The Washington State Legislature wrapped up the 2013 session Saturday evening, by passing new spending plans for the next two-year budget cycle. The state's public education system was the primary focus, according to Sen. Joe Fain (R-Auburn), who was a leading advocate for increasing school funding.
"It's essential that children's education receives our first dollar and not our last dime," said Fain, who serves on the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee. "With a $33.6 billion operating budget the state should not have difficulty finding money to adequately fund Washington's schools. My colleagues and I worked to make sure that for the first time in years that early learning, K-12 and higher education were the clear priority."
Based on current funding and enrollment the Auburn School District is estimated to take in an additional $20.3 million during the next two school years to be used for basic education which includes general operating costs, staff, facilities and everything else required for school operations. The Auburn district educates about 14,600 students, which means they stand to receive an additional $1400 per student for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years.
"Increased state funding for public education will have significant impacts on how we can improve student achievement at the local level," said Auburn School District Superintendent Kip Herren. "As a result we can offer full-day Kindergarten in 9 of our 14 elementary schools, drive money for supplies back into the classroom, freeing up local levy dollars to provide technology improvements district-wide. I'm also pleased with the strategic investment in the Learning Assistance Program, which will help us bring struggling students up to grade-level standards."
Part of the Washington State Supreme Court's McCleary decision included direction that the state provide more money for basic education so that school districts could become less reliant local levies.
"We're also looking forward to continuing to implement our strategic plan to accelerate more students in advanced placement course offerings and career and technical programs," Herren said. "This will help prepare our students for the growing demands of the job market and higher education opportunities."
The capital budget also authorized funds for the School Construction Assistance Program, which includes money for substantial renovations currently underway at Auburn High School.
"It is essential that students have access to cutting-edge facilities and technologies in order to best prepare them for an increasingly competitive job market and higher education system," Fain said.