Port Angeles School District’s 2023 Legislative Priorities
This video is from a recent school board meeting where Superintendent Marty Brewer and Kira Acker -Director of Finance and Operations, presented what could be in store for our school district if we do not receive additional funding for education from our State legislatures.
Each year, the Port Angeles School District Board of Directors identifies critical areas in our school district that need legislative support and attention. For the 2023 legislative session, the Port Angeles School Board has highlighted these areas and is asking our legislators to prioritize and support education funding in our district and other districts across the state.
Address Regionalization, Salary Enhancements, and Fully Fund Employee Benefits
School funding is not equal across our State. Legislators allocate State education funding at different rates in different regions. This "Regionalization" scheme means that districts in other counties receive up to 18% more money, proportionally, than we do in Port Angeles.
To offset inflation, salaries increase each year. Because the inflation rate fluctuates, the State calculates how much to raise wages with an I.P.D or Implicit Price Deflator. This year, the State determined that salaries should increase by 5.5% to offset inflation. The State then used a "Prototypical Funding Model" to calculate how much each district needed to increase salaries by 5.5%. The State's "Prototypical Funding Model" has two major flaws:
- The State calculates funds allocated for staff salary increases based on the average State salary. Districts like ours are lucky to have a large proportion of experienced educators but need more than the State's average calculation provides. That difference totaled more than $700,000 for this school year.
- The State's model does not include Special Education, Title Reading, Learning Assistance Programs, music, or athletics. So, the State’s calculated funding increases fail to cover the cost of increasing all staff salaries. Our district had to use funds from our local Educational Programs and Operations (EP&O) Levy for this salary increase. EP&O Levies are for enrichment programs like music, athletics, and mental health support. They are not intended to fund salary increases for school staff.
PASD must contribute approx. $1 million toward employee medical benefits yearly because the State fails to fund them fully. With the introductionofSEBB, out-of-pocketexpenses increased forthedistrictanditsemployees. PASD supports legislation that allows school districts to receive full funding, regardless of location within the State, that fairly compensates all levels of staff in salary and benefits. PASD also supports legislation that eliminates mandated SEBB participation or provides for reduced out-of-pocket expenses for districts and their employees, ensuring school districts do not incur costs for employees who decline benefits.
Fully Fund Special Education
Legislators must, by law, fully fund basic education for all students in Washington. When students qualify for Special Education (SpEd), those services become a part of their basic education, and therefore legislators must fully fund them. Unfortunately, they do not. The State only funds SpEd services for up to 13.7% of students. Port Angeles has a higher need, and to fund SpEd services for all those in need, we must tap into the local EP&O Levy for almost $2 million. That Levy is for enrichment, not SpEd services. The State must provide full funding to meet its moral and legal obligation to every SpEd student in our district and State. PASD supports legislation that fully funds SpEd programs and provides adequate funding for all eligible students' required services without imposing an arbitrary cap.
Revisit the Methodology of the Property Tax Structure
Even though our district has a higher enrollment and our students need more support services, the State's current tax structure contributes more funding to neighboring communities with higher property values. This inequitable funding structure puts our district at a disadvantage in providing adequate staffing, programs, and supports that our students need and deserve. PASD supports legislation that addresses the broken tax structure and provides a funding model that meets students' needs, regardless if districts are in a Property Rich or Property Poor community.
Support Simple Majority for School Capital Bonds
Currently, passing a school capital bond requires a 60% supermajority vote. PASD has not passed abond since 2001, even though our schools need replacement or remodeling. PASD believes our buildings should provide all students and staff with safe learning and working environments. PASD supports legislation that requires a simple majority of votes to pass a capital bond and maintain a reliable system of funding that supports adequate planning and establishes an ongoing, sustainable, and reliable source of funding for safe, healthy, and contemporary school buildings.
Continue the Permanent Return of Timber Tax at the State and Federal Level
Timber revenues should be delivered to school districts to supplement basic education allocations and the State's basic education apportionment. PASD supports legislation that returns timber tax funds to districts, which is the historical norm.
The Port Angeles School District is in State District 24, and our legislators are Senator Kevin Van De Wege, Representative Mike Chapman, and Representative Steve Tharinger. You are a vital part of the legislative process, and your voice matters. If you are inclined to reach out to your representatives regarding these priorities or any other areas that matter to you, you can click here to find your legislator and send an email: app.leg.wa.gov/MemberEmail/