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Wash. Superintendent's Estimate For Ed Funding Nearly Twice That Of Lawmakers'

Ted S. Warren
AP Photo
Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn speaks at a panel discussion in 2013.

Washington's top elected school official is urging state lawmakers to think bigger as they craft a court-ordered plan to increase education funding for the state's K-12 schools.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn this week unveiled a plan to increase education funding by $6.7 billion by the 2017-2018 school year. That's nearly twice as much as the amount state legislative analysts estimate is needed to comply with the landmark McCleary decision. In the 2012 case, the state Supreme Court ordered lawmakers to fully fund K-12 schools by 2018. 

But Dorn says the Legislature's estimate is too low. He proposes raising property taxes to boost teacher salaries and pay for more training days. 

"I'm not talking about giving teachers a pay increase for the job they're doing today. I'm saying to do the reforms that we've passed ... you're going to need time and professional development, and I believe the state has to pay for those extra days," Dorn said.

The state legislative committee will meet in Olympia on Tuesday. The court expects to receive the lawmakers' funding plan on Wednesday.

As Dorn proposed, lawmakers on the 2012 Joint Task Force on Education Funding called for reducing class sizes and providing more money for support staff. The task force estimated the cost of these changes at more than $4.4 billion. During the last legislative session, lawmakers put nearly $1 billion toward that goal.

But Dorn says the state can't implement big changes in education policy, such as revising teacher evaluations, without raising salaries.

"Educators have not had a pay increase in six years," Dorn said. "To think someone would never get a salary increase — I think that has to be a factor."

Kyle Stokes covers the issues facing kids and the policies impacting Washington's schools for KPLU.