Local legislators met with the Issaquah School Board on May 14 for a debriefing of last session and a look toward the upcoming session.
Sen. Cheryl Pflug (R-Maple Valley) 5th Legislative District, Sen. Rodney Tom (D-Bellevue) 48th Legislative District, Rep. Ross Hunter (D-Medina) 48th Legislature District, Rep. Judy Clibborn (D-Mercer Island) 41st Legislative District and Rep. Fred Jarrett (D-Mercer Island) 41st Legislative District were all in attendance for a round table discussion with the board.
“We have to make sure that education does remain a priority,” Jarrett said.
School funding was by far the hot topic.
Some of the funding issues discussed were:
• Officials are looking into constructing a taskforce to look into the finances for all schools in the state.
• Three possibilities are being looked into for bringing more money into the state’s education budget: a tax increase, putting a bill through or relying on more local funding.
• Issaquah tends to excel at bringing in local funding and getting their name out there in Olympia.
“You are very good at bringing forward issues for this district,” Clibborn said. “What is really important is that you bring along people who are not in the district … you bring them along to be advocates.”
• The question also arose as to where funding would come from if a new law is enacted changing the number of credits required for graduation from 19 to 24. For this to happen, and for school children to still have any electives outside of their core classes, schools would need to start operating on a seven-period schedule. Currently, the state pays for 5.5 periods, the remaining tab being picked up by the district. Legislators said the state was still looking into who or how the extra period would be paid for.
The session will start again in the fall, and the legislators said they expected to start on a two-year budget in January that will include education.
“Where there’s a will, there will be funding,” Pflug said. “Where there’s no will, there will be another study.”