What you should know about our Washington state school funding system

  • Why it matters what your zip code is and why it should not

    By FWPS Board of Education

    Mr. Geoffery McAnalloy, President, District 1

    Ms. Claire Wilson, Vice President, District 2

    Ms. Liz Drake, Legislative Liaison, District 3

    Ms. Carol Gregory, District 4

    Mr. Hiroshi Eto, District 5


     Zip code matters when it comes to the funding of schools in Washington state. As it currently exists, you can have two school districts right next to each other receiving different levels of funding which can significantly impact educational opportunities for students.

     The Washington State Supreme Court has ruled the present system to be unconstitutional and has required the Legislature to fully fund basic education, which many know as the “McCleary lawsuit.” The current basic education system was designed almost 40 years ago, and since inception it has disadvantaged the students and taxpayers of Federal Way by generating fewer educational dollars for our students based on a number of factors.

     Because Washington state is not fully funding basic education school districts have to rely on local levies to help fill the gap.

     To continue to allow school districts to collect local levy funding as a tax rate, we will continue to sustain the gross inequities in public education, guaranteeing that zip code will be a predictor of student success. Based on $1.00 per assessed valuations, the King County average per student is approximately $1,600. In Federal Way it is $543. We are grossly underfunded. The $1,050 per student difference amounts to an approximately $36.9 million gap for our students on an annual basis.

     We need new sources of income for the school district that must come from outside our community so that we can attract and retain the best teachers and provide the class size and the resources for them to bring their talent to our scholars and for our scholars to reach their potential.

     The Federal Way Public Schools’ strategic plan states two core beliefs that support the need for equitable opportunities for our students. We believe that EVERY scholar can learn at the highest level. We believe that race, socioeconomics, language, cultural background and other exceptionalities should not be predictors of student achievement.

     Today, we are asking you to take action by contacting our 30th Legislative District state officials to ask them to fully fund basic education and to address the funding gap in Federal Way. According to the state constitution the zip code inequity should not exist and our representatives are being held in contempt of court for not fixing the problem.

     Our community needs to challenge our state officials to act on our behalf to change the system with an urgency that recognizes that every year we delay is another graduating year that has lost out on their constitutional rights.

     Federal Way Public Schools are located in three different legislative districts. Here are the contacts for elected officials that represent each district.

     Washington State 30th Legislative District

     Senator Mark Miloscia: (360) 786-7658; Mark.Miloscia@leg.wa.gov

    Representative Mike Pellicciotti: (360) 786-7898; Mike.Pellicciotti@leg.wa.gov

    Representative Kristine Reeves: (360) 786-7830; Kristine.Reeves@leg.wa.gov


    Washington State 33rd Legislative District

     Senator Karen Keiser: (360) 786-7664; Karen.Keiser@leg.wa.gov

    Representative Mia Gregerson: (360) 786-7868; Mia.Gregerson@leg.wa.gov

    Representative Tina Orwall: (360) 786-7834; Tina.Orwall@leg.wa.gov


    Washington State 47th Legislative District

     Senator Joe Fain: (360) 786-7692; Joe.Fain@leg.wa.gov

    Representative Mark Hargrove: (360) 786-7918; Mark.Hargrove@leg.wa.gov

    Representative Pat Sullivan: (360) 786-7858; Pat.Sullivan@leg.wa.gov