School Funding History

The Washington State Constitution says "It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all students..." 
  • 1976 - Seattle School District (now known as Seattle Public Schools) filed suit against the state to provide the "ample provision" as required by the constitution. 
  • 1977 - The state Supreme Court directed the state to fund basic education with dependable and regular taxes.  It said that forcing schools districts to rely on levies to fund basic education was unconstitutional.
  • 1977 - The state legislature passed the Basic Education Act in 1977, which defined "basic education."
Because of the 1977 Supreme Court decision, the state increased funding of K-12 education so that by 1980, state funding paid for 84.3% of general operating costs.  Local school districts were responsible for only 7.5% of the needed funds.
Since the 1980's, K-12 education funding from the state has slowly diminished.  Currently, the state's share of funding has fallen to 63.3%.  Local Levy share has increased to 23% of general operating costs.
  • 2007 - Several school districts and organizations file a lawsuit on behalf of the McCleary and Venema families to compel the state to abide by its constitutional "paramount duty" to fully fund education for all children.
  • 2010 - King County Superior Court issues judgement on McCleary v. State, declaring that the State of Washington was in violation of its constitutional duty to make ample provision for the education of all children.
  • 2011 - The State appeals the ruling and a hearing was held before the Washington State Supreme Court.
  • 2012 - The Washington State Supreme Court rules unanimously that the State is violating its constitutional "paramount duty" to amply fund the education of all K-12 students.  As a result, the state is again promising to add funding for public schools.  The state legislature has until 2018 to amply fund education.
  • 2013 - State legislature added some funding which has gone towards making up for cuts made to education in recent years.
  • September 2013 - Court justices held the state in contempt of court for failing to provide a plan to fully fund education.
  • January 2014 - The Washington Supreme Court ordered lawmakers to provide a plan to fully fund education by 2018.
  • August 2015 - The Washington Supreme Court imposed the state government with fines of $100,000 per day for failing to offer a plan to fully and amply fund education by 2018.
  • August 2017 - The Legislature submitted a report to the state Supreme Court in its progress towards the McCleary decision.  The court is expected to make its ruling in October.