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Parents’ Advocacy Group Says Washington’s School Funding Plan Still Shortchanges Schools

Joe Wolf
Franklin High School in Seattle

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.

One of those groups is an advocacy organization called Washington’s Paramount Duty, whose name refers to the state constitution, which says Washington’s paramount duty is to "make ample provision for the education" of all kids who live here.

Summer Stinson, president of Washington’s Paramount Duty and a parent in Seattle, sat in the courtroom for the hearing. She said she was dismayed to hear an attorney for the state, Alan Copsey, explain why the plan from the legislature phases in more state tax dollars over time instead of doing it by next September, the deadline the legislature had agreed to.

“We’re going on almost 11 years now with the McCleary case, so to hear the state talk about ramping up and again delaying the deadline was really frustrating,” Stinson said.

Copsey told the court that what matters is that the legislature has a plan in place – a plan that includes a hike to the state property tax and a restriction on the use of local levies to pay for schools. He said it takes time to build legislative consensus and that this funding shift is a sea change for Washington state in how it funds basic education. 

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.