BILL REQ. #:  S-1833.1 


State of Washington61st Legislature2009 Regular Session

By Senators Oemig, Jarrett, McAuliffe, Hobbs, McDermott, Franklin, Kohl-Welles, and Haugen

Read first time 02/18/09.   Referred to Committee on Early Learning & K-12 Education.

     AN ACT Relating to education; and adding a new section to chapter 28A.150 RCW.


NEW SECTION.  Sec. 1   A new section is added to chapter 28A.150 RCW to read as follows:
     (1) Public education in Washington state has evolved since the enactment of the Washington basic education act of 1977. Decisions by the courts have played a part in this evolution, as have studies and research about education practices and education funding. The legislature finds ample evidence of a need for continuing to refine the program of basic education that is funded by the state and delivered by school districts.
     (2) In enacting this legislation, the legislature intends to continue to review, evaluate, and revise the definition and funding of basic education in order to continue to fulfill the state obligation under Article IX of the state Constitution to define and fund a program of basic education for children residing in the state and attending public schools.
     (3) The legislature also intends to fulfill the state's obligation under Article IX to establish a general and uniform system of public schools and build upon the actions previously taken by the legislature to address the inequities that exist in the current system. However, the legislature finds that in some instances providing general and uniform educational opportunity requires tailoring basic education to reflect certain needs and circumstances of each school district, including district size and certain student characteristics. It is the intent of the legislature to address these differences using a rational basis for the differences in order to promote equity and uniformity of educational opportunity.
     (4) The legislature finds that while the state has the responsibility to provide for a general and uniform system of public schools, there is also a need for some diversity in the public school system. A successful system of public education must permit some variation among school districts outside the basic education provided for by the state to respond to and reflect the unique desires of local communities. The opportunity for local communities to invest in enriched education programs promotes support for local public schools. Further, the ability of local school districts to experiment with enriched programs can inform the legislature's long-term evolution of the definition of basic education. Therefore, local levy authority remains an important component of the overall finance system in support of the public schools even though it is outside the state's obligation for basic education.
     (5) For practical and educational reasons, wholesale change of the program of basic education and the funding formulas to support it cannot occur instantaneously. The legislature intends to build upon the previous efforts of the legislature and the work of the basic education task force, the state board of education, the professional educator standards board, and others. However, an implementation strategy must be determined for the instructional program; financial experts must develop the details of the funding formulas that are based on prototypical schools; changes to the systems of educator certification, evaluation, mentoring, and compensation must be established; a data and reporting system must be designed; the capacity of districts to help their schools improve student achievement must be increased; and a system in which the state and school districts share accountability for achieving state educational standards requires new mechanisms that will clearly define the relationship of expectations for the state, school districts, and schools. As development of these formulas, processes, and systems progresses, the legislature shall monitor the progress. The legislature intends to begin a schedule for implementation of a redefined program of basic education and the resources necessary to support it, beginning in the 2011-12 school year. It is the legislature's intent that when the system has the capacity to fully implement these enhancements they will be included in a definition and funding of basic education.
     (6) It is the further intent of the legislature to also address additional issues that are of importance to the legislature but are not part of basic education.

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