The Capitol Record

Committee approves education funding report for the state Supreme Court

A legislative committee on Tuesday unanimously approved a report that will be sent to the state Supreme Court explaining how the state intends to fund education in order to meet the requirements of the McCleary case. In that ruling, the court said the state was not meeting its constitutional duty to fully fund basic education.

Committee co-chair Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, said the report was a “consolidation” of a Republican version and a Democratic version.

“I don’t think it has everything in here that everybody wanted, but it has the core issues that were important to both sides and it lays out in a factual way what we did and what needs to be done,” Frockt said.

The Legislature approved a budget this year that puts $982 million more into basic K-12 education over the next two years. The report highlights four actions that the Legislature approved in the budget, including:

  • Full-day kindergarten: $89.8 million, increasing enrollment in full-day kindergarten from 22 percent to 44 percent.
  • Student transportation: $131.7 million, which fully funds the cost of busing students by the 2014-15 school year.
  • Materials, supplies and operating costs: $374 million, or $782 dollars per student by the 2014-15 school year.
  • Class size reduction: $103.6 million, reducing kindergarten and 1st grade class sizes in “high poverty schools” to 20 students.

The report also lays out future costs. The state is required to provide statewide full-day kindergarten by 2018, which the report estimates will cost $316 million in the 2017-18 budget cycle.

Another $1 billion is required to reduce class sizes for grades K-3 in all schools by the 2017-18 school year. Materials, supplies and operating costs are estimated to cost $857 million by the 2015-16 school year.

This is the second progress report the Legislature has provided to the state Supreme Court, which has jurisdiction until 2018. It was prepared by a the Article IX Litigation committee, which includes Sen. David Frockt, Rep. Gary Alexander, Sen. Joe Fain, Sen. Steve Litzow, Sen. Christine Rolfes, Rep. Susan Fagan, Rep. Jamie Pedersen and Rep. Pat Sullivan.

The full report is available online here.

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