Dear friends and neighbors,
State Superintendent Randy Dorn has filed a lawsuit against seven school districts—Everett, Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane, Bellevue, Evergreen and Puyallup—challenging how school districts fund salaries. We do not agree with State Superintendent Dorn’s claims. The following is a joint statement Board President Wenta and I will release in response to this lawsuit. We will continue to keep you and our community apprised of developments surrounding this important issue.
It is the paramount duty of the State to provide for basic education, but the State has not fulfilled its constitutional obligation to fully fund basic education for our students.
In McCleary, the State Supreme Court directed the State Legislature to address the funding gap. Everett Public Schools shares the frustration felt by many with respect to the ongoing failure of the State to fully fund basic education.
Everett Public Schools is working to respond to the increase in our student population. Over the last six years, our student enrollment has increased from 18,829 to 19,496 students and is projected to grow by nearly 1,500 students over the next decade. As enrollment increases, the state funding gap continues to grow.
For many years, the State Legislature has authorized districts to use local levy funding to contract for and pay supplemental teacher salaries for extra time, responsibility, and to provide incentives. Everett has used this authority to attract excellent teachers and to pay them a fair living wage for the work actually performed. If Superintendent Dorn thinks Everett is actually paying for what is legally basic education, then he should be suing the State to pay for these extras according to the State’s Constitutional obligation; he should not be suing Everett Public Schools.
We negotiate fair, competitive wages to attract and retain quality professionals. They support the education of our students and prepare them for a successful future in a global world.