Reykdal: Supreme Court Order Shows ‘Significant Progress’ Made in Funding Basic Education
OLYMPIA — November 15, 2017 — The Supreme Court largely affirmed the state’s position that most of the mechanisms for full funding of basic education are in place. I agree with that. As the Court wrote, the state “has made significant progress” toward that goal. The Court singled out funding formulas for transportation; materials, supplies and operating costs; and full-day kindergarten as being fully funded and now constitutional.
The Court did find that the state hasn’t met one obligation, however. By Sept. 1, 2018, full funding of education staff salaries was to be implemented. The state has admitted that will not happen. Because of the missed deadline, the Court will retain jurisdiction over the case and continue the $100,000-a-day fine. It has asked the state for an update after the 2018 legislative session.
I applaud the Legislature’s work. They have substantially increased basic education funding during the past three biennia.
But I don’t believe the work is done. I have heard from many districts that local levy funds are still being used to pay for special education services. Since special education is part of basic education, the state should be responsible for that funding. That’s why my supplemental budget request for 2018 includes $130 million more in special education funding, as well as $370 million more for 2019-21. During the next two sessions, I will push hard for that funding.
I will also be recommending fixes to local levies in 2018. The Legislature placed new caps on the amount of money school districts can raise through the levies. But the caps don’t give districts enough flexibility. In 2019, they will be required to choose the lesser of two amounts:
- $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value or
- $2,500 per student
I would like districts to be given options choose their cap. I also believe that increasing the caps will allow districts to provide the programs they want beyond the basics.
Looking ahead, we need to move beyond existing formulas to larger transformations in the school calendar, true market-driven compensation for educators, and enhanced career and technical education pathways to graduation and employment.
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K–12 education in Washington state. Led by State School Superintendent Chris Reykdal, OSPI works with the state’s 295 school districts and nine educational service districts to administer basic education programs and improve student achievement on behalf of more than one million public school students.
OSPI provides equal access to all programs and services without discrimination based on sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability. Questions and complaints of alleged discrimination should be directed to the Equity and Civil Rights Director at (360) 725-6162 or P.O. Box 47200, Olympia, WA 98504-7200.
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