McCleary v. State | KNKX

McCleary v. State

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

The long-running McCleary lawsuit is over now that the state Legislature approved big changes in how the state funds public education. But school districts and teachers’ unions across the state are now trying to figure out what that means for salaries.

Rachel La Corte / AP Photo

School is out, but this is a busy time for school districts and educators at the bargaining table. The Washington Education Association, the statewide teachers’ union, said this year is particularly active for negotiations because of additional funding from the state legislature to satisfy the McCleary school-funding lawsuit.

What should a 21st century public school system look like? Washington’s superintendent of public instruction says it’s time to have that conversation now that the state’s decade-long school funding legal fight is over.

Kyle Stokes / KNKX

The Seattle school district is holding community meetings to get input on two tax levies that will be on the ballot next February, but there’s concern that voters are fed up with higher property taxes.

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State lawmakers head back to Olympia on Monday for the short legislative session. One Democratic state senator says a high priority will be boosting funding for special education.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

It’s been more than five years since the Washington Supreme Court ruled that the state was failing to fully fund basic education and more than a decade since the McCleary lawsuit was originally filed. The McCleary kids have graduated from high school in the meantime.

In Seattle, fundraising by parents has helped to fill the void at some schools. Other, higher-poverty schools don’t have the ability to lean on parents to augment budgets.

Washington state lawmakers will likely have to come up with an extra $1 billion for schools when they convene in January for the 2018 session.

The Washington Supreme Court issued a unanimous order Wednesday that said the state is not on track to fully fund public schools by a court-imposed deadline of September 1, 2018.

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Even though state lawmakers passed a plan this summer to fully fund basic education, Washington's highest court said Wednesday the state still isn't on track to comply with its constitutional duty.

Joe Wolf / Flickr

Washington state’s highest court is now weighing whether to end the long-running McCleary school funding case.

An attorney for the state asked the justices Tuesday to find that the state has now complied by passing an education funding plan, but many groups argue it hasn’t done enough.

The Washington Legislature enacted a new state property tax this year to shift the burden of school funding off local levies. But the question before the state Supreme Court Tuesday was whether Washington lawmakers fully funded schools as required by the court .

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Tuesday is a big day in Olympia for people concerned about school funding issues in Washington. That’s when the state Supreme Court will hold a hearing on whether the legislature has met the court’s requirements to amply fund basic education in the long-running McCleary case.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Groups that advocate for kids with disabilities are weighing in on the state’s education funding plan passed by lawmakers in June. 

They have submitted a friend-of-the-court brief to the Washington state Supreme Court in the McCleary case over education finance, arguing that the funding plan shortchanges kids who need special education.

Elaine Thompson / AP

In a filing to the state Supreme Court, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the education funding plan passed by the legislature in June fulfills the state’s constitutional duty. Ferguson is asking the high court to end the long-running McCleary lawsuit.

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The Seattle school board has adopted a budget for the coming school year. They managed to plug holes to fill a deficit once projected to be $74 million, but a district official said that she’s concerned that in the long term, the state’s new education funding plan doesn’t go far enough.

Elaine Thompson / AP

Across Washington, school officials are putting their own math skills to work as they try to figure out what the state’s new school funding plan means for their budgets. For guidance, they’re turning to the state Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal, who said he’s still working through the numbers himself.

Washington state Senate Republicans and House Democrats are at loggerheads over how to fund schools. Republicans want to replace local school levies with a new state property tax levy. Democrats want a new capital gains tax to generate more money for schools.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

We learn in school that the three branches of government -- the legislative, the executive, and the judicial -- are designed to provide checks and balances on each other.  

To understand what that looks like, a good place to start is the Washington State Legislature, which is being held in contempt by the state Supreme Court for failing to fund basic education.

Washington state lawmakers face a daunting task as they convene on Monday for the 2017 legislative session: how to fully fund public schools by 2018. And that job might have just gotten harder.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee plans to propose significant new investments in education and mental health. The Democrat will roll out his priorities for Washington’s next two-year budget at a series of events beginning Tuesday.

It was nearly a decade ago that the McCleary family sued the state of Washington over school funding. In the years since, the state Supreme Court has sided with the family, found the state in contempt of court and imposed a $100,000 per day fine.

The ongoing fight over school funding in Washington state is heading back to court. A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday before the Washington Supreme Court.

Washington Republicans have said the state Supreme Court’s sanction over school funding “presents a clear threat” to separation of powers. Now the chief justice of the Supreme Court is offering her perspective.

WSDOT / FLICKR

Environmental groups say there’s really just one priority as lawmakers head back to the to the legislature in Olympia next week: no rollbacks. 

Every legislative session, the broad spectrum of green-minded groups in the state gets together to discuss their main issues and work toward achieving them.

Clifford Traisman is a lobbyist with Washington Conservation Voters and a spokesman for the Environmental Council that sets the priorities. For the early session this year, he says it’s pretty simple. They just don’t want things they’ve accomplished to be undone.

photograph provided by Washington's Office of the Secretary of State

Most people do not spend a lot of time thinking about our state constitution.  But, perhaps they should. Recent Washington Supreme Court decisions, including one about charter schools, show how this 126-year-old document still affects our lives.

KPLU Law and Justice Reporter Paula Wissel talks with with University of Washington law professor Hugh Spitzer. He co-wrote what many consider the definitive book on the state constitution.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Tacoma Public Schools' Rosalind Medina doesn't want to leave the impression she's ungrateful for the multi-million dollar windfall her school district will see from the new state budget, chock full of $1.3 billion in new K-12 funding.

But if news of the budget arrived in Tacoma like a check in the mail, it also arrived with a bill.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Lauding recent increases in state education funding, but ultimately admitting they still have more work to do, state lawmakers have filed an update with the state Supreme Court on their progress toward fulfilling the McCleary school funding mandate.

Now, everyone's wondering what the court will do next.

AP Images

For years — decades, even — problems with how local property taxes fund public schools have vexed Washington lawmakers.

Now, they may have mere weeks to solve them.

Lawmakers are still hashing out a property tax system overhaul that seeks to end school districts' reliance on local levies to pay expenses the state's supposed to cover. Coming up with a solution was a key demand of the state Supreme Court's McCleary decision.

But lawmakers from both parties didn't file bills addressing the levy issue until mid-April. Kim Justice, senior budget analyst with the left-leaning Washington Budget and Policy Center, says they've been procrastinating.

Though the Washington Legislature closed its regular session without reaching a budget, it remains on track to fulfill the state Supreme Court's schools funding mandate, the state's top lawyer said in a legal filing Monday.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson, charged with defending state lawmakers in the ongoing McCleary case, wrote a progress report to the court saying spending proposals from both the state House and Senate include "historic" increases in K-12 education funding.

Now all that's left, Ferguson argued, is to reach a deal in the special session which starts Wednesday.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Seattle teachers will decide whether they want to walk off the job for one day, likely in early May, to express frustration over the progress of state budget talks in Olympia.

Building leaders for the Seattle Education Association, voted Monday night to recommend the union's 5,000 members join at least eight other local teachers unions in western Washington that have already approved similar "one-day strikes."

John Froschauer / AP Photo

For all the things that divide Washington state lawmakers' competing budget plans, K-12 education spending doesn't appear to be one of them.

Budget proposals from Senate Republicans, House Democrats and from Gov. Jay Inslee have all called for between $1.3 billion and $1.4 billion in new schools spending to satisfy the Washington Supreme Court's McCleary funding decision.

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