The Republican Education / Levy Swipe bill (Senate Bill S-0245) was just scheduled for a hearing on Monday, January 30, 2017 by the Senate Ways and Means Committee in Senate Hearing Room 4 at 3 pm. You can download the 122 page draft of this bill at the following link:
Please read the first 10 drawbacks of the Republican Education Plan at the following link:
Here are a few more drawbacks:
#11 The Republican Plan amends or adds more than 100 Education laws
The first two pages of the bill notes that it amends more than 50 laws relating to public schools and adds more than 50 new laws.
#12 The Republican Education Bill is Radically Different from the Republican Plan Released to the Press and Public Three Days Ago
Page 4 confirms that the actual bill language is much different than the proposal released to the public two days ago. For example, the “guaranteed minimum amount of funding for each student in the actual bill is only $10,000 while the guaranteed amount in the Proposal was $12,500. For 1.1 million students, this represents a decline in funding of about 2.7 billion in just the past 3 days. To make matters even more confusing on page 6, it indicates that if the average for the school district is under $12,500 after all of the calculations are made, then the average will be brought up to $12,500. Put in plain English, this means that there are really no adjustment for low income students or high achieving students. Instead, the amount will simply be $12,500 per student regardless of their poverty status – thus severely harming high poverty school districts by treating them the same as wealthy school districts!
#13 The Republican Plan dramatically underfunds several of its promises
Page 5, Line 21 is a perfect example of how the math in the Republican Bill does not add up. Here is the quote: “An additional two to five thousand dollars per pupil guarantee for students in poverty, which is estimated to generate approximately one hundred fifty million more dollars than what funding for poverty students is projected to yield under current law.”
$5,000 per poverty student means that 200 students would get one million dollars times 150 million would mean that there are only 30,000 students living in poverty in Washington state. At $2,500 per student, there would still only be 60,000 students living in poverty in Washington State. In fact, OSPI claims there are nearly 40,000 homeless students living in the backs of cars in Washington state. My research indicates that there are more than 60,000 homeless students. The number living in poverty is over 200,000 and the number qualifying for Reduced Price Lunch is over 400,000. Thus, the Republican Bill funds only 10% of the actual number of students living in poverty. Put another way, instead of providing $2,000 to $5,000 additional per low income student, the bill only provides $200 to $500 per low income student – or about one dollar per day in additional funding – not enough to buy a single cheese burger.
#14 The Republican Plan Claims to Provide a $12,500 Teacher Recruitment Incentive for Low Income School Districts – but takes money away from kids to pay for it!
On page 6, Line 1 the bill states: “A twelve thousand five hundred dollar teacher recruitment and retention incentive for certificated instructional and certificated administrative staff in school districts where the poverty rate exceeds twenty percent.”
But on Page 6, Line 5, the bill states: “After all other funding calculations are completed, if the total per pupil funding amount for a school district is less than twelve thousand five hundred dollars when including local, state, and federal revenues, the per pupil amount is increased to twelve thousand five hundred dollars.”
Put in plain English, the bill requires that low income student funding and low income school district teacher adjustment be INCLUDED in the $12,500 per pupil amount. So the bill gives special funding with the left hand only to take it away with the right hand. In addition, the bill forces the counting of federal funding in the $12,500 average and any remaining local levy funding. Thus, it actually punishes low income school districts rather than helping them.
#15 Using a fixed Per Pupil Amount Guarantees that School Funding will be cut every year due to inflation (page 6, line 8)
Instead of using a metric tied to inflation or adjusting for inflation, such as 5% Percent of State Income, or 100% of national average per pupil spending, the bill uses a fixed dollar amount of $12,500 per student. This is already far below the national average (which is about $13,500 per student). Thus, Washington schools would continue to suffer from the lowest school funding in the nation – and things will only get worse in every future year!
#16 The bill does NOT provide AMPLE school funding (page 6, line 13)
As noted above, the funding level is far below the national average. In fact, since the bill robs about two billion dollars after subtracting local levies, while only providing about one billion dollars from the new state property tax, the bill actually results in a LOSS of school funding of about one billion dollars per year – at a time when our students are already suffering from the lowest funded most over-crowded schools in the nation.
#17 The bill does NOT provide Dependable Funding (page 6, line 19)
By failing to provide any real revenue source, the bill would force the legislature to cut about one billion dollars from other state services – such as higher education. This would cause chaos and gridlock in the legislature leading to even more “special sessions” and possibly even a shut down of the government. This is the exact opposite of “Dependable” funding.
#18 The bill does NOT provide Equitable Funding (page 6, line 23)
Because all school districts would be funded at the same almost exactly the same amount, the net effect would be to lower funding in low income school districts while raising funding in high income school districts. This may sound equal. But it is not equitable.
#19 The bill does NOT provide Transparent funding (page 6, line 27)
In fact, the funding mechanisms in the bill are a cruel hoax that combines all the deception of a shell game with all the dishonesty of a con game. There is no real, dependable or transparenting funding mechanism in the bill and no real “new revenue.” Just more money being transferred from one account (local levies) to another account (the new state local levy).
#20 The bill will not improve student outcomes because it will increase rather than lower class sizes.
The only proven way to improve student outcomes is to lower class sizes. Because this bill is certain to increase class sizes – especially in low income school districts – it is certain to harm student outcomes.
#21 The bill dramatically changes the definition of full time student – resulting in a net loss of funding for nearly every school district. (page 7, line 15).
The bill states: “The enrollment of any district must be the annual average number of full-time equivalent students enrolled on the first school day of each month.”
This is not how student enrollment is currently calculated. Currently school districts use the October 1 enrollment as the basis for the entire year. After all, teachers are hired for the entire year. There is a drop in enrollment for the rest of the year as struggling students drop out of school due to the fact that class sizes are too big and they cannot get the help they need. School districts should not be punished for the fact that the legislature refuses to fund schools so we can lower class sizes.
#22 The bill protects smaller school districts from budget cuts due to the bill while throwing medium and large school districts under the bus (Page 8, line 1 to 11).
Here is the bill language: “Any school district with an enrollment of two thousand five hundred students or less that is estimated to receive less funding under the new formula… must receive the higher amount calculated under current law.”
Once again, this bill basically protects and increases school funding for small rural school districts while gutting funding for medium to large suburban and urban school districts. As 80% of all students attend medium to large school districts, this bill harms the vast majority of students while protecting a small minority. The small minority are also protected from inflation while the large majority of students are not.
I will post a more complete summary of the drawbacks of this bill by 9 am Monday January 30, 2017 at CoalitionToProtectOurPublicSchools.org. https://coalitiontoprotectourpublicschools.org/
Then come to Olympia and testify against S-0245. Here is the link to sign up to testify. Try to arrive at least one hour before the hearing and sign in with the following link:
Note that you must be at the capital in order to sign in electronically. There may also be written signups at the door. Access the Committee Sign-In Programfrom a web-enabled device (smartphone, laptop or tablet), only while on campus and connected to the Legislature's WSLPublic wireless Internet network.
If you would like a ride to Olympia give me a call on my cell phone 425-876-9149. I will be leaving Seattle at about 11 am and we’ll be back about 6 pm.
David Spring M. Ed.