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Rolfes: Real results for public school students are still ahead

Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Kitsap County - Photo courtesy of the Washington State Legislature
Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Kitsap County
— image credit: Photo courtesy of the Washington State Legislature

OLYMPIA — Sen. Christine Rolfes said the tough talk on improving public schools is yet to come following this week's release of a progress report on the state funding of public schools.

Rolfes, a 23rd District lawmaker and Bainbridge Island Democrat, talked about K-12 funding for Washington’s schools following the approval of a progress report made to the Supreme Court by the Article IX Litigation Joint Select Committee.

“The report we agreed on today is an important part of the ongoing dialogue about K-12 funding between the Legislature and the court,” Rolfes said.

“But it is only one of many, mostly tougher, conversations we still face as we work to fulfill the promises we’ve made to our kids,” she said.

The Article IX Litigation Joint Select Committee was formed after the state Supreme Court decision, known as McCleary, deemed the Legislature was not fulfilling its constitutional obligation to fully fund basic education in Washington.

The committee, comprised of a bipartisan group of legislators from both the House and Senate, is responsible for reporting to the court annually regarding the progress made by the Legislature toward meeting that obligation.

During the 2014 Legislative Session, an additional $58 million was added to the supplemental budget to fund classroom supplies and operating costs, and a shift of $97 million was made to implement the 24-credit high school graduation requirement. Estimates of the cost to fully fund basic education vary, although several funding proposals were presented during this year’s session.

“No party expects their proposal will end all debate,” Rolfes added. “In fact, the point of a funding proposal is to measure it up against other ideas, have a public discussion and come to agreement. And that is what I see as our responsibility – not to try and find a silver bullet solution, but to respect the process, respect each other and have the tough talks that yield real results for students.”

 

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