Judge says state not fully funding basic education

A King County Superior Court judge ruled Thursday, Feb. 4, that the State of Washington is not adequately funding education in the state.

In his ruling in McCleary v. State, dubbed the “Basic Education case,” King County Superior Court Judge John Erlick ordered state legislators to establish the cost of providing all Washington children with a basic education. Erlick also directed the Legislature to show how it will fully and dependably fund basic education.

He indicated that the state’s 2009 education funding measure, House Bill 2261, could be a means to satisfy his direction.

Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna's office will review the decision and determine appropriate next steps

“Judge Erlick rightly recognizes in his ruling the Legislature’s authority to set education funding policy," McKenna said. “The Legislature took positive steps with its 2009 education funding reform efforts, and we understand the decision to suggest those reforms could be the basis for progress in this case."

The case, brought by a coalition of Washington teachers, school districts, community groups and parents in 2007, alleged Washington had not fulfilled its constitutional obligation to fully fund basic education and relied too heavily on local levy funding assistance.

The deadline for appeal will be 30 days after the entry of the judgment.

Last month, senior state budget analyst Isabel Muñoz-Colón visited the Snoqualmie Valley School District, telling local district officials to brace for continued tight budgets. She documented a huge gap between what between what districts spend and what the state funds.

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