Basic Ed Funding
A Model Schools Approach 1
BASIC ED FUNDING
Rep. Ross Hunter, Rep. Skip Priest, Rep. Pat Sullivan,Rep. Fred Jarrett, Rep. Glenn Anderson, Sen. Rodney Tom October 2008
The purpose of this document is to propose a new modelfor financing what the Legislature and the Courts
describe as “Basic Education” –
the opportunity provided
by Washington’s public
schools for all students to meetthe established student learning goals, and the obligationof the State under Article IX, Section 1 of the StateConstitution to make ample provision for that educationalopportunity.The proposal starts with the expectations we have for ourchildren: they should receive an education that preparesthem to succeed in the 21
century. The State Board of Education recently proposed a new set of graduationrequirements (Core 24) that, if accomplished byWashington students, will ensure they are so prepared.Core 24 provides multiple pathways for all students,whether that leads them to a four-year college,community or technical college, apprenticeship program,or directly into the first step of a career ladder in theworkforce. The State Board recognized that schoolscannot be expected to provide the necessary creditswithout adequate funding for the additional time required.This proposal provides that funding by figuring out thecost of a prototype school where there is enough time ontask to meet the credit expectations. The proposal alsoprovides the other resources necessary for a qualityprogram.Flexibility for school districts to address the unique needsof their students is respected. Over the years manyprograms have been created that have substantialreporting and implementation strings attached to them.Individually these are not bad ideas, but the overall resulthas been a complex and expensive- to- administer system.
This proposal builds “model schools” to c
ompute thelevel of funding needed by a district to provide a set of services a reasonable person would believe necessary toimplement a basic education, but does not require thedistrict to implement that exact program.
Districts are free to allocate the resources to bestaccommodate local conditions, but the new accountabilityand accounting system requirements will ensure that bothimplementation and results are clearly transparent to localvoters. Should their students not make progress towardsgraduation comparable to other districts, districts willface increasing levels of intervention from the state aswell as increasing censure from local voters.
It’s important to note that the charge of our Task Force is
to design a financing system, not to make all policydecisions about education. We have tried very carefullyto focus on providing adequate resources for schools toaccomplish the goals before them and not on directinghow school boards and educators achieve these goals.School boards should set local goals reflecting theircommunities, and educators should exercise theirprofessional judgment, but both should be accountable toparents, taxpayers, and the Legislature.
Addressing the Achievement Gap
One of the most pernicious failings in education is thedivergence in educational attainment between children of modest means and those with more money. Poor kidstend to lag behind while children of more advantagedparents do much better. Our ability to address thisdisparity requires much more than just funding, butchanging this dynamic is crucial in designing a qualityschool funding system. One of the key elements of thisproposal is the level of support provided to disadvantagedstudents to allow them to catch up - to reduce theachievement gap with their more advantaged peers.
Program of Education
This proposal is structured around the services weprovide to students, with a model that allows the costs of these services to be computed and funded. There shouldbe a direct link between the level of service provided andthe budget.
The structure of this funding model ispossibly more important than the exact level of funding initially provided.
By funding services ratherthan providing a block of funds, the Legislature is forced