportionment Bill – it will pass and go to the Governor for signature. Once signed, it is law.

    The changes to the budget WALA proposed may or may not be adopted. If they are adopted and ALE receives full funding, it is a win for our students. If they are not and ALE receives full funding, it is a win for our students. The only way ALE students can loose in this situation is if full funding is not budgeted.

    We’ll keep you informed as changes occur.
    Lile Holland
    WALA Executive Director

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