Washington Research Council considers reasons some school districts question adequacy of Legislature’s McCleary solution

In Monday’s newsletter, we noted that some major school districts contend they’ll be worse off under the Legislature’s solution to the state Supreme Court’s McCleary mandate to fund basic education.

With school starting in just a few weeks, some districts are questioning the adequacy of lawmakers’ solution to the court’s mandate to fully fund basic education. 
 
The state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) estimates that, factoring in the reduction in local levy dollars, the net influx of new money to school districts will be about $5.5 billion over the next four years. That’s the amount of money above and beyond the cost of maintaining existing programs, according to the agency.

Yet some districts are taking issue with OSPI’s calculations…

Chris Reykdal, the state superintendent of public instruction, said he isn’t sure yet why some districts’ analyses of the school funding plan don’t match the ones put out by his office.
The Washington Research Council tackles the reasons local districts’ analyses may be off. The WRC post is short; we recommend you read it in its entirety. But here’s the crux:

Thus, the state’s estimates of the net funding impact from EHB 2242 [the new funding bill] are compared to a world where districts can levy up to 24 percent. This is appropriate. Staff budget analysts must use current law as the basis for comparison in any fiscal impact analysis. Even if it is probable that a future Legislature would again extend the levy cliff so that districts would be able to continue to levy 28 percent, staff cannot make that assumption.

It seems like the districts are, though. They appear to be comparing their funding under EHB 2242 to what they wish and hope they would have in the absence of EHB 2242.

…It would certainly be easier to evaluate the warnings from the districts if they would start with the same assumptions as the state—assumptions that are based on what the law actually would have been.

We’ll surely hear more on this in the coming weeks. The WRC analysis helps put the issues into perspective.