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Education Lab is a project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: Initiative 1351

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December 31, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Some education news to watch for in the upcoming year

As the final days of 2014 tick by, here are five of the education stories we plan to keep an eye on in 2015:

From left, Kelsey McCleary, 20, mother and plaintiff Stephanie McCleary, and son Carter McCleary, 15. Photo by Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times.

From left, Kelsey McCleary, 20, mother and plaintiff Stephanie McCleary, and son Carter McCleary, 15. Photo by Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times.

1. More money for schools

Lawmakers in Olympia will wrestle this session with how to meet a court order to give more state dollars to public schools and pay for a sweeping class size initiative that voters approved in the November election. Some lawmakers say they’re ready to send Initiative 1351 back to voters with a price tag and a proposal for how to pay for it.

But lawmakers will have a tough time dodging the state Supreme Court’s unanimous September decision to hold the Legislature in contempt for failing to ramp up public school spending quickly enough, which the court ordered back in 2012. The court gave lawmakers until the day after the session to come up with a plan to increase school spending to the required levels or convince justices they shouldn’t issue sanctions.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: 2015, Initiative 1351, Larry Nyland

December 16, 2014 at 6:01 PM

Gov’s plan would spur court sanctions, says state schools chief

Washington state schools chief Randy Dorn lambasted Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposed education budget Tuesday, saying it falls far short of what the state Supreme Court has ordered lawmakers to do when it comes to how much money they provide to public schools.

In his budget, released Monday, Inslee said he wants to pay for all-day public kindergarten and reduce average class sizes in grades K-3. But he did not set any money aside for reducing the number of students per class  in grades 4-12, which voters approved in the November election. And while Inslee suggests reinstating cost-of-living raises for teachers, Dorn says that’s not enough.

To meet the court’s requirements, Dorn said, lawmakers must fund a basic education for all students, without school districts having to contribute to those costs through local property tax levies.

“This issue is not complicated,” Dorn wrote. “Over and over again our courts have ruled that relying on levies to fund a major portion of our education system is unconstitutional.”

Dorn said Inslee’s proposal, if adopted, will lead the Supreme Court to sanction lawmakers.

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Comments | Topics: class size, Education budget, Initiative 1351

December 15, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Base teacher pay on local market rates? Issaquah lawmaker says yes

Rep. Chad Magendanz, the ranking Republican on the state House education committee, wants to pay teachers based on local market rates and likes the idea of sending a recent class-size initiative back to voters with a price tag — and a proposed source of funding.

Those are among the ideas the Issaquah lawmaker talked about during on a visit to The Seattle Times last week.

Rep. Chad Magendanz, R-Issaquah

Rep. Chad Magendanz, R-Issaquah

State lawmakers, he said, will be hard pressed to find enough money to cover what’s required under the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision, as well as the new class-size initiative that voters passed in November. He also pushed for a host of teacher compensation reforms, not just local labor market adjustments but also better raises for teachers earlier in their careers.

Here are Magendanz’s thoughts on some big issues facing Washington education today:

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Chad Magendanz, Initiative 1351, McCleary