KENT, Wash. (AP) -- The state of Washington is not fulfilling its constitutional duty to fully pay for basic public education, a King County judge ruled Thursday.
The decision from Superior Court Judge John Erlick came after nearly two months of testimony last fall in a lawsuit brought by a coalition of school districts, parents, teachers and community leaders. They said the state was failing its constitutional duty and leaving school districts to rely on local levies, donations and PTA fundraisers to educate students.
The state disagreed, claiming it does meet its constitutional duty.
Erlick acknowledged the state's efforts at reforming the way its pays for education and encouraged lawmakers to continue that.
But he said he based his decision on a state Supreme Court ruling from 30 years ago which found the state must amply provide for basic education. Relying so heavily on local levies fails that standard, he said.
Thomas Ahearne, an attorney representing the coalition, welcomed the decision. A lawyer for the state said he expected both sides would find something to appeal in Erlick's decision.
Much of the testimony Erlick heard focused on how much it costs to run a school district, whether the state is meeting its obligations, whether student achievement is connected to school funding, and whether the Legislature's attempts at school reform have been adequate.