Education funding update

Last year I provided many updates on what lawmakers proposed and ultimately passed to provide a high-quality education for all children. The end result was a historic investment that not only amply funds our public schools but also makes education more equitable throughout the state.

Since 2012, the Legislature will have increased state funding for public schools from $6,639 per student to $11,996 by the 2019-20 school year. That translates to an additional $13 billion in total state funding for K-12 education.

In November, the Washington State Supreme Court issued a ruling in the McCleary education funding case that largely endorsed the bipartisan reforms.

One area the court disagreed was that the 2019 date for full state funding doesn’t match the Legislature’s original plan to have changes in place by 2018. The transition timeline resulted from the complexity of implementing reforms.

There are still items that can be improved in K-12 education funding like special education. But the solution we passed last year sought to address our responsibilities in a way that worked best to improve outcomes for students, not the desire of the court.

The governor’s supplemental budget proposal highlighted the difficulty in making the overall transition for 295 school districts in 39 counties. The governor sought to meet the court’s 2018 deadline by raiding our budget reserves, which I don’t believe is responsible or necessary. As a result, the governor’s plan would actually put school districts on a budget roller coaster with most schools receiving less money in the 2019-20 school year than in the previous year.

Last week I had the opportunity to join with other education funding leaders from each of the four legislative caucuses to discuss these issues as part of the annual Associated Press Legislative Preview. If you would like to watch the panel discussion you can click here. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.