In 2010, the state legislature passed SHB 2776 redefining the state’s program of basic education to lower class sizes across the state and provide all-day kindergarten for our littlest learners. That was a great step forward. But it created a big problem…they required schools to provide these lower class sizes without providing them with more classroom space! In 2016, the state Supreme Court ordered that the Legislature must provide for the actual cost to reduce these class sizes – including the cost of classroom construction. Unfortunately, this promise remains unfulfilled today, despite that legislators claim to have accomplished “fully funding” K-3 class size reductions and all-day kindergarten.
During the 2017 legislative session, the Legislature failed to pass a capital budget, unprecedented in recent history. The capital budget was expected to provide $20 million to improve distressed schools in Seattle, $15 million to replace North Pines Middle School in Spokane Valley, $6 million for public school emergency repairs and equal access improvements for disabled students, $620,000 for upgrades to the Washington State School for the Blind and $1.2 million for the School for Childhood Deafness and Hearing Loss in Vancouver. Students across the state suffered the consequences of legislators’ failure to pass a capital budget.
Leaders from around the state, including Gov. Jay Inslee, have called on the Legislature to ensure school construction projects move forward. Our kids have a constitutional right to an amply funded basic education, and the legislature’s inaction is treading on their rights. By doing nothing, they are doing real harm.
We must ensure our state’s students have safe, healthy, and modern schools –we can’t wait any longer.
UPDATE: On January 18, 2018 legislators passed a capital budget. While that is welcome news, it still doesn’t provide funding for class size reductions.
You can read more about the capital budget and school construction projects from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction here: http://k12.wa.us/SchFacilities/default.aspx