The largest School District in the state, and some say the one with the most issues, is now faced with possibly closing elementary schools due to budget shortfalls.

  Up to 20 elementary schools could be slated to close by the 2025-2026 school year

 According to KUOW (PBS) online, the specific list of schools that might close has not been determined or finalized but would result in students being reassigned to other locations.

SDS officials say the primary issue is an ongoing revenue shortfall, which is now looking like $105 million for next year, and other shortfalls following.

Probably the biggest driver of the shortfall is the steady loss of students since COVID. SDS says overall they have lost about 5,000 for various reasons. Some opted for home schooling, others chose private schools, and others (especially high school students) simply left the system and did not return.

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Federal education funding is based on enrollment figures, and SDS says the student loss amounts to about $81 million. SDS has just over 51,000 total students, and 109 schools, of which 70 are elementary. If they do close 20 of them, those students will go to others, presumably as close to their homes as possible.

Some of the other possible cost-cutting measures could include: (according to KUOW)

  • Changing school start times;
  • Cutting central office staffing;
  • Cutting school staff;
  • Changes to transportation;
  • Program adjustments and restructuring;
  • And seeking philanthropic donations; among others.

The SDS has already made noticeable cuts in staffing, programs, and other areas. Another revenue-generating option would be the requirement for students to pay to play their HS sports, which school officials say could raise at least $1 million annually.

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