OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee addresses teacher compensation in his supplemental 2015-17 budget, but State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn says it is an inadequate response to fully fund education as mandated by the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision.
“This budget makes local school districts more dependent on local levies,” Dorn told the Senate Ways and Means Committee Jan. 11. “It would be the opposite of what the McCleary mandate requires.”
The state currently faces a teacher shortage and under the Supreme Court’s McCleary mandate, must pay for all basic education teacher compensation. Some districts are paying teachers using local property tax levy funds, which the court says is an unreliable means of funding basic education.
Inslee’s plan would increase compensation for beginning teachers with a bachelor’s degree and give all other teachers at least a 1 percent increase in pay.
The plan would also fund the Beginning Educator Support Team mentor program. The program began in 2013 to support teacher-mentorship programs with grants to school districts. The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction administers the grants.
Legislators would need to eliminate or modify four tax exemptions to pay the $83 million price tag for the governor’s teacher-compensation proposal. Dorn believes it would cost $173 million to fully implement the governor’s proposal.
“Our state currently relies on local districts to shoulder a large portion of teachers’ salaries,” Dorn said in a statement. “He digs a deeper financial hole for districts because they will have to make up the difference.”
Under Washington’s constitution it is the state’s “paramount duty” to provide “education for all children residing within its borders.”
Dorn walked out of the governor’s state-of-the-state address last week. He is not running for re-election this year.
(This story is part of a series of news reports from the Washington State Legislature provided through a reporting internship sponsored by the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation. Contact Reporter Izumi Hansen: firstname.lastname@example.org)