Supreme Court To State: Figure Out Education Funding By April

Jan 13, 2014

The Washington state Supreme Court has found that state lawmakers have once again failed to make significant progress toward fully funding basic education, and ordered the Legislature to submit a K-12 funding plan by April 30.

The high court issued the order on Thursday after reviewing the periodic progress report lawmakers are required to submit to the court as part of its 2012 McCleary, et al. v. State of Washington decision, which found that the state is failing to make "ample provision" for basic education as required by the state constitution.

The court found that the Legislature made some "meaningful steps" to address its funding mandate in 2013 compared to the year before, but is still so far off track that lawmakers "cannot realistically claim to have made significant progress."

With time running out on the 2018 deadline, the court wrote that "it is clear that the pace of progress must quicken," and ordered lawmakers to spend the upcoming short legislative session hashing out a year-by-year plan to phase in full K-12 funding over the next four years.

In written statements, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and the state’s largest teachers’ union echoed the court’s call for stepped-up funding – and said they weren’t surprised by the finding that the state is still falling short.

Meanwhile, Randy Dorn, the state Superintendent of Public Instruction, released a draft bill to raise state sales and property taxes beginning in 2018 in the event the Legislature fails to meet its school funding deadline.