NEWS to Supreme Court: ‘Let experience be the judge’

The Network for Excellence in Washington Schools today urged the Washington State Supreme Court to reject the State’s claim that the State’s new funding formulas amply fund basic education for all Washington children as required by our state constitution.

While acknowledging that the Supreme Court can now end the State’s appeal of the final judgment entered after the 2009 McCleary trial, NEWS maintained in a brief filed today that actual evidence does not yet exists to conclusively prove the State’s allegation that its new formulas amply fund all of our K-12 schools.

“The question of whether the State’s new funding levels do in fact comply with the ample funding for all children mandate of Article IX, section 1 (of the constitution) is a question to be resolved another day in another case — not a question to be gagged and buried here with a speculative factual finding of compliance today,” the NEWS brief stated.

NEWS pointed out that the Court itself maintained that it is, at this point, “willing to allow the State’s program to operate and let experience be the judge of whether it proves adequate.”

“Plaintiffs want to be clear: they do not believe the State’s new funding formulas provide ample State funding,” the brief noted, adding the obvious point that there was not any evidence in the 2009 trial concerning school districts’ actual experience with the State’s new funding formulas adopted after that trial.

NEWS also pointed out that the State failed to fully pay the $100,000-a-day fine that the Court imposed on the State after a contempt ruling in the McCleary case. With interest, the State’s appropriation for those accrued fines fell more than $18 million short.

“This $18 million shortfall might seem akin to a ‘rounding error’ to government officials in charge of an over $40 billion biennium State budget. But $18 million is not trivial” to a struggling public school, the NEWS brief noted. However, NEWS said that declaring the $18 million sanctions amount still left unfunded does not require a continuation of the McCleary Supreme Court proceeding.

Read the NEWS brief.