FAQs - School Funding
Aren’t schools fully funded by the legislature now because of McCleary v. State of Washington?
“It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.” – Washington State Constitution, Article IX, Section 1
No. It has been more than a decade since the Network for Excellence in Washington Schools (NEWS) filed a lawsuit on behalf of families (one named McCleary). The suit against the State of Washington alleged that the state wasn’t meeting its Constitutional duty to adequately fund basic education. In 2010 the State Supreme Court ruled that the state isn’t meeting its paramount duty because, among other items, the state isn’t fully funding transportation and staff salaries and benefits. In 2016 the court fined the state $100,000 per day (retroactive to August 2015) for a lack of measured progress in meeting the requirement to fully fund basic education.
This past summer, the Legislature changed how it allocates funding to school districts. Under the new formula Northshore School District loses both funding and flexibility.
In an attempt to respond to the McCleary decision, the Legislature’s new funding formula limits how much districts can collect in voter-approved levies to fund education programs and school activities. The new law also mandates the district use this funding for specific purposes, limiting the District’s control of local taxpayer money.
We believe this law creates a new inequity among districts and that schools, parents and communities should decide how money is best spent on the education of their students.
Didn’t the legislature make changes to school funding over the summer?
Yes, in the summer of 2017, the Washington State Legislature changed how it allocates funding to school districts and under the new formula Northshore School District loses both funding and flexibility.
The new law is an attempt by lawmakers to respond to the McCleary case in which the Supreme Court determined the state is not fully funding basic K-12 education.
The new law allows the state to cap how much districts can collect in voter-approved levies to fund education programs and school activities. Under the new formula, Northshore can only collect $ 1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value, effective calendar year 2019, rather than the current rate of $1.93. Given that the Education Programs & Operations Renewal Levy provides 20 percent of the District’s basic education budget, the cut in funding could have serious repercussions in our community.
The new law also mandates the district use this funding for specific purposes, limiting the District’s control of local taxpayer money. Schools, parents and communities should decide how money is best spent on the education of their students.
We believe this law creates a new inequity among districts. We are calling on our legislators to fix these inequities in the 2018 session so that Northshore and other communities do not suffer the consequences of this law.
How is the Legislature failing to fund basic education?
A great example, among many, is the change in requirements for high school graduation. The state provides funding for five periods of instruction, during which students earn 20 credits. However, the legislature has changed the requirement for graduation from 20 earned credits to 24. To provide the required number of credit hours for graduation, high schools must provide a minimum six instruction periods. In reality our high schools are offering up to eight class periods so that students can also take elective classes that fall outside of the required 24 credits. High schools are offering up to three class periods that our state is not funding. The school district is paying for the additional four credits for each student.
How close does the new state budget plan come in to meeting the state’s Constitutional requirement to fully fund education?
The new state budget plan falls short in the following areas:
- Does not pay 100% of cost to meet special education students’ educational needs.
- Does not pay to honor existing local agreements made in good faith with school staff.
- Does not pay the full cost to transport students safely to and from school.
- Does not pay to build new classrooms to reduce class size, even though lower class sizes are being mandated.
- Does not pay for the technology students must use to become responsible, successful, productive citizens of tomorrow, or for the training teachers need to help them achieve that goal.
- Does not pay for teacher training days.
- Does not pay for interventions to help struggling learners, including students with dyslexia and those on the autism spectrum.
- Restricts local control of local money, preventing Northshore’s use of Northshore money for unique Northshore needs.
If the funding formula has changed, will that change my tax rate?
The good news for Northshore homeowners is that in either case the future projected local tax rate is less than the current tax rate, resulting in a decrease of the local property tax rate.
How does Washington funding stack up nationally?
Education funding is one of the major expenditures in any state. According to a 2013 U.S. Census figure, education funding accounts for an average of 29.9% of all state funding each year. In Washington that figure was 26.7%, which is considerably lower than the national average.