Thursday, May 26, 2016

Dorn Weighs In (Again) on McCleary

In an op-ed in the Times, State Superintendent Randy Dorn again points out what is (seemingly) obvious to everyone but some members of the legislature.

1) Levies are not a viable source of revenue for schools because they are voter-approved (and can be taken away by voters.)  As he says, "This is the core issue in McCleary."  That the legislature doesn't like that some districts, like Seattle, use those funds to pay for teacher salaries goes over like a lead balloon.  What are districts to do when the state doesn't fully-fund their work?  Where are we at on this topic?
The legislature cires the 2016 supplemental operating budget.  It requires that, by April 30, 2017, an education-funding task force determine if the state has met its obligation or legislature will be introduced to extend the unconstitutional use of levies at least a year.
2) Class size.  We have the 5th largest average class size in the country. I-1351, passed in 2014, for smaller class sizes was an unfunded mandate.  The legislature is choosing to fund for K-3 only but Dorn says, "A complete McCleary plan must include all grades." 

3) Teacher salaries.  Dorn says:
The state dug itself a hole with the 2015-2017 operating budget, The cost-of-living increase for teachers applied only to personnel funded by the state.  School districts are being forced to use levy money to provide similar increases to staff funded through local funds.
He also says that it is not the Supreme Court imposing deadlines; he says the legislature, in passing ESHB 2261 in 2009, said this:
The Legislature intends that the redefined program of basic education and funding for the program be fully implemented by 2018.
Dorn is submitting a friend-of-the-court brief for McCleary.  He's asking the Court to consider sanctions against individual legislators or shutting down schools. 

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