I heard this on KOMO-tv and it apparently came off the AP wire; Seattle is joining 29 other districts including Kent, Spokane, and Federal Way to sue the state to demand they pay the full cost of education. The trial starts tomorrow and is supposed to run for 6 weeks.
From the AP story:
"Attorneys for both sides say the economy will have little or no influence on the outcome of the non-jury trail, scheduled to begin on the first day of the school year for many district and to continue for six weeks of testimony in King County Superior Court before Judge John Erlick.
Senior Assistant Attorney General David Stolier said both sides will be arguing its interpretation of a state Supreme Court ruling from more than 30 years ago in Seattle School District v. State that said Washington state must fully pay for its definition of basic education.
"In some ways this case is a continuation," Stolier said."
Apparently, 45 out of the 50 states have sued their state governments over their methods for paying for education.
What are the issues?
Among the issues in play:
- Is the state funding the definition of basic education it came up with in the 1970s?
- Has there been a de facto expansion of the definition that was never set down in law?
- Do the courts have any place wading into the specifics of education funding, or is this area strictly for the Legislature?
The 2009 state Legislature passed a bill aiming to reform the way the state distributes education dollars, but did not actually implement the reforms. Instead, it has formed several task forces to decide how to take the next step.
Here was an interesting paragraph that is pertinent to several discussions here:
"State and federal dollars pay most, but not all the cost to educate Washington's students. The rest of the money comes from local tax levies, donations and PTA fundraisers. Meanwhile, the Washington Constitution makes education the state's highest priority."
PTA fundraising money is counted as part of how we pay for basic education? I certainly thought we might just be getting to this point but this article seems to say it already is included.
There is no announcement of this action at the SPS website.