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Board backs bill to study education finance

Recent lawsuits filed against the state of Washington claim the state is not fulfilling its duty to educate all of its students. Several bills currently under consideration in the State Senate and the House of Representatives stand poised to ask why.

This proposed study of education finance includes House Bill 2048 and Senate Bill 5191. The latter, currently being reviewed by the Ways and Means Committee, proposes a comprehensive study of how much it costs to maintain a K-12 school in Washington state.

The South Kitsap School District (SKSD) School Board voted Monday to approve a resolution proclaiming the district’s support of SB-1591.

According to the text of the bill, SB-5191 calls for the creation of an executive committee to conduct “a comprehensive K-12 education finance study” that would address the current state and local financial system and formulas, and “how those requirements are affected by the goal under education reform to provide all students with the opportunity to achieve the state standards.”

The committee will also consider how the current system might be changed and is required to review the educational funding systems is at least five other states.

According to the proposed bill, the committee will include the governor or the governor’s designee, the superintendent of public instruction or the superintendent’s designee, one member from the Senate Democratic Caucus and one member from the Senate Republican Caucus appointed by the president of the Senate, one member from the House Democratic Caucus and one member from the House Republican Caucus appointed by the speaker of the House of Representatives.

The study is scheduled to be completed by Dec. 10.

“They haven’t really done a study on education since the 1970s,” said SKSD School Board President Scott Huff. “A lot has changed since the ’70s.”

Huff said he believes state legislators are not aware of how much educating the state’s children actually costs.

“We’re no longer with the bell curve,” Huff said. “Now everyone has to pass.”

Huff said the reason the board voted to support the bill is that a rigorous study of K-12 education finances would prove what school districts have been telling the state for years — districts are not adequately funded to do their job.

“Right now it’s our word against theirs,” Huff said. “The Legislature is saying we’re fully funded, but we’re not. If a study comes out that says that more money is needed, that would give more leverage to the school districts.”

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