Sunday, April 5, 2015

PTA on House Budget - Still Needs Improvement

The Washington State PTA was on hand in Olympia all day Monday to testify on the Capital and Operating Budgets as proposed in the State House of Representatives.  Unlike the Capital Budget, the PTA testified with concerns on the operating budget offered by Representative Ross Hunter.  McCleary team lead Eden Mack shared her concerns with the committee, "We understand that this is one of the largest investments in K-12 Education in a very long time - but it is still not enough to meet the McCleary mandate."  

Mack was flanked by PTA Legislative Director Sherry Krainick and PTA members Steve Nesich and Kelly Bowers.  The challenge before the legislature was how to maintain critical funding for kids outside the classroom while still advocating for significant budget increases for K-12.  The House budget sought to strike this balance, but did not go far enough to address one of the key components of McCleary - the continued reliance on local taxpayers to fund portions of basic education that is supposed to be the dominion of the legislature.  

One of the key pieces of the local funding issue is teacher compensation.  Director Krainick testified in committee on this issue, bringing up the lack of focus on the legislature's own committee, the Compensation Technical Working Group, which offered recommendation on teacher compensation and professional learning.  "Our local levies will continue to pay for basics, including teacher compensation, when they should be used to provide high school students with access to a 7th period day so they can meet our new graduation requirements."  This issue is part of the PTA platform which was passed last October at legislative assembly.

The House voted the budget out of committee late last night and it is likely to be passed out of the House later in the week.  The underlying tax proposals to fund the increases in education and freezing tuition rates was held in the Finance Committee Tuesday morning.

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