The Network for Excellence in Washington Schools (NEWS), of which the Mercer Island School District (MISD) is a member, has released an update regarding progress toward fully funding basic education in Washington, including frequently asked questions about the McCleary decision.
“Responding to the first mandated report in December 2012, the Supreme Court admonished the State for failing to show progress,” the update says. “In January 2014, the Court ordered the State to speed up funding and to provide local school districts the billions of dollars of additional K-12 funding that the State’s own studies have confirmed are needed to cure decades of unconstitutional underfunding – including fully funding salary increases, materials and operations, transportation, and both the staffing and construction costs for full-day kindergarten and K-3 class size reductions.”
During the 2012-13 academic year in the MISD, about $5,725 of the $10,125 in revenue per pupil came from the state. The district’s per pupil revenue from all sources ranks 136th out of 295 districts in Washington state. During the 2013-14 academic year, MISD will receive less than the above estimated $7,646 per pupil from the state because many other districts receive state funds for programs like levy-lid equalization or rural allowances.
Days before the beginning of the current legislative session in Olympia, Wash., the Washington State Supreme Court issued an order that “the pace of progress must quicken” for full funding of basic education in Washington.
The 2012 McCleary v. Washington decision by the state’s highest court ruled that Washington state is not amply funding basic education under the state Constitution. The court has now asked the legislature to submit “a complete plan for fully implementing its program of basic education for each school year between now and the 2017-18 school year” no later than April 30.
NEWS comprises 428 organizations that are committed to improving the quality of public education in Washington state. Members include 202 school districts representing nearly 90 percent of Washington’s public school students. The Mercer Island School Board voted unanimously to renew membership in NEWS on Dec. 12, 2013.