News Release from the Walla Walla School District
WALLA WALLA, Washington — Superintendent Wade Smith traveled to Olympia this week to advocate for essential McCleary School Funding fixes following changes the legislature made recently through HB2242/6362, intended to fully fund basic education. Central to the state’s McCleary solution relied on raising the state tax rate 90 cents per $1,000 assessed, while capping local levies at either $1.50/$1,000 or $2,500 per student, whichever is less. While this change results in a substantial tax savings for local Walla Walla residents, the state failed to appropriately backfill the lost local revenue as initially promised. In addition, reductions in the state’s historic local effort assistance (LEA), monies used to offset property-poorer districts like Walla Walla, were also affected. Both of these issues, if not addressed, will likely result in reduction to programs and staff Walla Walla parents and students have come to expect with prior levy dollars.
During his lengthy address to the Washington State Legislature Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee, Superintendent Smith, alongside Washington State Superintendent Chris Reykdal, pointed out that while some school districts received substantially more revenue to put towards staff salaries and programs for students, others like Walla Walla were left detrimentally impacted with far less comparable operating revenue.
“Clearly, this result was not what the legislators meant to have happen when they passed the two educational funding bills in 2017, but they have created the problem, and now they need to fix it,” said Smith.
Superintendent Smith is working with the Walla Walla Public Schools Board of Directors, WWVEA President Keith Swanson, PSE President BJ Colvin, and local elected officials to draft proposed legislative language to address the unintended and disproportionate affects McCleary has had on districts like Walla Walla.
“Our collective efforts are making headway and our disproportionate funding situation is being recognized,” said Smith. “I had the privilege of being the first superintendent to address the committee, and was allowed 10 minutes to share our circumstance and provide input and solutions on proposed legislation.”
Click below to view Superintendent Smith’s testimony: