Full house for education finance meeting

October 28, 2008

By Chantelle Lusebrink

Issaquah School District board members and officials hosted a meeting regarding education finance Oct. 23.State Reps. Ross Hunter, D- Kirkland,  and Glenn Anderson, R- Fall City, and Jennifer Priddy, assistant superintendent of fiscal services for the state’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, gave presentations relating to redefining education and funding in the state.

With a projected state deficit of $4.5 billion or more during the next biennium, it is important to secure education funding this session, Hunter said.

For the past year, Hunter and Anderson have worked as part of the Basic Education Finance Joint Task Force, which is responsible for redefining basic education in the state, as well as resolving its funding issues and disparities among districts.

Hunter and Anderson presented their bipartisan proposal, co-authored with four other state legislators from the House and Senate. It is the same proposal they’ll submit to the task force as their recommendation.

Priddy gave a presentation to help people understand the challenges local districts face, such as rising fuel costs, health care and an inadequate definition of basic education.

Issaquah sees many of these funding shortfalls. This year, local levy money will pay for about $3 million or 46 percent of the district’s transportation expenses, according to district officials. Under the current definition of basic education, 600 full-time district employees are not funded by the state.

Priddy’s presentation included refining funding plans for class sizes; teacher salaries; nonemployee related costs, like technology and utilities; program assistance for students living in poverty, special education and English language learners; and transportation to help ease the burden on local districts.

“School communities need to understand the state of school finances and that it isn’t just their own community but it is a statewide problem,” Priddy said.

The legislators’ plan, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction plan, and perhaps two others, will be submitted to the task force, which will decide what proposal will be made to the Legislature as a recommendation with various bills.

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