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Wash. Schools Chief Asks For 39 Percent Budget Increase

Randy Dorn
(AP Photo/John Froschauer, File)

Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn has asked for an additional $4.1 billion for basic education in his biennial budget proposal, a 39 percent increase compared to the current budget. Dorn says that’s what it’ll take for the state Legislature to fulfill its constitutional duty to fully fund K-12 education.

“This isn’t Randy Dorn taking some great, big number out of the sky and saying, this is what I’d like," Dorn says. "I systematically looked at the McCleary case and said, ‘How do we get on a schedule to fulfill the court order?’”

The McCleary case refers to the state Supreme Court’s ruling that the Legislature has failed to “amply” fund basic education and has until 2018 to do so.

Dorn says to get there, he’s mapped out a three-phase funding solution. This biennial budget would fund the first two phases. It would lower class sizes to 17 students in kindergarten through third grade, fund full-day kindergarten and school transportation, and pay for more school supplies, maintenance and operating costs.

Dorn says paying for K-12 education appropriately will take new taxes. “I believe that you are gonna have to do it with new revenue sources," he says. "I believe that’s too big a number to try to get there with just growth.”

Dorn says neither the governor nor the gubernatorial candidates have commented on his budget.

Dorn is running unopposed for reelection this fall.

Year started with KUOW: 2008