Snohomish County Council delays education spending vote

The council is now slated to decide next week on the measure, which targets a pre-K learning gap.

EVERETT — The Snohomish County Council on Wednesday postponed a vote on an education funding measure that would distribute $800,000 to early learning centers, schools and colleges this year.

The council agreed to wait, after Councilman Sam Low suggested that the the proposal be considered again at the council’s March 10 general legislative session, so that all members could be present for the decision.

Councilman Jared Mead was absent from the meeting because his wife gave birth to a girl on Tuesday.

Low said he also wanted additional time to gauge support for the measure among the school districts in the region he represents.

The measure would allocate funding the county has received from PSTAA, or the Puget Sound Taxpayer Accountability Account. The account, voted into existence by the Legislature in 2015, is funded by a sales-and-use tax offset fee that Sound Transit pays on construction costs.

The county has so far received about $935,000, and the 2021 county budget allows for the spending of $800,000. State law requires that money go to education. However, exactly how the sum is divvied among colleges, schools and childcare centers is up to the county.

The council passed a PSTAA spending plan in January 2020. But due to the the pandemic, none of the money was distributed to local schools and colleges.

Mead proposed last month that the council revisit the plan, which did not include funding for early learning.

The measure now under consideration would require that almost 40% of the PSTAA funding be spent on early learning, with some of that money funnelled through school districts and some funnelled through public institutions of higher education.

Edmonds, Everett, Mukilteo, Northshore, Snohomish and Marysville school districts would also get some money to spend on their students. So would Edmonds College, Everett Community College and Washington State University Everett.

In total, the county anticipates $80 million in funds from the PSTAA between 2019 and 2034.

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