Plan to fully fund public schools could reduce class sizes

Plan to fully fund public schools could reduce class sizes »Play Video
TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- The state Supreme Court said Washington must come up with a new plan to fully fund public schools - and the deadline is days away.

The state's superintendent released his own plan this week. It could mean smaller class sizes and more teachers.

Teresa Hancock has kids in our local public schools. She wants smaller class sizes.

Reporter: "Do you think our state does enough to fund our education here?"
Teresa Hancock: "No. I'd like to see a lot more funding, where the classrooms are reduced."

It's a lofty goal, but a new plan from the state superintendent might have just the answers she's looking for. We got a chance to sit down with Richland's superintendent to see what it means for our area.

In a nutshell, Rick Schulte thinks it's a good start.

"It's a good place to begin because it has detail. It makes a commitment to fully funding what the legislature says needs to be included in education reform," he says.

The plan would cost millions and take four years. Schulte says the most notable points are reducing the average class size to around 17 and implementing all-day kindergarten. The state already planned to mandate that.

For Richland, it will mean hiring up to 70 teachers. While the plan says the reduced classroom size and all-day kindergarten would be 100 percent funded by the state, it doesn't explain where the money will come from.

"I think that's where the weakness or the challenge or the argument will be, as to how do you pay for all of this? This is a spending plan, but it's not a revenue plan," Schulte says.

Lawmakers would decide where the money comes from. The state superintendent's office suggested three ideas earlier this year, including a state sales tax. None of them passed.

Lawmakers are likely to create their own plan before the end of the year. Richland's superintendent expects that will more than likely change many of the provisions suggested.

Teresa is just happy the state is moving forward.

"I realize it's in its infancy, but, again, creating more educational opportunities for our children builds better communities," she says.

The plan would also introduce a restructuring of teachers' salary raises and cap school district levies at 15 percent. Superintendents say funding of this magnitude will have to come from a change in tax structure or taking funding from state public works projects.

None of the suggestions or plans will be considered until January, when the state legislature goes back into session.