Washington Districts Will Look Locally to Meet Funding Gap

Last Updated: March 26, 2010

This article appeared in the March 2010 Rural Policy Matters.

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A controversial proposal reported in February RSFN (See http://www.ruraledu.org/articles.php?id=2414) has passed the Washington legislature and many education advocates in the state fear it will increase the disparities between property-rich and property-poor districts. The new legislation lifts levy lids, or limits on local education revenues in school districts, to allow districts greater ability to tap local citizens for education funding. Current levy revenues in Washington range from 0 to 33.67% of each district’s state and federal funding. The levy legislation will allow districts to raise levies an additional 4%.

The levy lid has been lifted over the years from an initial limit that would be equal to 10% of a district’s state allocation. Left in place by the legislation was levy equalization, which is the method by which poorer districts can get additional funding from the state to help mitigate property value differences. See June 2009 RPM for in-depth coverage of these equalization issues. (http://www.ruraledu.org/articles.php?id=2242)

Legislators have admitted the move is a flawed solution to current budget shortfalls and that ultimately the state must increase its support of education. A legislative work group is scheduled to meet over the summer to address disparity concerns.

Read more:

Local coverage of the Senate vote which finalized the legislation:

Coverage of the different impacts levy collection has on various districts in Washington:

Read more from the March 2010 Rural Policy Matters.