Here’s what “fully funding education” and the McCleary Decision means to Public Teacher’s Unions in Washington Schools

Washington Education Association Web Site:

Raises up to 21% for teachers have been negotiated by local districts throughout the state.

Since the Supreme Court case has been settled there are now 65 school districts calling for a one day strike. These include Bellingham, Blaine, Ferndale, Sedro Woolley, Anacortes, Mt Vernon and 59 other Washington school districts.

The Union states that they… “have voted to walk out to protest the Legislature’s failure to fully fund K-12 public schools, including smaller class sizes in every grade level (as required by I-1351) and the professional, competitive pay and benefits needed to attract and keep qualified educators.”  See the full list of those voting to strike here.

In addition since the tax increase was voted and began collection… Across Washington, local unions and school district administrators are negotiating double-digit pay raises for teachers and support professionals – as high as 21 percent so far.  

Because of the one year overlap in tax collections caused by the legislative solution to fully fund education… Teacher salary increases may be unsustainable in future years.

Students in Washington State stuck in the middle of the conflict of what teachers perceive they need for pay and what the Taxpayer is able to provide.


Here’s what “fully funding education” means to the taxpayer…

According to the Whatcom County Assessor’s Website the State Portion of School Property Taxes increased by at least 35% in Whatcom County increasing County-Wide from $59.5 million in 2017 to $91.5 million in 2018. Other Counties in the State also have had a 35% plus increase in the State Portion of School taxes  This is a result of the Washington State Supreme Court’s McCleary Decision directing the legislature to “fully fund” education.

In addition to this increase of $.89 per thousand valuation property tax; an increase in business activity in Washington State brought an extra Billion Dollars in taxes collected and allocated for education for Washington State.  Hedging even then… The State Supreme Court ended its $100,000 day fine of the legislature and ruled that the state is “fully funding basic education”.

Following the Money

This decision to fully fund education is what Unions are basing their actions on.  The truth is that local funding for education will be reduced to $1.50 per thousand in most districts next year; In many districts these funds have been used to give raises to teachers even though local funds were prohibited from being used this way. When this local funding levy rate is reduced in many areas it will be impossible to maintain the raises given with these funds in the past AND the new settlements this year.  Taxpayers should expect strike action by teachers in the fall.

See the Fourth Corner article here on future year tax collections by Whatcom School Districts.

Below the line is the assessor explanation of the difference between budget and “frozen” tax collections concerning the increase in the State Portion of education taxes.  “Frozen” means that new construction values and increased property values will not be used to add to current property values to reduce the overall tax burden.  They will be used to collect brand new State Education Tax Dollars.

“””…NEW LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: The 2017 Washington State Legislature passed

Whatcom County Assessor Keith Willnauer

Engrossed House Bill (EHB) 2242 to meet the Washington State Supreme Court mandated obligation to fully fund basic education. The new law in addition to other education related requirements, makes changes which:

  • Increase property taxes imposed by the state. (see below)
  • Limit certain voter-approved property taxes imposed by school districts.
  • Facilitate state funding for certain school districts.

EHB 2242 temporarily changes the state property tax levy from a budget-based system to a frozen rate-based system and increases the tax rate to a new level for 4 consecutive years. In the first year, Whatcom County’s specific rate for State taxes due in 2018 will increase from $ 2.23 to approximately $ 3.20 per thousand dollars of assessed value. This will provide an approximate 55% increase (except Senior Citizen and Disabled Person exemption program participants) in the State Tax Dollar portion of your tax bill.

For additional information on this new law:

The full text above from the assessor is located here.

In conclusion

  • the “McCleary” decisions has set up a large pot of money for teachers salaries and the teachers’ unions are going after it District by District Statewide.
  • It has set up new increased amounts of property tax to be collected for schools by its “frozen” aspect .
  • It has created a conflict between School Districts and The Teachers’ Unions statewide.
  • It has set up a situation where negotiated contacts this year may be unfunded next year and cuts may be in the offing.
  • It has set up a possiblity of illegal teachers’ strikes for this fall.

The Fourth Corner believes there could have been a better way for our children’s education than having nine elected judges run the tax system and the legislature for what turns out to be mostly Teacher raises instead of graduation rate and classroom improvement.