DOCUMENTS: Shoreline School District Again Pleads for Help From Legislature for Fircrest

School District has paid $860,249 out of pocket over the past four years to serve school-age students at Fircrest for state program without reimbursement from the state

Since 2006, the number of school age residents at Fircrest Residential Habilitation Center in Shoreline has grown from one to currently 25 severely disabled students.

Fircrest is now the only residential habilitation program in the state accepting school-age residents who are 16 to 21 years old.

And during that time the Shoreline School District has shouldered more of the financial and staffing responsibility for the education of those residents.

In the last four years, revenues for the programs the district provides have been signifcantly less than the indirect and direct costs to the school district for what is supposed to be a state program.

The district has not been reiumbursed for $860,249 in costs for the last four years, including a high of $311,206 in the 2011-12 school year.

Shoreline School District Superintendent Sue Walker sent a letter Oct. 17(see attached PDF) to the 32nd and 46th District legislators, stating her continued concern on the impacts to the Shoreline School District.

"It' a huge responsibliity for the district. It causes stress throughout our system," she said. "Staff do not last long in these jobs."

The cost for worker's compensation claims in 2011-12 alone was $144,458 from injuries sustained by workers at Fircrest from working with the students there who adult-size and suffer from autism and other serious disabilities that affect behavior. 

Fircrest Costs to Shoreline School District

2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 Totals Revenues $850,420 1,100,548 1,224,922 1,239,324 4,415,214 Direct Costs $915,663 1,217,774 1,113,691 1,361,308 4,608,436 Indirect Costs $156,853 180,961
189,222 667,027 Net -$222,096 -298,187 -28,760 -311,206 -860,249

Rep. Ruth Kagi, who has worked on the issue for five years, thought she had made some headway last legislative session although the long-term solution she and the district had been seeking did get enough support.

About $250,000 from the Department of Health and Social Services was added to the House budget by Rep. Ross Hunter, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, to assist Shoreline Schools. 

However, even though the  budget with the money for Shoreline passed the Legislature, that line-item for Shoreline was vetoed by Governor Chris Gregoire.

It was yet another blow to Kagi and the Shoreline School District.

Walker, who has testisified before legislative committees annually for several years, said she gets nods of support in Olympia but in the end the result is the same: no more money and no new solution other than having the district continue to shoulder the burden.

"We believe that this situation is simply not acceptable and we are respectfully asking for your help in finding a resolution, both short and long-term, " she wrote the legislators. "Our school board, staff, PTA and community are eager to work with you to find solutions to this issue and its growing impact on our educational community. Thank you for listening and for any efforts you expend on our behalf."

Cheryl Felak October 24, 2012 at 08:19 PM
Thank you, I was aware that this issue would again come up knowing that there are a few more school age kids who have been admitted to Fircrest. Last year, I wrote to the Sue Walker and the school district regarding errors and questions. I never did receive a response. I have had contact with the legislators from the 32nd and 46th district also. These letters and are too involved and long for this comment but they will be available for viewing and comments on my website at www.becausewecare1.com. There is a lot of misinformation regarding this issue including RCWs, IDEA, Least Restrictive Environment with respect the education of our students whose home is Fircrest. I am fully supportive of Shoreline School District being funded for these kids but there needs to be changes made in the RCWs of our state, the accounting system of the district and accountability. Last year at a Shoreline Council PTA meeting, Amy Vuyjovich, Director of Student Services, gave a presentation. She mentioned there was safety net funding but one has to fill out a lot of paperwork and that "it was a real hassle." Yes, it is but other school districts with just as many transient high support needs students fill these out and are awarded the safety net funding. Shoreline should not be an exception just because "it is a hassle. Please see the link for a more thorough discussion. I would welcome comments and questions. Hopefully we can change the RCWs - it needs to start there.


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