OLYMPIA — Even in tough economic times, education funding should not be reduced. In fact, half of any new state revenue should be used to implement a new basic education program.
Those are two of the recommendations of the Quality Education Council, which delivered its initial report to the Legislature last week. Established by Engrossed Substitute House Bill 2261, passed in 2009, the QEC is responsible for developing recommendations for the implementation of a new definition of basic education and for the financing necessary to support it.
“Meaningful action on school funding hasn’t occurred in more than 30 years,” said Randy Dorn, state superintendent of public instruction and QEC chairman. “The QEC has done some great initial work. By 2018, when the new funding system is completely in place, we will finally fulfill our constitutional duty to amply fund education for all students in Washington.”
In all, the QEC made 13 recommendations that include issues such as early learning, new teacher support, full-day kindergarten and oversight of struggling schools. By 2011, the QEC recommends a new student transportation funding formula, as well as an increase in maintenance, supplies and operating costs.
“With our first report, we’re trying to establish a foundation,” Dorn said. “We know that times are tough and a lot can’t be done right now. But the more that is done, the more it will help later on.”
Some of the Council’s recommendations will require amendments to ESHB 2261, while others will require new legislation. In the future, the QEC will identify measurable goals and priorities for a 10-year period, including ongoing strategies to eliminate the achievement gap and reduce dropout rates.
“I appreciate all the hard work the Council has done since 2261 passed,” Dorn said. “I also want to thank the Legislature for its support, both in last year’s session, when they passed the bill, and as they go into this year’s session.”