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8/15/2017 | TACOMA, Washington
Read about the district's proposed 2017-2018 budget; take our budget survey
We appreciate the attempt by the 2017 Washington State
Legislature to address its Constitutional and Supreme Court-mandated
requirement "to make ample provision for the education of all
children residing within its borders."
Despite rhetoric that the
Legislature’s action had improved education funding for our state’s children,
our analysis clearly shows the opposite.
Due to multiple funding
formula changes, new mandates for how school districts can spend state monies
and elimination of flexibility for spending local voter-approved levies, Tacoma
will receive less money per student in education funding beginning in 2018. The
effects of this lost funding will compound year after year.
This decline in funding plus
lost flexibility to spend money on innovative programs and initiatives that
have boosted Tacoma’s academic improvements and graduation rate over the last
10 years has the potential to negatively impact Tacoma student achievement.
Moving forward, we join with
Seattle Public Schools and other school districts that have identified the
harmful impacts of the Legislature’s action to immediately begin rectifying the
inequities when the Legislature reconvenes in January 2018. To Tacoma Public
Schools, the new funding formulas and limits take a big step backward from the
State Supreme Court’s mandate in the well-known McCleary Lawsuit requiring the
Legislature to fully fund education.
Tacoma Public Schools would
have a better financial future if the Legislature had not made any changes in
the funding formula for education. Tacoma Public Schools will not be able to
continue all existing, effective programs under the new state formula.
For the upcoming school
year’s proposed budget, which the Tacoma School Board will review, discuss and
vote on this month, Tacoma plans to use $5 million in reserves to pay for
ongoing expenses—an unsustainable practice—and institute a selective hiring
freeze for positions outside the classroom.
In February 2018, Tacoma Public Schools also must place on
the ballot for voters the renewals of two levies—for maintenance and operations
and technology—which voters approved in 2014. Despite new restrictions on how
much Tacoma can ask from voters and new restrictions on how Tacoma can spend
those monies, local voter support has never been more critical.
Our conservative analysis below shows that, even if Tacoma
voters approve the full levy in February, Tacoma will lose $151 per student
beginning in the 2018-2019 school year, $121 per student in 2019-2020 and $154
per student in 2020-2021.
All along, the stated intention of the Legislature and the
Supreme Court’s decision was to add new money to improve education across the
state—not reduce it. An added concern is the inequity of Tacoma
Public Schools, the state’s largest high poverty district, losing funding.
These elements of the new Legislative funding formula pose
the greatest problems:
Despite the future uncertainty, Tacoma Public Schools will
present its proposed 2017-2018 school year budget to the School Board August
17. The Board will then consider using $5 million of reserves for
the ongoing expenses with a vote for acceptance of the budget August 24.
The School Board will take public comment on the proposed budget at both
Tacoma Public Schools is the only district designated an Innovation Zone by Washington State. A leader in implementing innovative schools and programs to meet the diverse needs of every student, every day, TPS serves approximately 30,000 students from preschool to grade 12 and at nearly 5000 employees is one of the largest employers in Tacoma. Learn more...
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