Volz responds to news of potential layoffs in Spokane schools

Recent news of Spokane Public Schools (SPS) issuing layoff notices to more than 300 employees due to a budget shortfall has drawn attention and ire from some in and around Spokane. In response to concerns from SPS employees and area residents, Rep. Mike Volz, R-Spokane, issued the following statement:

“Since being elected to serve as a state representative for Washington's 6th Legislative District three years ago, I have served on the House Education Committee and the House Appropriations Committee, which covers our state's operating budget. I can confidently say a majority of my tenure in Olympia has been spent on funding for public K-12 education.

“For the record, I voted against the 'McCleary-fix' legislation the Legislature approved in 2017 and the fix to the fix last year because I saw the writing on the wall. The system that resulted from those bills is fundamentally flawed – inadequate, overpriced, overly centralized, and inequitable. A system in which Eastern Washington taxpayers pay $1.50 per thousand to generate roughly $1,000 per student while Seattle taxpayers pay less than a dollar per thousand to generate $2,500 per student.

“However, despite my disapproval of the legislation that eventually passed and was signed into law, I'm perplexed by Spokane Public Schools' outcry over a lack of funding.

“At the time the state made changes to the basic education funding model, lawmakers warned the extraordinary growth school districts would see in the 2018-19 school year was one-time, and would reduce and normalize in the following school year. We cautioned superintendents to not negotiate those extra funds away, as doing so would lead to future financial troubles. Yet that's exactly what SPS did. 

“The fact is SPS is receiving more money now than they did before the 'McCleary-fix' legislation was enacted.  In 2016-17, SPS received $340 million from the state and local resources. In 2019-20, when the aforementioned legislation will be fully in effect, the school district is projected to receive $384 million.

“Over the summer, they approved double-digit teacher pay raises, costing $24 million and putting a massive dent in their operating budget. Superintendent Shelley Redinger also noted in a news article last September the school district is 'one of the most richly staffed districts in the state,' and SPS would be working to reduce the size of its workforce through attrition. 

 “Again, while I disagree with the policies set forth in the 'McCleary-fix' legislation, the bottom line is there is more money being funneled into K-12 education and SPS now than there was before the law was enacted.

“The solution to these budget woes is not to increase taxes on Washingtonians, as some of the proposals we have seen before the Legislature would do. Instead, the Legislature needs to restore local flexibility so districts can determine how to best allocate funds they receive from the state.”


Washington State House Republican Communications