Northwest NEWS

October 2, 2000

Editorial

Northshore School Board resolutions support I -728, I-732

Rich Baldwin
   Vice President, Northshore School Board
   This year the Northshore School Board adopted resolutions supporting two education initiatives that will appear on the November 7 ballot.
   These board resolutions support Iniative 728, commonly called the K-12 2000 initiative, and Initiative 732, the cost of living initiative for education employees.
   While public disclosure laws prohibit the board from campaigning for or against initiatives, informing the public about the rationale behind board resolutions regarding initiatives is both lawful and appropriate.
   Initiative I-728 would redirect certain state funds to school districts for certain purposes. Specifically, the funds could be used for reducing class size, providing extended learning opportunities, training for educators and early assistance for childrenneeding pre-kindergarten support.
   The initiative would also provide a funding mechanism for school construction.
   In adopting a resolution supporting I-728, the board:
   Acknowledges that Washington's 1993 Education Reform Act raised the bar on public education by creating higher academic standards and new accountability measures, a decision the school district supports.
   Recognizes that much more work is needed to make sure students attain the Certificate of Mastery, which will be a graduation requirement beginning in 2008.
   Believes that the state Legislature has not met its legal requirement to enact a K-12 funding system that would be "ample, flexible, stable, equitable, straightforward, and accountable," as laid forth in the state constitution and the Education Reform Act.
   Notes that, adjusted for inflation, per-student state funding declined by $271 from 1993 to 1999; and further that Washington's class sizes are third worst in the nation.
   In short, despite impressive gains in student achievement, our funding system does not provide the fiscal resources needed to implement the education reform that is required by law.
   It is the board's belief that:
   The funding mechanism in I-728 would neither increase taxes nor harm social services, health services or higher education;
   The funding mechanism is accountable;
   The areas funded by I-728 are critical to student learning;
   All school districts would benefit regardless of size; and
   Substantial funds would be made available to schools.
   For Northshore, the revenue increase is estimated at over $34 million during the first five years.
   This would not replace school levy funds at $24 million per year, but would provide a significant boost.
   Initiative I-732 would provide an annual cost of living adjustment for teachers and education employees, based on the consumer price index for Washington State.
   In adopting a resolution supporting I-732, the board found that:
   The real wages of education employees have been eroded by inflation;
   An annual cost of living adjustment would be reasonable and fair; and
   School employees have been supporting Washington's education reform efforts.
   As a board, it is our desire to maintain Northshore's skilled and knowledgeable teaching staff without the problems associated with a high turnover rate.
   This is complicated by a growing shortage of qualified applicants, driven by a large number of retirements, competition from higher-paying jobs in both the private and public sectors, and strong recruiting efforts from other states.
   In finding that both I-728 and I-732 are beneficial to public education, which is the state's paramount duty under the constitution, the Northshore School Board has determined that both initiatives merited endorsement.
   Copies of Northshore School Board resolutions may be requested from the district communications office by calling (425) 489-6309.