March 18th marks the 2/3 point on the school calendar — a symbolic date to remind us all that the state funds only 2/3 of the cost of running our schools.
The state-funded part of the year may be done, but that doesn’t mean the Legislature has met its responsibility. While the amounts paid by local school districts vary, on average, up to one-third of school funding in Washington is funded almost entirely through local taxpayer-approved levies.
A coalition of parents, teachers, voters, school boards, school administrators, and the League of Education Voters joined forces to mark today as the last day of state funding and call on legislators to fully fund basic education. The coalition took out a full-page ad in today’s Olympian newspaper to remind readers that our state constitution says it is the legislature’s paramount duty is to fund K-12 education fully — not 2/3 — and for all children, not just some.
We cannot expect local communities to continue to should ever-increasing tax burdens for a job the state is required to do. We hope voters will join us in urging lawmakers to step up and fully fund basic education as they debate the state budget in Olympia in the coming weeks. The time is now and the need is urgent.
In January 2012, the Washington Supreme Court ruled in McCleary v. Washington that the state was not meeting its constitutionally mandated duty to fully fund basic education. The Court stated that even if the state paid for 100 percent of what is currently spent on K-12 education, it would still fail to meet its paramount duty. The court ordered the Legislature to overhaul how education is funded in the state by 2018.