OLYMPIA — The leader of the state’s public school system wants advice from Washington residents on how money can be best spent to improve education.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal will launch an online survey Wednesday to gauge the level of importance of putting dollars into smaller classes, safer schools, retaining teachers and a dozen other matters.
Reykdal said he’ll use what he learns in crafting the agency’s 2019-21 budget request to be submitted to Gov. Jay Inslee this fall.
“It is important to take the pulse of the public,” he said. “I want to be able to tell the governor we asked real people their priorities.”
There’s another purpose. For several years, the governor and lawmakers have made decisions to satisfy the state Supreme Court in the McCleary school funding case. This next budget, he said, will be a chance to more deeply consider investments outside the parameters of basic education.
“This is very much about asking people what system they want going forward” in a post-McCleary era, he said. “We went to be way more than basic. We want to figure out the system that works best for all students.
The survey is free and anonymous, though participants can provide an email if they want to receive updates from OSPI. It will be online until June 8.
Anyone can fill it out. Reykdal said he will be making a special effort to get students, parents and educators to take part. There will be mechanisms in place to limit the number of responses from the same computer IP address in order to blunt attempts to influence the results, he said.
The survey is short.
There are 15 subjects related to students, teachers and campus buildings. Participants will be asked to rank each one as Not Important, Somewhat Important, Important, Very Important or Extremely Important. There is also a sixth choice of Unsure.
Issues include class-size reduction, student support services such as counseling and mental health, early learning, family engagement programs and targeted assistance for students with disabilities.
Other items include professional development for staff, financial incentives to recruit and retain educators and school safety enhancements.
Results of the survey will be used in preparing a draft budget request for OSPI. Once a draft of the request is done, it will be put online for the public to provide advice on how to prioritize the elements.
While the initial go-round taps into their personal values, the second cycle gives the public a chance to dive deeper into the process, Reykdal said.
Budget requests are typically due to the Office of Financial Management in September.