Dorn’s School District Insolvency Bill Heard in Legislature
OLYMPIA — January 31, 2012 — State budget cuts have impacted school districts to the point where a school district becoming insolvent is possibility that must be addressed. Established and agreed-upon procedures for the dissolution of school districts, therefore, must be put in place, staff from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction testified today.
The testimony, in front of the House Education and Appropriations Oversight Committee, was in support of State Superintendent Randy Dorn’s request legislation, House Bill 2617.
The bill creates a financial oversight committee that would be established when a district is financially insolvent. After reviewing the financial state of the district, the committee would issue its recommendations – for example, enhanced financial oversight or dissolution of the district – to the state superintendent. The bill also would create a procedure for the dissolution of a district if that district cannot meet its fiduciary responsibilities.
“This is not a bill that would consolidate districts,” Dorn said. “We certainly don't want any district dissolving. But if it happens, we need clear terms so the process is as smooth as it can be. With continued cuts in school budgets, it’s possible that in the near future some districts could have trouble paying their bills.”
Dorn cited Vader School District, which dissolved in 2007. Additional resources from the state were needed to help with the dissolution process. Some of the details in HB 2617 derive from that experience, Dorn said.
Testifying for the agency today was Shawn Lewis, OSPI chief financial officer. “This bill ensures that students come first,” he said. “As we go through the dissolution process, education services (will) continue to be provided to students and school districts around the state.”
Testifying in support of the bill were Rep. Glenn Anderson; Marie Sullivan, Washington State School Directors Association; and Dan Steele, Washington Association of School Administrators.
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K–12 education in Washington state. Led by State School Superintendent Randy Dorn, OSPI works with the state’s 295 school districts and nine educational service districts to administer basic education programs and implement education reform on behalf of more than one million public school students.
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