2015: Best year for K-12 education funding in decades

May 11, 2015

Washington’s education union is planning a series of one-day strikes protesting the Legislature’s work on education funding. See here for information on the strike.

What have lawmakers done for students this year?

  • Greatest new investment in K-12 of any budget in state history
  • Bipartisan efforts would invest in all-day kindergarten, K-3 class size reduction and fully funding costs of maintenance supplies and operations.
  • 47 percent of the budget dedicated to K-12 education — a share not seen since the 1980’s.
  • New spending over 3:1 for education, similar to 2013-15.
    • Follows 30 years when education was put behind growth in non-education spending by a 2:1 margin over education.
  • This represents a fundamental shift in priorities not seen in 30 years, since the MCC started governing in the Senate in 2013.
  • $2.7 billion total proposed spending increase for K-12 education bringing from $15.3 billion in 2013-15 to $18 billion in 2015-17.
  • Additional $1.3 billion toward basic education addressing the McCleary decision.
  • $440 million in additional teacher pay and benefits Including voter-approved teacher COLAs.
  • Builds 2,200 classrooms to lower class size for K-3 grades
  • Per-pupil funding will see a 33% increase since MCC came to be.

Putting adults ahead of children

  • Washington ranks 8th in the nation for teacher absenteeism.
  • Progressive think tank, Center for American Progress, notes that “schools serving larger proportions of African-American and Latino students are “disproportionately exposed to teacher absence.”
  • More time away from the classroom is detrimental to students.

Why now?

Year K-12 Funding Changes COLA?
2009-11 $340 million CUT No
2011-13 $652 million (below maintenance level) No
2013-15 $1.6 billion increase No
2015-17 (proposed) $2.7 billion increase Yes


Education union announced teachers in 29 districts voted to stage a one-day strike protesting Senate proposals that harm students and blame teachers.


School District Date Avg. Salary
Lakewood 4/22/15 $  70,709
Stanwood-Camano 4/22/15 $  70,588
Arlington 4/22/15 $  74,249
Bellingham 4/24/15 $  68,893
Blaine 4/24/15 $  68,588
Conway 4/24/15 $  69,040
Ferndale 4/24/15 $  69,676
Mount Vernon 4/24/15 $  60,198
Anacortes 4/24/15 $  67,912
Sedro Woolley 4/29/15 $  62,561
Bainbridge Island 4/30/15 $  62,426
Burlington-Edison 4/30/15 $  66,008
Marysville 5/1/15 $  75,447
Oak Harbor 5/1/15 $  60,849
Lake Washington 5/6/15 $  62,735
South Whidbey 5/6/15 $  68,188
Northshore 5/6/15 $  72,085
Central Kitsap 5/7/15 $  64,738
Granite Falls 5/8/15 $  70,637
Lake Stevens 5/8/15 $  72,300
Snohomish 5/8/15 $  75,151
Franklin Pierce 5/8/15 $  62,167
Shoreline 5/11/15 $  69,712
Washougal 5/13/15 $  56,577
Evergreen/Clark County 5/13/15 $  62,560
North Kitsap 5/18/15 $  62,843
Seattle 5/19/15 $ 68,112
Sequim TBD $ 59,407
Peninsula TBD $ 62,956


WEA misinformation claims:

    • Claim: Senate Republicans voted to “shortchange” pay and benefits for teachers and school staff.
  • Fact: Senate operating budget would bring teacher COLAs to voter-approved levels providing $440 million in additional teacher pay and benefits.


    • Claim: Senate Republicans are likely getting an 11 percent pay increase.
  • Fact: If so, all state lawmakers will receive a raise, which would be determined by the Washington Citizens’ Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials.


    • Claim: Senate Republicans voted to increase class sizes – even for kids in high-poverty schools.
  • Fact: Senate budget, like the House of Representatives’ spending plan, reduces class size for K-3 where it is proven to work and keeps grades 4-12 at existing levels. Senate also prioritizes class size and all-day kindergarten funding for low-income school districts.



Teacher strikes are illegal

RCW 41.56.120: Nothing contained in this chapter shall permit or grant any public employee the right to strike or refuse to perform his or her official duties.

Attorney General opinion: “In Washington, state and local public employees do not have a legally protected right to strike. No such right existed at common law, and none has been granted by statute.”

The Seattle Times editorial: Teachers union should leave students out of lobbying the Legislature

“Instead of striking, teachers across Washington state should be celebrating … The union, which is consistently one of the biggest spenders in Olympia, knows the lobby game. It should keep its lobbying efforts there, and leave the kids out of it.”