Budget & Finance

In Ongoing School Funding Spat, Washington Supreme Court Seeks Answers

By Daarel Burnette II — July 15, 2016 1 min read
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Washington state’s supreme court this week called for the state’s legislature to appear in court Sept. 7 to explain how their “plan-for-a-plan” satisfies the court’s demands for the state to pour more money into its state funding formula, according to the Seattle Times.

Last month, Randy Dorn, Washington state’s superintendent of public instruction, filed a damning brief with the state’s supreme court that demanded that they toughen up with the state’s legislature, which decided this year to figure out a way to spend more on education next year.

The court, which has levied a $100,000-a-day fine on the state until the state comes up with a new formula, wants to hear what the legislature is doing to satisfy its 2012 McCleary v. Washington decision. While the state has poured millions into the formula in recent years to pay for transportation costs and prekindergarten, it has yet to spend more to increase teacher salaries, a key provision of the ruling.

In his brief, Dorn suggested that the court do what Kansas’ supreme court did earlier this year when it threatened to shut the entire school system down unless the legislators came up with a new funding formula, a threat that ultimately worked.

There’s no telling whether Washington’s court will send down such a politically fraught sanction.

In the meantime, Dorn, whose term ends this fall, said he will file a lawsuit against several districts that he says are illegally spending local tax dollars on teacher pay because they don’t receive enough state aid, according to the Associated Press. He didn’t say which districts will be sued, but said he blames the state for the violation in spending, not the districts.

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