State Relations

May 7, 2009

Article on cost of school reform

Several papers this morning featured an Associated Press article on what it could cost to implement the school reform bill passed by lawmakers this year.  According to the article:

While state lawmakers were debating plans to reform the state’s education system, no one wanted to talk about how much the changes would cost and where the money would come from. They’re talking now.Sen. Fred Jarrett, D-Mercer Island, a leader of the Basic Education Finance Task Force that designed the reforms, says the state will need $3 billion to $4 billion more a year to pay for the new definition of basic education. Estimates during the session seldom went above $2 billion a year.

The reform plan would create smaller classes, full-day kindergarten and a longer high school day to give students a chance to meet higher credit requirements. It would also distribute state education dollars based on a new formula and it would tie some teacher pay to student performance and set up a standardized way to assess a teacher’s skills in the classroom.

Observers have noted that to fully implement the plan could take most, if not all, of any new state financial resources over the next decade.  Everyone with a stake in how the state educates its children (and allocates its resources) needs to pay attention to how the reform plan progresses.  The article is a great place to start.