Mead School Official Says McCleary Ruling Complicated Levy Vote

Nov 13, 2019

Mead School District officials are looking at their next step following rejection of a levy at the polls last week but say a Washington State Supreme Court ruling made that levy even more critical.

The $14 million levy was going to mitigate some cuts to the district that were implemented last spring and also increase some security in the district.
The cuts were the result of changes in school funding that were the direct result of the Supreme Court's McCleary decision that also resulted in increased pay for teachers.

The district’s chief financial officer, Wayne Leonard, says the changes to funding are somewhat complicated, but in essence, it reduced state funding in the Mead  School District while at the same time leveling the playing field for all the school districts in the state.

“For Mead, or a lot of school districts, anytime you talk about bringing everybody down to an average, that means there were some districts below and some above that average, and Mead was one that was above that average and so now we're adjusting our program to come down to that level of funding,” Leonard said.

The school official said those changes have meant the district has fewer options on how they can use that funding.

“The vast majority of it now is state money, and when the state gives you money, they tell you where to spend it. When it was more local money, then we had some local choice where to spend it,” he said.

Leonard says he believes many residents had come to expect more programs from the Mead School District, but with the funding changes, that is not always going to be the case.

“As we get down to an average, we need to find out from the community what parts of the program are really important because we won’t be able to necessarily afford all the things that we’ve been doing,” he said.

One immediate result of the levy failure is plans for a new elementary school in the district have been put on hold.