Statewide K-12 education funding plans discussed by Aberdeen school board

Aberdeen School Board members learn about major proposals floating around Olympia

Members of the Aberdeen School Board on Tuesday learned about proposals by state elected officials meant to bring funding of K-12 education in line with the 2012 McCleary State Supreme Court decision, which ordered big changes in how basic education is funded. And those changes are supposed to be coming soon.

Information about the three major funding plans was provided to local school district representatives during the Washington State School Directors’ Association legislative conference earlier this month in Olympia. That information was provided to local school board members during their Tuesday meeting.

Board member Jamie Walsh, whose husband Jim is a first-term Republican in the House of Representatives, went to the conference and said she was “making a case for” Senate Bill 5607, which guarantees at least $12,500 in funding for each student. It sets a statewide limit of $1.80 per $1,000 of assessed valuation on local levies for basic education needs, she said.

Teachers who perform well would be rewarded but the bill targets those who don’t with the threat of dismissal. It would also prohibit teacher strikes, according to material provided to the board.

“Keep an open mind and give that version a chance,” Walsh said about the GOP-sponsored bill after making note of the per-pupil funding level.

SB 5607 has made its way out of the Senate and into the House. It’s currently sitting in the House Committee on Appropriations, according to the Legislature’s web site.

The Washington Education Association has endorsed something different: Gov. Jay Inslee’s K-12 funding proposal, which would provide pay increases for all public school employees, including substantially raising beginning teachers’ base pay and increasing health benefit allocations.

Another plan, House Bill 1843, awaits a floor vote. This proposal, authored by House Democrats, would delay changes to formulas used to calculate maximum maintenance and operation levy authority in each district as required by the McCleary decision so local districts would have a better idea how to budget for the coming year. Those changes would occur not in 2018, but 2019.

The state must pay school employees’ salaries and stop depending on local levies that can vary widely in cost, according to McCleary.

The board took no action related to the briefings.