In a touchy debate last night, Senate Republicans passed SB 5607, their McCleary solution, on a 25-24 vote. This close vote was expected and not surprising. What was surprising is how quickly they passed the most sweeping, some would call it “radical”, change to K 12 in decades. As dramatic as the funding changes were, the policy changes were equally dramatic. Policy changes which included prohibiting teacher strikes, clearly describing how to fire poorly performing teachers, or making it easier to hire paraeducators (and others) as teachers (as long as they are supervised by a teacher.) With the passage, they also approved the paraeducator bill, SB 5070.
While there is a great deal of data about the levy proposal and funding elements, it is also safe to say that there is considerable debate about the impacts. That shows you how complicated their solution is. Here’s the tax impact, state budget impact, funding impact by school district, funding by student, taxpayer impact, and another taxpayer impact.
What has to be noted is that the Supreme Court demanded that the State should reduce their reliance upon local levies to pay for basic education. They also noted that there is a significant problem with levy equity (rich school districts provide more funding for basic education that poor school districts). 5607 successfully solves these difficult problems.
Another issue they addressed was K 12 health insurance. The bill requires school districts to begin offering insurance benefits that require employees who need full family insurance coverage to pay $3 for each $1 an employee who signs up for employee only coverage pays. PSE prefers that they stagger this implementation over a 3 year period starting at $5:$1 in the first year, $4:$1 in the second year, and, $3:$1 in the third year.
Of further interest and equal concern is the elimination of the current funding mechanism for salaries, staffing and insurance. What I like about their proposal is they fully fund classified employee staffing ($168 million). What I don’t like is the inflation factor (National IPD) – I prefer the Seattle CPI. I also prefer that they add an insurance inflation factor in their formula. I also don’t like the 80% threshold for school districts to spend on compensation. With that in place, it will be very difficult for classified employees to negotiate improvements if districts have already given funding capacity to teachers.
Here is the debate on the Senate floor on the bill: