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Statement From State Superintendent Randy Dorn on Proposed 2015-17 Operating Budget (House Bill 1106)

OLYMPIA — March 30, 2015 — The journey to fully fund basic education for our students began well over a decade ago, highlighted by the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision. The first concrete step in this journey was the passage of House Bill 2776. I do not believe this should be the only step. I applaud the work done in this House budget proposal to fund 2776:

  • It increases funding for materials, supplies and operating costs (MSOC).
  • It pays for lower class sizes in grades K-3.
  • It pays for full-day kindergarten.
  • It increases funding for the Transitional Bilingual Instruction Program.
  • It makes selective staffing improvements in the prototypical school model.

However, this budget proposal falls short of fully funding basic education in a number of key areas:

  • It does not lower class sizes in grades 4-12, which was approved by the voters last fall.
  • There is neither reduction in class size nor increase in MSOC for CTE students.
  • It does not adequately fund more than 20,000 existing school employees, such as teaching assistants, custodians, and technology staff.

I am also concerned that the proposal does not address the need to reduce reliance on local levies. In fact, in terms of compensation, this budget increases the reliance on levy funds. The House budget includes a long overdue cost-of-living adjustment, which we support, but the COLA is only for the personnel funded by the state. School districts will be forced to use levy money to provide similar increases to those staff funded with local funds.

This is wrong.

The costs of employees providing basic education are a state responsibility. Passing off this obligation to districts puts a burden on local taxpayers that is unfair and inequitable to districts, making it more difficult to close achievement gaps. This goes beyond just an educational issue to a civil rights issue.

The State is currently in contempt of court because it has failed to adopt a complete plan showing year by year how it intends to fully fund basic education by 2018 without the use of levies. In no way can this budget be considered such a complete plan.

Last spring the Legislature sent a message to the Supreme Court, assuring the justices that it would reach "a grand agreement" on education funding this session, and asking the Court to wait on possible sanctions. I also asked the Court to withhold sanctions in order to give the legislature time to act this session. But now we are in the fourth quarter of the session and have yet to see the plan the court is demanding.

The Legislature must adopt a clear plan for full funding of basic education this session. This budget does not.

 

About OSPI
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K–12 education in Washington state. Led by State School Superintendent Randy Dorn, OSPI works with the state’s 295 school districts and nine educational service districts to administer basic education programs and implement education reform on behalf of more than one million public school students.

OSPI provides equal access to all programs and services without discrimination based on sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability. Questions and complaints of alleged discrimination should be directed to the Equity and Civil Rights Director at (360) 725-6162 or P.O. Box 47200, Olympia, WA 98504-7200.

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CONTACT:
Kristen Jaudon
Communications Specialist
360.725.6032 | Kristen.Jaudon@k12.wa.us

The OSPI Communications Office serves as the central point of contact for local, regional and national media covering K-12 education issues.

Communications Manager
Nathan Olson
(360) 725-6015

 

   Updated 3/31/2015

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