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Jan. 18 update on proposed McCleary funding improvements

Read & print WEA's proposals for improving the McCleary school funding law.

WEA President Kim Mead  recently testified in support of Gov. Inslee’s supplemental budget, which would add another $1 billion for K-12 salaries. She appeared before both the Senate and House budget committees.

“We are glad the governor’s budget includes the funding needed to fully implement the state’s school funding plan by September of this year. Competitive compensation is necessary to attract and keep caring, qualified and committed educators to teach and work in schools,” Mead said.

Rep. Laurie Dolan has introduced House Bill 2717 and Sen. Sam Hunt has introduced SB 6397, which make much-needed improvements to the McCleary school funding plan and budget the Legislature approved last year. The bill would make changes to the new teacher salary allocation formula and the salary regionalization formula, and it would provide more flexibility for school levies, ensure phase-in of I-1351 – all of which are part of WEA’s Unity Agenda. 

WEA also supports Senate Bills 6090 and 6095, the capital budget, which includes school construction funding. Senate Republicans blocked passage of the capital budget last year in an unrelated fight over water rights, delaying some school construction projects.

Supreme Court says state still failing to fully fund K-12 basic education for our students

May Occupy groupThe Washington Supreme Court has once again ruled the state is violating our students' civill rights by not amply funding K-12 basic education. Read the Nov. 15 ruling here.

That means the Court will continue to fine the state $100,000 a day for failing to comply with the Court’s earlier order to approve a school funding plan that amply funds basic education by Sept. 1, 2018. The Court's unanimous decision said the Legislature's school funding plan falls short of fully funding educator base salaries by at least $1 billion.

“We’re glad the court retained jurisdiction," said Kim Mead, WEA president. "This ruling proves what we said during the session — the budget represents progress but doesn’t meet the McCleary mandate to amply fund K-12 public schools by Sept. 1 of next year. The Constitution makes a promise to Washington children — all of them have the right to an amply funded quality public education. We look forward to working with legislators in January to finally meet that promise."

The Court’s latest ruling once again confirms the state’s failure to fully fund basic education as required by the state Constitution – which the Supreme Court originally ruled in its 2012 McCleary decision. WEA members believe quality public education is a civil right for all Washington students, regardless of where they live or their family background.

Besides falling short of amply funding K-12 basic education, the McCleary school funding plan approved by the 2017 Legislature has other flaws that WEA urges legislators to fix in the 2018 session. That includes fixing the new salary allocation funding formula to reflect the actual cost of paying teachers in each district, funding the school construction budget and adjusting the severe new limits on the size of voter-approved school levies. Here is WEA's 2018 Unity Agenda for the session.

History of the McCleary court case

WEA and many of our locals have been major supporters and funders of the McCleary court case since the beginning more than a decade ago.

In its January, 2012 McCleary decision, the state Supreme Court ordered the state to fully fund K-12 public schools as required by Article IX of the Washington Constitution:

"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."

WA Capitol and Mount RainierIn McCleary, the Supreme Court ruled that the Legislature had failed to fulfill its constitutional obligation to our state's 1.1 million students. The court also retained jurisdiction in the case and ordered the state to report back on its progress in complying with the court’s order.

Two years later, the court found the Legislature in contempt for its failure to establish a plan for fully funding K-12 public education by 2018. The Legislature failed to provide a plan, and the Supreme Court responded by fining the state $100,000 a day. Read the court’s contempt order here.

Along with dozens of local associations, school districts and other plaintiffs, WEA has been been at the forefront of the funding fight since WEA members approved a special dues assessent in 2004. The McCleary case was filed in 2007, and a superior court judge ruled in support in 2010, followed by the Supreme Court's decision in 2012.

Here are links to all McCleary court decisions and reports.

For more information