2019 Legislative Priority: Fair Local K-12 Funding

By League of Education Voters Policy Team

We believe students come first. We are focused first and foremost on meeting the needs of every student.

We are dedicated to designing an equitable education system that serves all students based on their strengths, supports their needs, and provides the resources they need to be successful.

We are committed to working to close gaps experienced by historically and systemically underserved students— including students of color, students in poverty, students qualifying for special education services, students learning English, and students impacted by trauma. We believe this will lead to all students experiencing greater success and reaching their full potential.

BACKGROUND

Historically, local levies have provided about one quarter of K-12 education funding in Washington state, amounting to $2.6 billion in school year 2018-19. In 2018-19, districts raised an average of $2,395 per student in local levy funding, with levies ranging from $86 per student in some districts to over $4,000 in others. This difference is driven not only by the levy rates, or amounts that district voters agree to tax themselves, but also by the property values in a district.

For example, in 2018-19 one district passed a levy of about $1.13 per $1,000 of assessed value and raised $198 per student, while a higher property value district passed a similar levy of $1.14 per $1,000 of assessed value to raise $4,381 per student. (1)

WHAT HAS CHANGED?

As part of the legislative solution to fully fund basic education, several changes were made to how much districts can raise through the levy system that went into effect in January 2019. The two biggest changes to the levy system relate to the formula used to calculate how much districts can raise through levies and placing a lower overall limit on how much districts can raise. (2) Read More

2019 Legislative Priority: Special Education Funding

By League of Education Voters Policy Team

We believe students come first. We are focused first and foremost on meeting the needs of every student.

We are dedicated to designing an equitable education system that serves all students based on their strengths, supports their needs, and provides the resources they need to be successful.

We are committed to working to close gaps experienced by historically and systemically underserved students— including students of color, students in poverty, students qualifying for special education services, students learning English, and students impacted by trauma. We believe this will lead to all students experiencing greater success and reaching their full potential.

HOW DOES FUNDING FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION WORK IN WASHINGTON?

Districts receive both state and federal funding to provide educational services and supports to students with disabilities, with state funding providing the biggest portion of funding. There are several factors that determine how much special education funding a district receives, but the two factors that most impact the level of state funding for special education for school districts are:

  • Special Education Enrollment: Each student regardless of disability or type of service received will generate the same amount of funding per student for a single district, but districts are capped at generating special education funding for a maximum of 13.5% of overall student enrollment. For example, if a district has a special education enrollment of 15.0% they will only generate special education funding for 13.5% of students.
  • District Teacher Salary Funding: The amount of funding each student generates differs by district and can vary by more than $1,000 per-student across the state. There are several factors that go into each district’s per-student funding amount, but the most significant is a district’s state-funded teacher salary amount. The higher a district’s state-funded teacher salary the more special education funding per-student they will generate. (1)

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New Podcast – Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal

Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal - League of Education VotersIn our podcast, we interview policymakers, partners, and thought leaders to spotlight education policies, research, and practices so that together we can create a brighter future for every Washington student.

In this latest episode, League of Education Voters Communications Director Arik Korman sat down with Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal to discuss his office’s statewide survey on funding priorities, how the survey informed his budget ask for the 2019 legislative session, and how we can get involved in making these priorities a reality.

 

Listen:

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The Work Ahead: District Decisions Around Teacher Salary Post-McCleary

Teacher working with 2 students, Teacher Salary Blog IntroBy Jacob Vela, Senior Policy Analyst

As districts across the state start planning for next school year they will be faced with some unfamiliar choices as they look to allocate $2.5 billion more in state funding next school year than the current school year. The most recent increase in state education funding was directed mostly to increase K-12 staff salaries, including the more than 50,000 teachers across the state. This was a key part of the court’s ruling as the state has underfunded teacher salaries for many years leaving districts to pick up the tab if they wanted to offer teachers a competitive salary.

As districts plan for how the influx of money will be spent in the face of the shifting funding landscape districts and community members will have some difficult questions to consider:

  • Does the state provide enough for all districts to attract and retain teachers, especially for high-poverty or rural districts?
  • How will the increased investments impact how districts use their local levy dollars?
  • How will the educational experience of students be positively impacted with the new investments?
  • Will district budgets be financially sustainable?

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The Work Ahead

By Julia Warth, Director of Policy and Research

South Shore PK-8 students - League of Education VotersThe recent investments and changes made to the K-12 funding system in response to the Washington State Supreme Court McCleary ruling will have long-lasting impacts on our education system. While progress has been made to adequately fund basic education, more work remains to ensure that we equitably fund basic education. League of Education Voters is committed to working with districts and partners to continue to move towards an education system that is funded to provide every student what they need to succeed.

We will be providing a number of resources and series of analyses that will highlight some of the remaining opportunities and work ahead looking towards the 2021 legislative session. These include:

  • A series of maps that illustrate the impact of House Bill 2242 (2017 legislative session) and Senate Bill 6362 (2018 legislative session) across the state, and the inequities that remain;
  • A brief on the choices facing districts and the new investments in teacher salaries;
  • An analysis of the continued challenges in special education funding in preparation for the 2019 session; and
  • A broader analysis of the impact of HB 2242 and SB 6362 and solutions to explore to address challenges created by regionalization factor and the two-tiered local levy structure, and how we can better target resources to students who have been systemically and historically underserved.

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Education Funding Priorities: Part Two

Education Funding Priorities Part Two

As mentioned in Part One, to help direct our work with our community to create positive change in Washington’s education system, we sent out a survey via email and social media channels in May to learn how Washington community members would like state education funding prioritized. We thank the 737 people, from 71 school districts across the state, who submitted responses.

Our survey first offered respondents an opportunity to rank 16 pre-established funding priorities to make the most difference for students [view results in Part One]. Then respondents had the opportunity to write in other priorities. Over 58% of the respondents added further priorities. Read More

Education Funding Priorities Across Washington

By Emma Elise Hodges, League of Education Voters Communications Specialist

To help direct our work with our community to create positive change in Washington’s education system, we sent out a survey via email and social media channels in May to learn how Washington community members would like state education funding prioritized. We thank the 737 people, from 71 school districts across the state, who submitted responses. While we received responses proportionate to the population of middle to high socioeconomic status school districts, there was a disproportionality for lower socioeconomic school districts. Therefore, we looked at the priorities overall amongst all survey respondents and then parsed out the data based on school districts’ percentage of students on Free and Reduced Priced Lunch (FRPL), a common marker for socioeconomic status, to make sure we were understanding the priorities of our entire state. Read More

State Bond and Levy Elections by the Numbers

By Kelly Munn, League of Education Voters State Field Director, and Jacob Vela, League of Education Voters Senior Policy Analyst

League of Education Voters - Passed Bonds and Levies in Washington 2018 GraphLast month, communities across Washington state voted on local levies to continue funding for enrichment programs and capital projects at district schools. Here are the election results and my analysis.

154 out of the 295 school districts in Washington state ran an Enrichment levy, and 150 passed. 42 levies passed because of simple majority, which is a 50-59.9% yes vote. Those districts that passed in the 50-55% range were mostly in the Puget Sound area.

24 school districts ran a bond, and 11 passed. 11 of the failed bonds would have passed with simple majority for bonds. Bonds currently pass only with a yes vote of 60% or greater.

60 school districts ran capital levies, and 51 passed.

6 school districts ran transportation levies, and 5 passed.

150 school districts passed an Enrichment levy.  It does not yet appear that the confusion around the new McCleary funding is effecting the overall passage rate across the state. 150 out of 154 school districts passed. Superintendent Jim Kowalkowski explains what passage of the levy means for his Davenport School District: “We are excited that many of the programs we offer for students (College in the High School, Satellite Skills Center, Knowledge Bowl, All-day Preschool, Project Lead the Way (STEM) courses, Choir and Drama Programs, etc., will continue to be a part of our educational offerings. We are so grateful to have such a supportive community!” Read More

Changes to Education Finance in Washington state

South Shore PK-8 students - League of Education VotersThe Legislature made significant changes to the K-12 education funding structures in 2017—infusing more than $7 billion in state money into the system over four years through House Bill 2242. As the fiscal impacts of the changes became clearer, legislators proposed a range of changes to address the concerns that districts have voiced around HB 2242.

As the legislature made changes in 2018 to their plan to fully fund education, League of Education Voters feels it is important that the changes should be focused on:

Direct investments based on student need. Any changes to the funding system should drive resources to districts based on the needs of their student populations.

Eliminate disparities between districts. Modifications made to the structures put in place in HB 2242 should address unintended impacts that created (and recreated) inequities between high-property value/low-poverty districts and low-property value/high-poverty districts.

Attracting & retaining educators. State funding formulas should ensure that districts across the state are provided enough resources to attract and retain a diverse educator workforce.

Increase transparency in funding system. Increased access to data on spending and student outcomes is essential to ensure the effectiveness and equity of the new systems and structures put into place.

Read our side-by-side of the 2018 funding changes compared to current law

Register for our Lunchtime LEVinar Tuesday, March 13 at 12:30pm

Follow all the legislative action on our Bill Tracker

 

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