Let’s face it, education funding in Washington is a complicated subject with plenty of jargon, too many acronyms, and of course, lots of opinions. Here are five facts you should know about education spending in our state that will help make sense of it all.
- We’re spending record amounts on education in Washington – The 2015-17 Washington state budget represents the single biggest investment in education in our state’s history. How much? Since 2013, Washington as a state has invested a total of $4.5 billion more in K-12 education.
- We’re spending more per pupil now than we ever have as a state – The 2015-17 budget upped per student spending to its highest point ever. By 2017 we’ll spend more per pupil than at any point in our state’s history; in fact, per pupil spending has increased 33 percent in the past four years.
- Nearly half of the Washington state budget goes to K-12 education – as a percentage of the state 2015-17 operating budget, we spend almost half (47.5 percent) on public (K-12) education.
- Education spending in Washington has returned to and now exceeds pre-recession levels – The conventional wisdom in education is that the two state budgets highlighted in the above charts simply return spending back to pre-recession (2008-09) levels. That’s not the case. The 2015-17 budget surpasses pre-recession investment levels in education. In fact, Washington is one of only three states that saw increases in education spending since the Great Recession.
- Washington spends more per pupil than Oregon, California, Colorado, Arizona and Utah – In the 2012-13 school year (the most recent year U.S. Census Data is available), Washington ranked 29th in per pupil spending ($9,672 per pupil), ahead of Oregon (32nd), California (36th), New Mexico (38th), Colorado (40th), Nevada (44th), Texas (45th), Arizona (49th) and Utah (51st) (note: state ranking includes District of Columbia). And according to Robin Lake of the Center on Reinventing Public Education, Washington’s education spending is “close to the national median.”