Education

Washington High Court Tells Lawmakers: Show Us The Money

By Daarel Burnette II — November 16, 2017 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Washington’s supreme court on Wednesday agreed that the state’s legislature has come up with an adequate way to boost teacher pay—as the state’s court demanded it do five years ago—but that the money won’t arrive in teachers’ pockets soon enough.

The state’s legislature has been pushing the court’s patience for years since the court’s 2012 McCleary v. Washington ruling that K-12 funding formula was inadequate. It appears the court’s justices are just about fed up with waiting for a new formula to actually go into effect.

The legislature last year came up with a new statewide property tax in order to boost the base salaries of the state’s public school teachers as a way to satisfy the McCleary ruling. But the $7.3 billion needed to pay for that increase in salaries won’t reach teachers’ pockets until the 2019-20 school year—a year after the court’s deadline.

That timing doesn’t satisfy the justices which has already fined the state more than $82 million for missing its many deadlines.

“The program of basic education cannot be said to be fully implemented by Sept. 1, 2018, when it puts off full funding of basic education salaries until the 2019-20 school year,” the court wrote in its Nov. 15 ruling. “If compliance by 2019-20 is close enough, why not 2020-21 or the following year?”

Legislators admit that they will miss the 2018 deadline but say it takes time to set up a new formula, collect the money, and then distribute that money to schools.

“The last thing I want to see is this thing jammed into place so quickly that it doesn’t work or creates more problems than it fixes,” said Democratic House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan in response to the latest ruling, echoing a similar argument the state’s attorney general made in court.

The court didn’t buy it.

“The court’s constitutional responsibility is to the school children of this state,” the court wrote. “We cannot erode that consitutional right by saying that the state is now ‘close enough’ to constitutional.”

The court said by the start of the 2018-19 school year, teachers should see their salaries rise. And, knowing legislators’ propensity to drag their feet into special sessions, the court said it needs to see a report by April 9 detailing the plan or else it will ramp up the sanctions already imposed.

Speaking of, whatever happened to that $100,000 the legislature was supposed to be fined for every day it is in session and doesn’t come up with a plan?

Turns out the legislature never set it aside, giving it instead to districts to spend.

That especially upset the nine-member elected supreme court, which said that it “expects its directives to be obeyed.”

“And since the court has ordered the payment of sanctions into a dedicated account, the state may not expend the funds in that account without the court’s authorization, even if up to this point the state has kept only an accounting of the accumulating sanctions rather than actually establishing an account,” the court said.


Don’t miss another State EdWatch post. Sign up here to get news alerts in your email inbox. And make sure to follow @StateEdWatch on Twitter for the latest news from state K-12 policy and politics.

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Data Webinar
Education Insights with Actionable Data to Create More Personalized Engagement
The world has changed during this time of pandemic learning, and there is a new challenge faced in education regarding how we effectively utilize the data now available to educators and leaders. In this session
Content provided by Microsoft
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Accelerate Learning with Project-Based Learning
Earlier this year, the George Lucas Educational Foundation released four new studies highlighting how project-based learning (PBL) helps accelerate student learning—across age groups, multiple disciplines, and different socio-economic statuses. With this year’s emphasis on unfinished
Content provided by SmartLab Learning
School & District Management Live Online Discussion Principal Overload: How to Manage Anxiety, Stress, and Tough Decisions
According to recent surveys, more than 40 percent of principals are considering leaving their jobs. With the pandemic, running a school building has become even more complicated, and principals' workloads continue to grow. If we

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education California Makes Ethnic Studies a High School Requirement
California is among the first in the nation to require students to take a course in ethnic studies to get a diploma starting in 2029-30.
4 min read
FILE - In this Jan. 22, 2020, file photo, Democratic Assembly members, from left, James Ramos, Chris Holden Jose Medina, and Rudy Salas, Jr., right, huddle during an Assembly session in Sacramento, Calif. Medina's bill to make ethnic studies a high school requirement was signed into law by California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
Education California Requires Free Menstrual Products in Public Schools
The move comes as women’s rights advocates push nationwide for affordable access to pads, tampons, and other items.
1 min read
Tammy Compton restocks tampons at Compton's Market, in Sacramento, Calif., on June 22, 2016. California public schools and colleges must stock their restrooms with free menstrual products under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.
Tammy Compton restocks tampons at Compton's Market, in Sacramento, Calif., on June 22, 2016. California public schools and colleges must stock their restrooms with free menstrual products under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.
Rich Pedroncelli/AP
Education Florida to Dock School District Salaries for Requiring Masks
Florida is set to dock salaries and withhold funding from local school districts that defied Gov. Ron DeSantis' ban on mask mandates.
2 min read
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee/AP
Education More Than 120,000 U.S. Kids Had Caregivers Die During Pandemic
The toll has been far greater among Black and Hispanic Americans, a new study suggests.
3 min read
FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021 file photo, a funeral director arranges flowers on a casket before a service in Tampa, Fla. According to a study published Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, by the medical journal Pediatrics, the number of U.S. children orphaned during the COVID-19 pandemic may be larger than previously estimated, and the toll has been far greater among Black and Hispanic Americans. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)