Category Archives: Early Learning & K-12 Education

2015: Best year for students and teachers in decades

Sen. Bruce Dammeier, vice chair of the Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee answers the question, “What have lawmakers done for students this year?”

Senate education budget facts:

  • Greatest new investment in K-12 of any budget in state history.
  • 47 percent of the budget dedicated to K-12 education — a share not seen since the 1980s.
  • New spending 4:1 for education (Senate budget v2.0)
    • Follows 30 years when education was put behind growth in non-education spending by a 2:1 margin over education.
  • Bipartisan efforts invest in all-day kindergarten, reduces class size in kindergarten through 3rd grade and fully funds maintenance supplies and operation costs.
  • $2.7 billion total proposed spending increase for K-12 education, up from $15.3 billion in 2013-15 to $18 billion in 2015-17 – an 18% increase.
  • $440 million in additional teacher pay and benefits; $230 million for voter-approved teacher COLAs and $210 million for pension benefits.
  • Builds over 2,100 classrooms to lower class size for K-3 grades
  • Additional $1.3 billion toward basic education addressing the McCleary court decision.
  • Per-pupil funding will see an overall 33% increase.
  • This represents a fundamental shift in priorities not seen in 30 years since the Majority Coalition Caucus started governing in the Senate in 2013.

Education Funding Facts:

Year K-12 Funding Changes COLA?
2009-11 $340 million CUT No
2011-13 $652 million (below maintenance level) No
2013-15 $1.6 billion increase No
2015-17 (proposed) $2.7 billion increase Yes

School Superintendents speak out on finishing the state budget on time

“School districts depend so much on the Legislature to complete their work on time so that we can complete our work.  Whether it’s hiring teachers to reduce class size, adding more sections of full-day kindergarten, or purchasing busses, until the Legislature approves a budget, we are unable to move forward with our planning and decision-making.  If the budget is delayed too much, this has the potential to negatively impact our students.”

~ Dave Bond, Superintendent, Kennewick School District 

“A delayed final budget negatively impacts every facet of our district’s operation, including recruitment and hiring, program development, training, purchase of new curriculum and materials and expanding community partnerships.”

~ Frank Hewins, Superintendent, Franklin Pierce School District

“School districts are extremely dependent upon the legislature completing the budget process as expeditiously as possible for a number of very important reasons. The necessity of determining the funding available for staffing is primary. Washington competes regionally and or nationally for qualified teachers. We are currently experiencing high rates of requirements and delays in the budget process that place our state at a great disadvantage. Many budget items once determined by the legislature have additional costs locally without knowing the state budget parameters for COLAs or additional requirements like assessments, and unforeseen costs, can be a significant unplanned cost in the local district budget. Instructional materials purchases and technology upgrades, which have critical timelines during the summer months, often wait and are not in place if the budget process at the state level is extended. In order to plan with clear intention and to align our work with the goals of the state and our local school board having the state budget in place on time is critical.”

~ Tim Yeomans, Superintendent, Puyallup School District