Education Funding 101
Public schools in Washington are part of a complex and diverse system. Here's a primer to get you started on understanding how it works and how we can ensure every student graduates from high school prepared for career or college or both.
- WA has a top economy, middle of the road education spending, and poor graduation rates.
- Understanding how that money is spent is key.
- There are four sources of funding for schools: state, local, and federal government, plus school fees.
- State funding provides the majority (around 70%, depending on the district). It’s divided into three pots (General Purpose, Special Purpose, Capital Grants)
- An important point to note is that the majority of the money is ‘general purpose’ which means that state government allocates it with recommendations, but the local district decides how to spend it. ‘Special purpose’ funds are allocated with requirements on how it’s spent.
How we got here: key events of McCleary school-funding decision, The Seattle Times, 2016
McCleary 101: The ins and outs of Washington’s landmark school-funding case, The Seattle Times, 2017
More on Washington Education Funding:
A Citizen’s Guide to Washington State K-12 Finance, Senate Ways and Means Committee, 2015
Washington State Education Funding 101, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, 2015
Examples from the Field: