Category Archives: What’s New

NEWS to Supreme Court: “The eyes of Washington public school children are upon you.”

NEWS attorney Tom Ahearne prepares for the hearing as members of the Venema and McCleary families look on from the front row.

In a hearing before the Washington State Supreme Court today, NEWS and the State of Washington presented two sharply divergent views of whether or not the State has finally complied with the mandates of McCleary – each side facing tough questions from the Court. NEWS argued the Legislature has failed to appropriate “ample funding” as mandated by the State Constitution for every element of basic education – from teacher salaries to class size reductions to transportation to special education – while the State declared “full implementation, full funding and compliance with Article IX [the ‘paramount duty’ clause].” Watch the hearing on TVW.


Supreme Court sets hearing for October

The Washington State Supreme Court will hear oral arguments from the State and from NEWS at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017, in the Temple of Justice building in Olympia. The State seeks to have the Court’s contempt citation lifted, while NEWS maintains that the State continues to violate the Court’s orders in McCleary. Read the brief NEWS filed in August.


State files post-budget brief with the Supreme Court

The State has filed its required brief with the Washington State Supreme Court, contending the biennial budget adopted by the Legislature at the end of June has met our constitution’s ample funding mandate and the court orders in the McCleary case.” Read the brief NEWS filed in late August. Read the State’s brief.

Once again, the State falls short for kids


Despite claims from elected officials that the recently-adopted biennial budget “fully funds K-12 education for the first time in 30 years,” the State has once again fallen short of complying with the court-ordered mandates of McCleary (as further detailed in our FAQs). Here are a few examples:

  • “$7.3 billion”: While some headlines note a “$7.3 billion” increase in K-12 funding, the State’s own accounting of McCleary items in the school year starting September 2018 reports a less than $1.5 billion increase (before subtracting the local levy funding taken away in the middle of that 2018-2019 school year). A $1.5 billion increase that school year is not compliance with the $7 billion increase assured by the State’s own court testimony and reports. (See the chart at the bottom of the FAQs: $16,000/pupil – $9,024/pupil = $6,976/pupil. $6,976 x over 1 million pupils = nearly $7 billion.)
  • Implementation deadline: The Supreme Court’s December 2012 ruling set 2018 as a “firm deadline for full constitutional compliance” — and then in 2016 gave the State eight extra months to achieve full implementation by adopting the September 1, 2018 deadline date the State had promised. The State itself, on the first page of its analysis of HB 2242, acknowledges it is not fully implemented until the 2019-2020 school year.
  • Compensation increase: The State assured the Supreme Court that it would fund the increase determined by the State’s 2261 Technical Compensation Work Group, and the State subsequently confirmed to the Court that the group’s final report determined an increase of at least $2.1 billion a year would be required to attract and retain competent school personnel. The biennium budget funds nothing close to that.
  • Property tax redistribution: The Supreme Court’s August 2015 Order expressly reminded the State that local levy reform is not part of its McCleary ruling. The 2017 Legislature nonetheless embarked on levy reform to make the underfunding of its public schools more uniform by taking local levy money away from school districts in the middle of the 2018-2019 school year and distributing increased State property tax revenue more uniformly (the levy swipe/swap). More uniform underfunding does not comply with the McCleary ruling’s ample funding mandate.

Please contact us with any questions you may have regarding the 2017 Legislature’s “compliance” with our constitution’s ample funding mandate and the court orders in the McCleary case.

NEWS urges lawmakers to obey the law and fully fund K-12 education

In a memo sent to every legislator the first week of the session, NEWS Board President Michael Dunn explained what the McCleary decision really entails. He urged lawmakers to “have the courage in this legislative session to obey the Supreme Court’s rulings and finally halt the State’s violation of Washington children’s constitutional right to an amply funded education.” Read the memo.