From the Tacoma News Tribune:
Lawmakers adjourned in July with a budget that put more money toward reducing class sizes in kindergarten through third grade, paying for school materials and operating costs, and expanding all-day kindergarten – each key parts of the McCleary decision.
“But they didn’t come up with a plan for reducing the state’s reliance on local levies to pay for basic education costs, which the court has clearly said are a state responsibility, not a local one.” – Excerpt
BACKGROUND and RECAP: In its ruling August 13, the state supreme court cites its finding in 2014 that Washington was not on target to meet funding goals that the legislature made for basic education. It ordered the state legislature to submit a plan detailing how it would pay for the expanded program of basic education. When the state failed to do so in 2014, the court held the state in contempt but held off on sanctions until after the legislature convened in 2015. The court has now issued sanctions.
The $100,000 per day will go to a fund to benefit basic education. The fine will be suspended if the legislature meets in special session.
The governor said he would meet with legislative leaders Monday via conference call.
“There is much that needs to be done before a special session can be called,” he said in a prepared statement. “I will ask lawmakers to do that work as quickly as humanly possible so that they can step up to our constitutional and moral obligations to our children and lift the court sanctions.”
In its ruling, the court called out unresolved capital costs related to full-day kindergarten and smaller class sizes in grades K-3, as well as salaries for teachers and administrators. The state has a salary schedule, but local school districts say they have to supplement it to attract and retain staff. They pay for this through local levies.
- You can read all the McCleary files here.
- The Washington Courts press release is here.
- State Sup. Dorn’s response to the supreme court order is here.
- Guest opinion from Seattle Senator David Frockt (D-46) is here. (Publicola, “Court Decision clarifies McCleary”)
- Followup story about next steps is here (Tacoma News Tribune, “Even a big fine is unlikely to uncork logjam on school funding, lawmakers say”)