The Herald of Everett, Washington
HeraldNet on Facebook HeraldNet on Twitter HeraldNet RSS feeds HeraldNet Pinterest HeraldNet Google Plus HeraldNet Youtube
HeraldNet Newsletters  Newsletters: Sign up | Manage  Green editions icon Green editions

Calendar


HeraldNet Headlines
HeraldNet Newsletter Delivered to your inbox each week.
Published: Monday, March 3, 2014, 1:00 a.m.
In Our View/H.B. 2797


Ramping up for McCleary

Sixty years ago, U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas wrote without irony that “Washington has made education her proudest boast.” The boast grew less resonant over the years, until the state Supreme Court’s 2012 McCleary decision put teeth back in the state constitution’s paramount-duty mandate. Find a way to pony up for K-12, dear lawmakers, or you’ll be held in contempt (and not just by the Supreme Court.)
Big challenges spur creative solutions. One that merits serious consideration is a bipartisan school construction plan shepherded by House Capital Budget Committee Chairman Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, and Rep. Drew MacEwen, R-Union. The premise is undeniable: More services, more mandated capacity, equals more classrooms.
According to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, full-day kindergarten requires $105 million in capital expenses along with $599 million for K-3 reduced-class sizes by 2017-18. The need is well-defined: The Snohomish School District requires 43 additional classrooms. Mukilteo, 91.
“This calls the question on those who say they want to reduce class size sometime in the future,” Dunshee said. “We logically need classrooms in place first.”
The mechanism is $700 million in bonds backed by lottery revenue, borrowing against future lottery earnings to the tune of $50 million a year. The lottery revenue would cover debt services by 2016, and passage would require a simple majority vote of the Legislature. School districts are not forced to match, with the first priority addressing “unhoused” K-3 students based on a 90-sq. ft. space per student required by McCleary. 
Utilizing lottery-backed bonds to underwrite school construction has worked well in states such as Oregon and Florida. But bonding still generates blowback, usually from the state treasurer with an eye on issuing debt. Treasurer Jim McIntire published his fourth debt affordability study in January, with a focus on fuel-tax bonds and preserving the state’s credit rating. His analysis will inform how lawmakers approach H.B. 2797.
House Republican support already is coalescing. The onus now is on Senate Majority Coalition Leader Rodney Tom to give it a push or provide a practical alternative.
H.B. 2797 reflects bipartisan, problem-solving lawmaking. If there’s a better solution (wishing it away doesn’t count) we’d like to see it.  
“We can’t cut class size without building classrooms,” Dunshee said. “The kids deserve better than tents.” 
Let’s agree to no tents. And let’s also agree to a plan.

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus
digital subscription promo

Subscribe now

Unlimited digital access starting at 99 cents, or included with any print subscription.

loading...

Herald Editorial Board

Jon Bauer, Opinion Editor: jbauer@heraldnet.com

Carol MacPherson, Editorial Writer: cmacpherson@heraldnet.com

Neal Pattison, Executive Editor: npattison@heraldnet.com

Josh O'Connor, Publisher: joconnor@heraldnet.com

Have your say

Feel strongly about something? Share it with the community by writing a letter to the editor. Send letters by e-mail to letters@heraldnet.com, by fax to 425-339-3458 or mail to The Herald - Letters, P.O. Box 930, Everett, WA 98206. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We'll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 250 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it. If your letter is published, please wait 30 days before submitting another. Have a question about letters? Contact Carol MacPherson at cmacpherson@heraldnet.com or 425-339-3472.

HeraldNet highlights

Wolf population growing
Wolf population growing: Chief concern about more wolves: Livestock attacks
Richard Sherman 2.0
Richard Sherman 2.0: Seahawks' star cornerback is equally effective with less bravado
Playing with all they have
Playing with all they have: Highland Christian girls compete, inspire with just 5 players
$800K in scholarships, so far
$800K in scholarships, so far: Monroe High's Chloe Cook expects she’ll still need a job
SnoCoSocial