Advocacy Reports 2014-2015

January 2015 MISD Legislative Update

There are several funding issues (Levy Lid Act, McCleary Ruling, Initiative 1351) facing the Mercer Island School District in the coming years. The MISD Advocacy Committee, made up of representatives from each of our schools in our district has formulated a message for our State Legislators:

The Legislature should ensure that McCleary is fully funded WHILE maintaining the definition of Basic Education.  And that during this process that NO further restrictions, limitations or reductions occur with respect to local communities’ ability to supplement education through local district education levies.

If levy lids were reduced by 3%, 5% or 10%, this would equate to the Mercer Island School District losing $1.08M, $1.80M or $3.6M, respectively.

Reducing local levies will result in some communities losing significant school funding.  During this critical legislative session, Washington lawmakers must ensure that students in certain districts are not actually harmed by their actions on the McCleary Decision.

Monday Jan. 19th is Focus Day in Olympia. Would you like join a group of Mercer Islanders and go to Olympia to tell State Legislators our message? (above)

Our schedule is as follows:
–       Caravan to leave Island Park at 9:30AM
–       Arrive Olympia at 10:30AM
–       11am Tour Capital
–       Noon Rally on the Capital Steps (Rallying for the Top 5 WSPTA Legislative Priorities)
–       1:30 – 1:45  Mercer Island Constituents meeting with Representatives Senn and Clibborn (limited to 15 people) in the John L. O’Brian Building
–       2:00 – 2:15  Mercer Island Constituents meeting with Senator Litzow (tentative)
–       2:30 Depart Olympia
–       3:30 Back on the Island

Notes from Dean Mack’s Dec. 4th Presentation K-12 Funding and Potential McCleary Impacts to Mercer Island School District

There are several funding issues facing the Mercer Island School District in the coming years.

1. Levy Lid Act – This State Constitution mandates that the state should fully fund basic education and limits the amount of funds a school district can raise for maintenance and operation (M&O) budgets to 24% of state and federal funding.  In 2010, legislation was passed to increase this amount by 4%, to a levy lid of 28%.  Mercer Island also has a grandfathered levy that allows us to collect an additional levy so that the total MISD currently collects is 37.67% of state and federal funds.  This levy pays for approximately 35% of every teacher’s salary in addition to the many positions that are not funded by the state.   The 35% supplemental contract covers the portion of the teacher’s day when they are not teaching in the classroom like when they are grading papers and creating lesson plans. In 2018, the 4% levy increase is set to expire and some legislators are looking to hasten this expiration to align the state funding mandate in the McCleary ruling.  As the state will need to increase tax revenue to pay for McCleary it will most likely increase property taxes (state levy allows the state to increase property tax to $3.60 per $1,000 in property value, the current state tax is at $2.47).  However, this increased revenue will go to the state funding pot and will not be recouped on Mercer Island. (The simple math here is that MI residents will be paying more in taxes, but receiving less funding due the Levy Lid expiration)  Dean Mack believes that with the Levy Lid expiration MISD is looking to lose an estimated $500,000 – $700,000 in annual funding.

2. The McCleary Ruling – requires the state to fully fund basic education with a price tag of $4 – $5 billion. This includes smaller class sizes in K-3 at a ratio of 17:1 (currently the ratio is about 24:1).  While the state will pay for the basic education portion of these teacher salaries Mercer Island School District will need to pay the 35% supplemental contract for these teachers’ salaries as well as the cost of additional classroom space. It also calls for full day kindergarten.  While over 95% of MISD kindergarten students are full day, 100% of the extra cost for full day is covered by tuition paid by parents.  With McCleary mandating full day kindergarten, the MISD will have to cover 35% of the cost to pay the teacher salaries.

3. Initiative 1351 – This recently passed initiative complicates matters even further.  This initiative calls for the same K-3 smaller class sizes which Dean believes the legislature will work to fund, but also calls for additional teachers to reduce class sizes and additional staff throughout K-12 which MISD will be responsible for paying the 35% supplemental contract for these teacher’s salaries. Initiative 1351 has an estimated state-wide price tag of an additional $4 billion.  Dean Mack believes that the legislature will send this Initiative back to the people for a vote on a funding source.

The bottom line is it looks like MISD could be losing approximately $500,000 – $700,000 in school funding.

2014 Legislative Assembly
Washington State PTA Determines Legislative Platform

Once a year, the Washington State PTA (WSPTA), representing 900 schools units and 135,000 members, meets to determine its legislative advocacy priorities for the year. This year’s meeting was held in Vancouver, WA on Oct. 24-25th.

The five issues that received the most votes and that established the WSPTA priorities for the upcoming legislative session are the following:

1)   Funding McCleary

2)   Create Positive School Climates through Social Emotional Learning

3)   Increased Capital Funding

4)   Increased Access to Higher Education

5)   Breakfast After the Bell

In attendance were approximately 200 representatives/delegates from many of the PTAs across the state. Representing the Mercer Island School District PTAs were 5 representatives who volunteered: Charlene Steinhauer, Mary Kay Woolston, Ralph Jorgenson, Tani Lindquist and Wendy Weiker.

Our Mercer Island delegation was pleased that 3 of the Top 5 issues were consistent with our delegation’s voting priorities. As a side note, our delegation chose to vote our 5 delegate votes as a unanimous block in-line with our District’s PTA survey that was conducted last month. These issues are listed below in alphabetical order.

i)  Access, Equity and Opportunity for Students with Disabilities and Special Needs,

ii)  Create Positive Climates through Social Emotional Learning

iii)  Funding McCleary

iv)  Increased Access to Higher Education

v)  Investing in Teacher Professional Learning

 WSPTA’s Advocacy website contains additional information regarding WSPTA’s legislative platform.

All MI PTA delegates who attended thought this was a very worthwhile event both in terms of representing our District’s PTA interests but also for the many learning opportunities afforded via a number of educational seminars. We hope that next year, we can represent our district even better by finding more PTA members who are interested in serving as a delegate (note, we have approximately 20 delegate positions available).

For more information regarding Legislative Assembly or WSPTA’s legislative platform, contact Ralph Jorgenson, VP of Legislation and Advocacy for the MI PTA Council, at, or Jackie Brown, VP of Advocacy for IMS PTSA, at

October 2014

Don’t Forget to Vote!

Ballots have arrived and must be postmarked no later than Tuesday, November 4.

Initiative 1351

In addition to races to determine our Congressional and State Legislative representatives, and several contested judicial races, the ballot includes important ballot measures, including Initiative 1351, commonly referred to as the Washington Class Size Reduction Measure.

If approved, I-1351 would direct the legislature to allocate funding for smaller K-12 class sizes, with extra class-size reductions for all grades in defined high-poverty schools and for grades K-3 in all schools. It would also require funding for increased student support staffing, including counselors, teaching assistants, librarians, and others. Increased funding for these changes would be phased in over four years. Schools lacking enough classrooms to reduce class size could use funding for additional staff providing direct student services. The Office of Financial Management estimates that, if passed, I-1351 will increase education spending by $2.0 billion in the 2015-17 biennium and $2.7 billion in the 2017-19 biennium.  I-1351 does not address funding sources for the increased expenditures this initiative requires.

Additional sources of information on the initiative include: