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Shoreline Schools to Receive Priority in Safety Net Funding

HB 2720 was approved by the House Education Appropriations and Oversight Committee last week.

In a victory for Fircrest and other Residential Habilitation Centers (RHCs), HB 2720 was approved unanimously by the House Education Appropriations and Oversight Committee, last Thursday.

HB 2720 prioritizes safety net funding for residential schools, or RHCs. 

There are currently about 860 clients residing at four institutions referred to as RHCs: Rainier School, Lakeland Village, Fircrest School, and Yakima Valley School.

The safety net for special education was instutituted in 1997, following a revision of the special education formulas in 1995.

In Washington state, the fiscal year appropriations for safety net awards are $8.9 million in the 2012 fiscal year and $34.2 million in the 2013 fiscal year.

Students who reside in the RHCs are typically the higher needs students, and they require highly specialized care.

There are currently 26 students under the age of 21 residing in RHCs. Of those, 25 are living at Fircrest School.

Of those 25 students, only one is actually from the Shoreline and Lake Forest Park communitites.

Because of their severe disabilities, the cost, for the Shoreline School District, is between $50,000 and $70,000 dollars per Fircrest student.

The Shoreline School District's out of pocket costs unreimbursed over the last three years totals approximately $500,000. This overwhelming financial burden leaves the district with an estimated shortfall of $400,000, for the fiscal year.

The committee voted, with no opposition, to make the Shoreline School District a priority.

Cheryl Felak February 07, 2012 at 11:32 PM
I would like to thank Representative Kagi and Representative Ryu for sponsoring HB 2720 which provides safety net funding to school districts with a residential school for people with developmental disabilties. I also want to make a correction to this article - this funding is not going to Fircrest but to Shoreline School District to help with the increased expenses of the children who reside at Fircrest. I do hope that with this funding, I will not have to hear Susan Walker, Shoreline School Superintendent, other administrators and parents refer to these children as "burdens" and because of them other Shoreline citizens are denied services. As a parent of one of these children, I fully understand the issues of funding but denying our children the right of an education and calling them burdens to Shoreline is a slap in the face and a step backwards in advocacy for people with developmental disabilities. Fircrest is a success story and one of survival. These families have survived crisis after crisis and their children are now stable. Many feel like they have finally found their community here and then to hear that they are still considered "burdens" is inhumane. I appreciated the "safety net" funding to Shoreline School District. I appreciate the teachers and staff who work with our children - the superintendent could use some lessons though.
Janet Way February 07, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Thank you Cheryl. And it is great that the Shoreline School District has received this funding to make up the gap they were concerned about. And here's hoping that adequate funding can remain in the budget for the RHC's like Fircrest to help students like your son achieve their best outcomes and proper care. There is so much that Fircrest could offer to our entire community if it was given the funding and ability to provide the services it is designed to. Thanks as well to all the Fircrest families and the work they do to support the residents too.
Gennette Cordova February 08, 2012 at 08:40 AM
Thank you! I made that correction.

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