School spending and academic learning in the 20 largest school districts in Washington state
Each legislative session lawmakers are lobbied by school district officials, union executives, and political activist groups to increase funding for K-12 schools and to impose new taxes on the public. These interests consistently argue that their current budgets are too small. The message is always the same, regardless of how much additional money the legislature devotes to public education.
For their part, public school officials say that, if only they had enough money, they would provide Excellence for All and Every Child Learns.
In the 2020 Legislative session, these education activists, who themselves benefit from increased school spending, plan to tell lawmakers the schools do not have enough money. They will say they don’t have enough money for school nurses and counselors, and that services for special needs students are underfunded, even though the legislature has increased their budgets by over 100 percent in recent years.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal has said Washington state needs to create a new state income tax to spend more on schools.
Proper consideration of these political demands requires a firm understanding of how school districts spend current dollars. In 2018-19 the current ratio of students to school staff in Washington state was 9.7 students for every school employee. Only 51 percent of school employees are teachers.
Individual School District reports: