Seattle Public Schools is down two school board members as it faces a $104 million budget deficit.
Vivian Song and Lisa Rivera announced they are stepping down from their positions, effective Friday, in response to a story in The Seattle Times that found Song violated a state residency requirement since moving out of her school board district at some point in 2022.
In a joint statement posted on social media, Rivera also confirmed that she had moved out of her district as well.
“We have both experienced significant changes to our family situations, which have prompted both of us to move outside the boundaries of our internal director districts,” Song and Rivera said. “Sometimes the rules simply don’t reflect the realities of modern family life, and should certainly never be exploited in the media while plans are made.”
Rivera was re-elected for a second four-year term in November 2023. She represented Seattle Public Schools District 2, which includes schools in the Wallingford, Fremont, Green Lake, Greenwood and Maple Leaf neighborhoods.
Song was elected to a four-year term in November 2021. She represented District 4, which includes eight schools in Ballard, Magnolia, Queen Anne and Belltown neighborhoods.
Recently, Song was a finalist for Seattle’s citywide council position but lost to Tanya Woo.
According to Seattle Public Schools, each school board member receives compensation of $50 per day or portion thereof for attending school board meetings and for performing other services on behalf of the school district, not to exceed $4,800 per year.
Song and Rivera can waive all or any portion of their respective compensation for any month or months during their terms of office by a written waiver filed with the district.
Compensations come from locally collected excess levy funds available for that purpose.
The resignations come at a time when Seattle Public Schools faces a projected deficit of $104 million for the 2024-2025 school year, $129 million for 2025-2026, and $153 million for the 2026-2027 school year.
The district cites insufficient funding from the state, a decline in enrollment and previous staffing decisions as the primary reasons for the structural shortfall.
The school board is expected to create a plan for “well-resourced schools” by May 8. Well-resourced schools may include school consolidations from 2025 through 2028.
The remaining board members will now fill the two vacancies by appointment. The board's next step will be accepting and reviewing applications from qualified persons seeking to fill the position after suitable public notice.