Smith: State places a burden on WWPS

By on Sunday, June 23rd, 2019 in Local News

WALLA WALLA, Washington –Walla Walla Public Schools Superintendent Wade Smith says district officials have identified $16.5 million of expenditures not covered by the state’s basic education prototypical funding model developed by the legislature to meet the McCleary Decision by the Washington State Supreme Court.

Appearing on KTEL’s “The Grapevine” Friday, Smith said the legislature places an unfortunate burden on districts like Walla Walla.

“We’re going to have to go back to our taxpayers and potentially look for a replacement levy,” Smith said. “Now we’re going to have to re-engage our community and say, ‘What level is right for our community and what kind of programs do you want to offer our students because the state has not come and backfilled the promises they have made to fully fund the education impact McCleary has had on school districts.’”

School districts across the state are now required to create budget codes for Enrichment Levy expenditures as another layer of transparency. Smith stated on the district’s website that programs funded by the Enrichment Levy provide a comprehensive school experience.

He reported 12 music staff members, 11 intervention specialists, 13 physical education teachers, more than five advanced placement teachers, and more than four safety and security officers are funded by the levy. Nearly $1 million in levy funds cover athletic coaching contracts. The levy also funds four art teachers, two highly capable teachers, six health clinicians and nearly four library technicians. The list, developed to capture levy expenditures, also included several maintenance, custodial and technology staff positions.

“The state’s prototypical funding model does not fund many of the programs our students, families and community have come to expect in their public schools,” Smith said.

School board members will continue studying levy needs as they prepare for a February 2020 Enrichment Levy proposal.