WEA members play lead role in funding increases for public schools & students
Funding for Washington’s public schools and students is at an all-time high.
“This is terrific news for Washington’s 1.1 million public school students and proof that WEA members’ hard work and commitment to our students is paying off – literally,” says Kim Mead, Washington Education Association president.
That’s a nearly 20 percent increase in funding for Washington’s K-12 public schools, mainly because of the continued implementation of court-ordered McCleary funding and new policies. K-12 funding is now more than half of the state’s general fund budget. Nearly every one of our 295 school districts has substantially more funding than last year – and they will next year as well.
The Legislature also increased local school levy flexibility, which could raise as much as $645 million in additional school funding in coming years.
Mead said there’s more work to do on funding for special education, smaller class sizes and hiring more school counselors, nurses, social workers and other support professionals who work with students.
Still, she said, “It’s important to recognize and celebrate the historic progress we’ve made on school funding in Washington and meeting the needs of all students. WEA members believe what the Constitution says: funding quality education for all our students is the state’s paramount duty.”
Unfortunately for their students, there are a small number of school district superintendents who continue to push for unnecessary budget cuts and reductions in staff. Mead said WEA stands firmly opposed to reduction in teachers and other staff who directly support students. She said unnecessary cuts will hurt students, including overcrowded classrooms and fewer services.
In some districts where WEA members are in contract negotiations, school boards are threatening budget cuts as a bargaining tactic, not because cuts are necessary.
Over the last two decades, WEA members have led the fight to increase funding and resources for our students. We’ve had many allies along the way, but let’s be clear: as the state’s largest union, Washington Education Association members have been the strongest advocates for our students and the resources they need to be successful. We have played leadership roles in these school funding victories:
- Passing the statewide initiative mandating annual cost-of-living adjustments for all K-12 educators
- Passing the first state-wide initiative to reduce class sizes
- Passing the second statewide ballot measure to reduce class sizes and add support staff (Initiative 1351)
- Passing a constitutional amendment making it easier for voters to approve school levies
- Passing legislation to increase local school levy flexibility
- Funding and supporting the McCleary court case – the biggest school funding victory in state history
- Negotiating unprecedented double-digit percentage pay raises for teachers and support staff in many school districts
And our work isn’t over – WEA members in at least 160 locals will be in contract negotiations again this year. Competitive, professional compensation is needed to continue attracting and keeping qualified, caring educators for our students.
“We can’t go backwards,” Mead said. “Even when we face opposition, WEA members will continue to focus on what matters most: our students.”