Dorn: Court Must Rule on McCleary Quickly
OLYMPIA — August 30, 2016 — On Monday I filed a brief in the McCleary v. Washington case. In July the state Supreme Court asked all parties in the case how much the major costs associated with basic education are funded by the state and how much by local districts.
Because my office receives spending reports from all of the state’s 295 school districts, I asked the Supreme Court if I could contribute. The Court agreed.
The last year for which we have complete data is 2014-15. Based on that year, spending on basic education staff was as follows:
* Per full-time equivalent employee
Spending on categorical programs and other basic education expenditures was as follows:
|Other basic education expenditures|
|Career & Technical Education||322||25||347|
* In millions of dollars
What’s especially troubling is that, according to analysis done by my office, districts spent a total of $3 billion in 2014-15 from local levies and levy equalization. About 60 percent of that total – $1.8 billion – was needed to make up for the differences in salaries and additional staffing.
We have a grave teacher shortage in this state, and it’s not made any easier when the state doesn’t even allocate the full salary for a teacher, administrator or classified employee.
The Court asked for the information because it is considering whether to lift the $100,000-a-day fine on the Legislature. I strongly urge the Court not to do so. In fact, in June I urge the Court to increase the severity of the sanctions. The Legislature has had more than four years to fully fund basic education. But in 2014-15, they were clearly short. Legislators must understand that that money translates into children in some parts of the state not getting the education services they need and deserve.
Just as important, I also strongly urge the court to rule on this matter quickly, before election day. The two gubernatorial candidates recently held their first debate and failed to substantively discuss education funding.
As I end my eight years in office, I am becoming more discouraged by the lack of momentum I’m seeing in funding. Using a rough analogy, to this point the Court has been the “nice” parent, begging and pleading for the child to clean his room. It’s time for the Court to stop being nice and demand action. Otherwise, the room will get messier and messier.
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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