Central Kitsap Reporter


State superintendent not happy with Senate budget

April 8, 2013 · Updated 1:54 PM

April 4 — On Wednesday, the state Senate released its budget proposal for the 2013-15 biennium. Below is a statement from State Superintendent Randy Dorn on the proposal.

On March 28, Gov. Jay Inslee released his budget proposal for the 2013-15 biennium. I thought the Governor’s proposal was a good step forward in putting the state on the path to fully funding basic education by 2018.

The Senate’s budget proposal, on the other hand, is a step back.

The Senate budget doesn’t fund crucial programs, and it uses a dubious budget gimmick to fund some of its enhancements. Additionally, the proposal contradicts the previously stated policy positions of the Senate. Some examples include:

· It does not improve early learning. The Senate says that improving third-grade reading scores is important. But their proposal does not fund any class size reduction in grades K-3, it only increases funding by an average of 10 percent a year for full-day Kindergarten, and it makes minimal improvements in our Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP).  Nothing will improve reading scores more than fully funding all-day Kindergarten and ECEAP, and reducing class sizes in our early grades.

· It eliminates dropout prevention and other student support programs. The Senate says they want to increase graduation rates. But their proposal eliminates 22 student support programs, including several dropout prevention programs, such as Building Bridges, Navigation 101, and Jobs for America’s Graduates, which have been proven effective in reducing dropout rates.

· It changes testing requirements, which will lead to fewer graduates. The Senate says they care about graduation rates. But their proposal assumes that the Smarter Balanced Assessment will be used as the state’s high school graduation requirement. That assessment, though, isn’t designed to be a test to measure high school proficiency, and could lead to as many as 65% of our students not passing.

· It effectively eliminates state funded Career and Technical Education. The Senate says they want to make all students career- and college-ready. But their proposal would cut materials, supplies and operating costs (MSOC) for CTE students. It would give districts less money for those students than for non-CTE students, which would effectively end state funded CTE programs.

· It is not sustainable, responsible budgeting. The Senate says they want responsible budgeting. But they use a gimmick to help fund some of the enhancements in their budget: they unconstitutionally divert money from the common school trust lands to pay for classroom operations. They then fill the hole in the Common School Construction Fund with borrowed money.  In effect, we are paying for operations with the state’s credit card.

While I appreciate that the Senate budget includes significant funding for pupil transportation, and MSOC, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision, that just isn’t enough progress towards full state funding by 2018.  And whatever progress is made by the Senate budget is mitigated by the harm that will be done to our students.

It’s time for leadership. It’s time to make real, sustainable progress towards full funding of basic education. The students of Washington state deserve more than what the Senate is offering.


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