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From Peter to Paul 

Spokane Public Schools looks to cut after handing out raises; plus, heat-packing protesters

click to enlarge Rep. Matt Shea led a protest at the Spokane City Council when it honored a local Islamic Civil Rights group. - CHRISTIAN WILSON
  • Christian Wilson
  • Rep. Matt Shea led a protest at the Spokane City Council when it honored a local Islamic Civil Rights group.

MIND THE GAP

There's no such thing as a free lunch — or, in the case of Spokane Public Schools, no such thing as free raises for lunch ladies. The district managed to avert a strike with the union and deliver raises to its employees, but it came at a cost. Now, the district has to figure out how to cut $5.6 MILLION from its budget.

District spokesman Kevin Morrison says the school board's directive is to "keep [cuts] as far away from the classrooms as you possibly can."

Those cuts could include reducing funding for classroom supplies, discretionary budgets for buildings or funding for high-schoolers to go on college tours.

"There could be some delays in the implementation of certain programs, like the dual language programs," Morrison says. Certain curricula, such as an eighth-grade American Studies curriculum, could be delayed.

Replacing outdated computers could also be delayed. "Technology is going to take a major hit on this one," Morrison says.

As a last resort, the district could also increase the costs of school lunches, after-school "Express" program fees, or the fees for outside groups to rent school facilities.

Morrison says the district had budgeted a cushion before going into bargaining, but the deal the district ultimately agreed to far exceeded it. These cuts, Morrison says, confirm what the district was saying all along: There wasn't some secret chest with tons more money to use for raises. (DANIEL WALTERS)

ON THE LAM

An inmate at Geiger Corrections Center who drove away from the Spokane County Fair last week still has NOT BEEN FOUND.

Daniel F. Murinko, 26, was picking up trash at the fairgrounds last Thursday when he hopped on a golf cart-like vehicle and never returned, according to Geiger Lt. JoAnne Lake.

"When you're dealing with people, you do everything you can with respect to putting them in the least restrictive environment and trying to promote community service, but you do take a certain amount of risk," Lake told the Inlander last week.

Murinko had been held since Sept. 9 on two DUI charges and two counts of driving with a suspended license. He is not considered a danger to the community, Lake says.

Murinko is the third person to walk away from Geiger's work crew program this year. Most recently, Devin Johnson escaped in a stolen Spokane County fairgrounds truck in July. Johnson was found two days later.

Geiger's work crew program gives low-risk offenders the opportunity to work in the community while they wait for trial or serve their sentence. Walking away from the work crew is classified as a misdemeanor because inmates do not technically escape from a detention facility. (MITCH RYALS)

THEY CAIR A LOT

Spokane City Council drew the ire of local activists earlier this week when it passed a salutation praising the work of an ISLAMIC CIVIL RIGHTS GROUP.

On Monday, ACT for America, a national organization that's been criticized by the Southern Poverty Law Center for making inflammatory remarks about Muslims, drew about 70 people to a rally outside the Northeast Community Center, where the city council held a special meeting. The rally was intended to protest the Council on American Islamic Relations being recognized by the city for its work seeking to bridge the divide between Muslims and non-Muslims.

The rally, which included individuals carrying guns, was addressed by state Rep. Matt Shea, R- Spokane Valley, who said it was impossible to pledge allegiance to Allah and the U.S. Constitution.

Nevertheless, in a packed room inside the Northeast Community Center, the council passed the salutation without disruption. Council President Ben Stuckart later remarked that he had received bizarre and racist emails leading up to the meeting. Councilman Jon Snyder wrote on his blog the next day that, "I have received some of the most vitriolic and bigoted emails in my years on Council in relation to the CAIR salutation yesterday." (JAKE THOMAS)

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