Hot Topics

Below you’ll find more information on topics that LEV is working on and following.

Follow the Money

Education Funding Primer

The Washington State Constitution states: “It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders.”

The McCleary lawsuit was brought forward in 2007 against the state for its failure to fulfil its paramount duty, and the State Supreme Court ruled in 2012 in favor of the plaintiff finding that the state was not meeting its educational obligation to the more than 1 million public school children in Washington.

A central issue in the court’s McCleary decision is the unconstitutional reliance on local levies to fund basic education. Compensation is one of the most significant areas where local dollars are backfilling inadequate state funding. According to OSPI data, between the 1987-88 and 2012-13 school years, state allocations went from covering 99% of salaries to only 77%.

The legislature put a $1.3 billion down payment on the McCleary court decision in the 2015 session, but they have a long way to go to fully fund K-12 basic education and address the inequities of relying on voter approved levies to provide basic education.  The legislature remains in contempt of the State Supreme Court – to the tune of $100,000 a day — for not doing enough to meet its constitutional obligation. The legislature needs to fully fund basic education by 2018 at a cost of roughly $2 billion per the two-year state budget cycle.

How has the $1.3 billion of state funding been allocated so far?

  • Salary Increases: $383 million over two years (this is in addition to what is bargained locally)
  • Maintenance, Supplies, Operations and Costs: $741.5 million over two years
  • Health Benefit Rate Adjustment: $24.4 million over two years
  • Kindergarten through 3rd grade class size reduction: $350.2 million over two years
  • Full Day Kindergarten: $179.8 million over two years

To learn more about school funding, please watch the TVW piece featuring LEV’s former Director of Government Relations, Frank Ordway.

Learning From You

  • Where would you like to see the money go?
  • What values should be reflected in a funding system?
  • What flaws do you see in education funding?
  • What about the current system is working for students?
  • Who should have control over how the money is spent or allocated?
  • Which innovative funding model(s) would you like to see adopted in Washington?

Please share your ideas with LEV and your legislator.

What you can do to urge lawmakers to provide ample, equitable and stable funding

  • Share your personal experience as a parent or your child’s experience on social media. Your personal story on the funding inequities is a powerful way to highlight the need for a solution.
  • Attend one of the townhalls listed above.
  • Contact your legislator and ask them to provide ample, equitable and stable funding.

What people are saying:

“There’s a number of ways to get there. Levy fairness is a big step,” Former Senator Bruce Dammeier

“At this point, if we got to agreement on the size of the problem that would be a major accomplishment. We’ll talk about solutions later, after we define the problem.” – Rep. Hans Dunshee

Charter Public Schools

In 2012, voters made Washington the 42nd state to allow charter public schools.

Charter public schools are independently managed public schools that are operated by approved nonprofit organizations. They don’t charge tuition and are free and open to all students who live in Washington state.

Charter public schools also have more flexibility to create specific academic programs focused on areas like the arts, science and math, or special education. Teachers in charter public schools can also customize curriculum to meet the needs of individual students.

On September 4, 2015, the Washington Supreme Court ruled charter public schools unconstitutional. During the 2016 legislative session, Senate Bill 6194 restored Washington state’s charter public schools.