The provision by Washington state lawmakers of an additional $776 million in the state budget for teacher salaries sparked tense negotiations this summer between teachers’ unions and local school districts throughout the state. In Tacoma and six smaller districts in Clark County, discussions over fair pay raises broke down and resulted in strikes that delayed the start of school.
Washington state has struggled to adequately fund its public schools for at least a decade. The infusion of a total of $1 billion in additional school funding this spring was the final major installment of the state Supreme Court’s 2012 school-funding order known as the McCleary decision. The court ruled on June 7, 2018, that the state has at last complied with the court order to fully fund its public schools.
State lawmakers added $7.3 billion in state school funding over the next four years. They went further by setting new rules for how school districts could spend their new money while capping what they could raise locally through tax increases.
The new financial landscape meant the teacher union contracts in all 300 school districts were effectively up for renegotiation. Many school districts agreed to double-digit pay hikes.
Seattle Times, Sept. 5, 12 and 14