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Legislature heads to court on education finance

  Law Center  -   POSTED: 2014/09/01 15:39


The Washington Supreme Court is marking the beginning of school with a mandatory assembly for the Legislature on education finance.

The court has ordered lawmakers to come to court on Wednesday to explain why they haven't followed its orders to fix the way Washington pays for public education.

Lawmakers, the governor and others say the court needs to be patient and give the Legislature more time to fulfil the orders in the 2012 McCleary decision.

Thomas Ahearne, the attorney for the coalition that sued the state over education funding, says the Legislature has made so little progress toward meeting the goal that only more pressure from the court will make it happen.

The McCleary decision said lawmakers are not meeting their constitutional responsibility to fully pay for basic education and they are relying too much on local tax-levy dollars to balance the education budget.

The court commended the Legislature for passing some reforms in the K-12 system and for starting to pay for them. The McCleary decision orders the Legislature to finish paying for the reforms, which may add more than $4 billion to the state's biennial budget, according to some government estimates.

The Legislature was given until the 2017-18 school year to fix the problem.

Among the reforms awaiting payment: all-day kindergarten in every school; more instructional hours for high school students to help them earn 24 credits to graduate; pupil transportation fully supported by state dollars; a new formula for school staffing levels, smaller classes in the lower grades; and more state support for school equipment and supplies.



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