The McCleary education funding case

The Washington State Constitution states: "It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex." In 1976 the Seattle School District sued the state and the state Supreme Court held that the K-12 funding system was neither ample nor stable as it relied too heavily on local levies. In response, the Legislature adopted the Basic Education Act and the Levy Lid Act, which aimed to limit local levies. Over time, changes made to the Levy Lid Act increased local levy authority to today's rates – triple what they were in some cases. This "levy creep" contributed to the filing of the McCleary lawsuit in 2007. The state Supreme Court accepted review of the case in 2012 and held the state has not amply funded basic education, ordering the state to implement certain reforms, fully fund basic education by 2018, and retained jurisdiction of the case to monitor the state's compliance.


1977-01-14 20:03:09

Doran Decision I - McCleary's predecessor

Following a levy failure in 1976, Seattle School District No. 1 sues the state claiming the Legislature is not meeting its constitutional obligation to make ample provision for basic education. On Jan. 14 the following year, Thurston County Superior Court Judge Robert Doran issues a decision (Doran Decision I) holding the state had not sufficiently funded basic education and that the Legislature must define and fully fund a basic education program through 'regular and dependable tax sources' - not local levies.

1977-06-01 03:54:17

1977 Levy Lid Act enacted

In both the Doran (1977) and McCleary (2012) decisions, the Court cites the state's overreliance on local levies to pay for basic education is unacceptable per the state's constitutional obligation to provide "ample provision" for basic education. Prior to the widespread levy failures of the mid-1970s, local levy revenues made up more than 30 percent of a total school district's revenue. The 1977 Levy Lid Act limits the amount of revenue a school district can raise through maintenance-and-operation levies (M&O). Most school district levies were limited to 10 percent of a district's basic education allocation beginning in 1979. School districts with historically higher M&O levies were grandfathered, with the intent to move all districts to 10 percent by 1982. Since the Act passed, the Legislature has incrementally increased the local levy lid. Today, 205 of the 295 school districts have a higher levy lid (28.01 percent to 37.9 percent) due to grandfathering. Out of this legislation comes the local effort assistance program (levy equalization, or LEA), which is created to mitigate the effect above-average property tax rates may have on the ability of a school district to raise local revenues through voter-approved levies.

1983-04-29 13:25:55

Doran Decision II

The plaintiffs in this case challenge the budget cuts made by the Legislature for the 1981-83 biennium and request full state funding for other programs, such as building repairs, food service and desegregation. Judge Doran rules that once the Legislature has defined and fully funded a program of basic education, it may not reduce the level of funding due to budget shortfalls. The Legislature must also fund "salaries necessary to assure local school districts the ability to hire and retain competent staff." Doran also notes in his decision that “basic education” must include the following: 1) special education programs; 2) transitional bilingual education programs; 3) remediation assistance programs/learning assistance programs; 4) pupil transportation for some; 5) vocational education.

1992-04-01 03:54:17

Initial framework for basic ed reform established

Passage of Senate Bill 5953 establishes the initial framework for education reform. The bill creates the Commission on Student Learning in order to identify what knowledge and skills students need in a performance-based education system. In addition, this legislation provides for the development of Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs), which defines the knowledge and skills students need at each grade level, and required students to earn a Certificate of Mastery in order to graduate.

1993-05-12 03:54:17

State learning goals established

A modification of Senate Bill 5953 (1992), House Bill 1209 sets forth the state learning goals - 1) read with comprehension, write with skill, and communicate effectively and responsibly in a variety of ways and settings; 2) know and apply the core concepts and principles of mathematics, sciences, history, geography, arts, and health and fitness; 3) think analytically, logically and creatively, and integrate experience and knowledge to form reasoned judgments and solve problems; 4) understand the importance of work and how performance and decisions directly affect future career and education opportunities; and 5) function as responsible individuals and contributing members of families, work groups and communities – and establishes timelines for development of EALRs and statewide student assessments. Under this bill, the Certificate of Mastery - a graduation requirement - became dependent on the high school assessment being found reliable and valid.

2006-01-11 13:06:06

"Fund Education First"

Rep. Glenn Anderson (R-Fall City) sponsors House Bill 2637, which would create a separate K-12 education funding budget and would require that appropriations for basic education funding be made prior to any other appropriation. The bill is referred to the House Appropriations committee but never receives a hearing. Since then, Republicans have sponsored similar legislation, but the proposals have yet to advance through the legislative process.

2007-01-11 13:25:55

McCleary family and other plaintiffs bring lawsuit to King County

A group of plaintiffs, led by the McCleary family, file a lawsuit in King County Superior Court alleging the state is not adequately funding public education according to Article IX of the state Constitution.

2007-04-18 03:54:17

Constitution amended to allow for simple majority to raise local levies

House Joint Resolution 4204, a constitutional amendment, allows for a simple majority voter approval for maintenance-and-operations (M&O) levies. This does not affect levies to pay for bonds for capital projects, which still require 60 percent voter approval.

2007-04-22 03:54:17

Joint Task Force on Basic Education Finance is created, advises Legislature

By passage of Senate Bill 5627, the Joint Task Force on Basic Education Finance is created to review the definition of a basic education program and to make recommendations for a new funding structure, building upon previous work conducted by Washington Learns (2005-06). The task force is composed of 14 members, including former House Republican Reps. Glenn Anderson (Fall City) and Skip Priest (Federal Way). Over the course of two years, the task force meets 17 times for a total of 25 days. Its final report in December 2009 provides the following: a more rigorous, challenging education program is necessary to acquire the appropriate education skills in a progressively growing society and economy and to, more specifically, require 24 course-credits to graduate high school; include preschool for three- and four-year-olds; emphasize postsecondary-education success and success beyond high school in basic education programming; require specialized instruction for non-English language learners; provide special education for students with disabilities; and more.

2008-01-14 14:37:44

Resolution to bring K-12 funding-priority to vote of the people

Rep. Glenn Anderson (R-Fall City) sponsors House Joint Resolution 4200 that, had it passed, would have brought to a vote of the people whether to amend the state constitution to prioritize basic education funding before any other budgetary measure.

The McCleary education funding case

Copy this timeline Login to copy this timeline 3d Game mode