Superintendent Reykdal’s Budget Prioritizes Equity and Sustainability, Makes Progress on Long-Term Goals

This week, State Superintendent Chris Reykdal submitted his supplemental budget priorities for fiscal years 2022 and 2023 to Governor Inslee and the Office of Financial Management.

OLYMPIA — September 15, 2021 — Superintendent Reykdal’s budget priorities for the upcoming legislative session center on ensuring all students’ school environments are safe and supportive, closing significant funding gaps faced by school districts, and strengthening the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction’s (OSPI) service to the public school system.

“The pandemic exposed and intensified longstanding inequities that are, in many cases, embedded in the way our K–12 system currently works,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal.

“These systemic inequities were not new, and they were not a surprise,” Reykdal continued. “The funding formula for our public schools was insufficient even at the time of its creation over a decade ago. Many communities cannot cover the costs of necessary building repairs, modernization, or expansion because school construction is largely funded by local taxpayers. And, many districts are unable to fully cover the costs of necessary learning services for students with disabilities.”

Direct Supports to School Districts

  • For the past 4 years, OSPI has requested changes to the prototypical school funding model, the formula set by the Legislature determining how much state funding and staffing each school receives. Current allocations for staff including nurses, counselors, psychologists, social workers, and other educational support staff do not meet national recommendations or voter-approved levels. A legislatively directed workgroup recently made recommendations to update the formula, and OSPI’s proposal this year seeks to make progress on increasing student access to nursing and other mental and physical health supports.
  • Recognizing the harm caused by the inappropriate use of Native American names, images, and symbols as school mascots, the 2021 Legislature passed House Bill 1356, requiring K–12 public schools to discontinue use of these elements by January 2022. The Legislature provided funding for these changes, but it isn’t enough for all schools that need resources to make these changes. OSPI’s proposal, informed by a survey of school districts, includes additional funds to ensure all impacted schools can make the required changes.
  • In 2019, the Department of Natural Resources published the results of a study of seismic vulnerability of school buildings around the state. Since then, the Legislature has continued to provide funding for select seismic safety retrofits to school buildings through a phased approach. OSPI’s request is for additional funds to complete retrofit projects currently in process, ensuring all students have access to learn in a safe building.
  • Every young person in America has a legal right to a free, appropriate public education. The special education Safety Net assists school districts in paying for necessary special education services that cost more than the district receives from their allotted state and federal funds for special education. OSPI’s request will ensure districts have the funds needed to pay for special education services for all students.

Strengthening OSPI’s Service to the K–12 System

One of OSPI’s primary goals is to support school districts with consistent, timely, and meaningful funding and supports that center the needs of students. To execute this work with fidelity and taxpayer accountability, OSPI needs to provide the highest level of service to districts, including timely and accurate access to their state funding — funding that, in total, makes up nearly half of the state’s general fund budget.

Due to recent legislative changes and the outdated technology currently in use, many of the funding distribution processes are taking place manually and are not automated. OSPI’s proposal would allow for a redesign and modernization of the system of school funding apportionment to reduce risks, increase accountability, and ensure continued access to timely, accurate funding for school districts.

“As the financial needs related to the pandemic become less urgent, we must make the shift to financing our long-term recovery and acceleration,” Reykdal said. “We are going to continue making progress on this transformative path, and I appreciate our continued partnership with the Governor and the Legislature, who have made steady progress in addressing the paramount duty of our state.”

For More Information

Led by Supt. Chris Reykdal, OSPI is the primary agency charged with overseeing K–12 education in Washington state.