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8/21/2018 | TACOMA, Washington
Carla Santorno, Superintendent of Tacoma Public Schools
No doubt you have heard about the seven-year-long state Supreme Court case called McCleary. The court repeatedly told our state to fully fund education. Then in June this year, the Supreme Court decided that funding changes made by the state legislature had solved the problem. Case dismissed. That was a mistake. The funding formula put in place by the legislature created winners and losers. Some school districts—mostly those in wealthy communities—won big financial windfalls. Districts like Tacoma and Yakima with high-poverty urban neighborhoods actually lose funding in both the short-term and the long-term.How bad is it?
How does the new funding formula go wrong? Two ways:
Where this hurts us right now? Tacoma has prided itself at being near the top of the list in the Puget Sound region for competitive teachers’ salaries—and it has paid off in our ability to recruit and retain the best teacher force. All of us expected the outcome of the McCleary Supreme Court case to deliver ample and sustainable funding that included much more money for teacher salaries. However, the new funding structure adopted by the legislature did not actually raise overall funding across the board. Instead, the new funding adjusts funding levels in every district, and districts like Tacoma, Yakima and others are harmed.We are now at the bargaining table with our teachers, where we want to stay competitive in the marketplace. Two things are restricting us, which will close the salary gap on our competitive edge. Allow me to get technical for a minute.
I, and certainly our teachers, expected the end of McCleary would mean more funding for Tacoma, not less.I am not a lone voice in the wilderness on this issue.The League of Education Voters (LEV), our state’s watchdog education advocacy group, in July did its own independent analysis of the impacts of the 2018 legislative action on school districts. Check it out at educationvoters.org.It mapped every district in Washington. The LEV analysis shows Lake Washington School District in Redmond will receive a funding increase in local levy and state funding of 29 percent. Tacoma will receive only 5 percent. That’s a huge disparity.No wonder that LEV lists its Top Two action items for the 2019 Legislature as:
Our local legislators—Reps. Laurie Jinkins, Jake Fey, Christine Kilduff, Steve Kirby, Dick Muri and Sens. Jeannie Darneille, Steve Conway and Steve O’Ban—have fought for us. They can’t do it alone. The solutions for Tacoma and other districts statewide require legislators from across the state to come together to fix the inequities.Our district, schools, principals, teachers and other staff have come together over the last several years to increase our graduation rate to 86.1 percent—well-above the state average—by focusing our resources and efforts where we know they will make a difference.In the wake of this reality, my commitment to you is that Tacoma Public Schools will:
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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