Hello educators, parents, and others concerned about our education policy:
Throughout this legislative session, I will share some of the resources that we are using to make our decisions, and invite you to share your perspective on how these issues play out in your schools and communities.
We continue to work hard on finishing the budget in time to avoid a government shutdown. I am analyzing the proposal and getting answers from staff on how this budget affects students, teachers, and taxpayers in our district. There are still a lot of details I have yet to work out.
Our biggest problem right now is uncertainty in the face of a government shutdown. After months of negotiations, our alternatives are to work through this deal – which is a significant step forward, although it will continue to need work going forward – or to shut the government down.
On my first take, here are some positives and negatives that I see with the education funding deal, along with questions that I still want answered:
- $7.3 billion new statewide education funding: Combined with the approximately $4 billion in education funding provided over the past several budget cycles, this is a substantial investment in our public schools.
- 11th district benefits from around $1.1 billion in new revenue: Because the 11th Legislative District includes all or part of six different school districts – Tukwila, Renton, Kent, Seattle, Highline, and Issaquah – we will see the impact of funding infusions in all of those districts.
- Teacher salaries: Adequate compensation to recruit and retain qualified staff is included in the statutory definition of basic education. The state average salary allocation is increased, as is beginning pay for certified instructional staff. Regional cost of living is accounted for in the allocation formula.
- Collective bargaining: While local districts do not have the ability to collectively bargain the state’s salary allocation schedule above inflation, they do have the ability to collectively bargain salary increases above the allocation schedule based on time and responsibility.
- Taxes go down in some districts: Many school districts across the state – including Highline, Kent, and Tukwila – will see a decreased net tax burden.
- Local control: School districts will receive a certain amount of money determined by the state funding formula. Within specified parameters, districts will then make decisions on how to spend their state allocations based on the needs of their district.
- Unsustainable revenue sources: Some of the money for this $7.3 billion investment comes from revenue sources that are only available once, including the budget stabilization account and a four-year suspension in the 1 percent property tax cap. We will not be able to rely on this money the next time we create a biennial budget and will have to find new revenue to supplant it.
- Taxes go up in some districts: Other districts in the state – including Issaquah, Renton, and Seattle – will see their property taxes go up. This adds to the tax increase from the recent Sound Transit proposal passed by voters.
- Delays implementation of Initiative 1351: The budget does not fund the staffing units to decrease class sizes as passed by I-1351. However, it does not repeal the measure and leaves it open to be funded in the future.
- This proposal does not address the teacher shortage we see across the state.
- Curtails local bargaining for health benefits: Health care for school district employees will no longer be under the jurisdiction of local collective bargaining. All school district employees will fall under a newly formed State Employee Benefit Board (SEBB) administered by the Health Care Authority (HCA).
We just received details on this complicated package yesterday, and I’m still working with staff to get answers to some of my questions and questions I have received from constituents. Here are some of the issues I am still working through:
- What is the impact to salary schedule for senior educators?
- How will our districts be affected by the additional funding multipliers for Learning Access Program funds for high-poverty schools?
- How will the regionalization multiplier factor into the funding our districts will receive?
- What portion of the increased funding comes from state dollars and what from existing local enrichment levies?
- Estimated net state and local school district funding changes by district
- Tax rate analysis by district
- Summary of K12 basic education program allocations and additional support (sent yesterday)
- Estimated impacts by district (sent yesterday)
- McCleary solution handout (sent yesterday)
- HB 2242: Education funding bill
- Education funding bill report
- K-12 funding documents
- Operating budget documents
Please continue to send your questions and comments. We are moving quickly but your input is important. Thank you for your continued engagement and concern for our kids and schools,