School Funding in Washington: What’s at the Core of the Problem?
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School Funding in Washington: What’s at the Core of the Problem?

The school funding landscape in
Washington has changed dramatically. Although the state recently provided additional funding, many school districts are facing big budget challenges. So, what’s at the core of the funding issue
and how do we take a bite out of the problem? Well, part of the dilemma is that
it’s not an apples to apples comparison. Every district even districts right next
door to each other are affected differently. Meet Jim. He’s the
superintendent in a small 2,000 student district. The state allocated a one size fits all salary for teachers but in his rural community, many of his staff are long timers and make a higher wage. Local levies used to help bridge the gap
but now the state caps the ability for districts to raise money locally at one
dollar fifty cents per one thousand dollars of assessed property value.
Jim worries it won’t be enough to cover salaries and other important student
services. Also Jim’s district no longer receives money from the state to help
with lower property values in his community. Meet Sue. As
the superintendent of a district with 24,000 students she’s affected by the
funding changes differently. Her community values performing arts, high
tech classes and AP courses in their schools which are paid for out of local
levy dollars. In her district, 18 percent of her entire budget comes from local
levy dollars but like Jim her levy funding has also been cut. Sue wonders
how she’s going to pay for the quality staff and services her district is accustomed to. The schools in her district are allotted enough funding for four safety and security positions by the state yet the district currently employs
36 officers to keep 38 schools safe. What’s more it’s a similar situation for
school nurses Sue’s neighboring school district is
receiving additional funds for salaries to compensate for higher property values
but her district doesn’t qualify making it harder to attract top staff. Much larger school districts are negatively impacted too. While their budgets are much
bigger their percentage of loss to the bottom line is still staggering. What does all this mean for education in Washington? Nearly every school district in our state is grappling with the possibility
that they simply won’t have enough funding for fruitful programs for
students now and in the years to come Contact your local school district to
find out about the hard choices your education leaders are making so that our
apple seeds can grow and prosper.

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