Here's a sampling of the some of the discussions that came out of Education Lab's first Reddit AMA.
We never know what we’ll get when we try new ways to communicate with readers.
And we always worry a little — wondering, for example, if anyone will show up for online chats.
So we were happy to get many good questions in Education Lab’s first Reddit AMA, which focused on school funding. (For you non-Reddit users, an AMA, short for “Ask Me Anything,” is a common way to invite users to participate in a Q&A thread.)
All in all, we received 36 questions — thanks to all who participated.
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If you weren’t able to get your question answered by our team, it’s possible someone else already asked the same thing. Here’s a recap of some of the questions and answers:
doctortaco1: Where does the $100,000/day fine the Supreme Court levied against the State Congress go? Who is actually responsible for paying that fine?
Claudia Rowe: Good question, one that I had as well. The answer is that the money is merely totaled on a rolling ledger — it doesn’t actually exist in any budget. When we wrote about this several months ago, legislators told me that the final number would be part of whatever education funding comes out of the McCleary debate. In other words, it’s pretty much symbolic.
Joeskyyy: Are there any other plans in motion or being developed for achieving proper funding without property taxes being increased?
Neal Morton: So far, every McCleary plan on the table would have a mixed impact on property taxes. The governor’s proposal would lower local tax levies in more than 75 percent of school districts but balance that with $4 billion in new revenue coming from a capital gains and carbon emissions taxes. It also would increase the state business-and-occupation tax.
Republicans in the Senate want to restrict local tax levies but would set a statewide property tax rate of $1.80, which would lower the rate paid in many districts but also increase the rate in about one-fifth of districts, including Seattle.
Democrats would not increase local levies but have proposed changes to the state property tax, a capital-gains tax and carbon pricing as potential revenue sources.
TheRain: How do you justify the idea that higher salaries for teachers in one district means that the kids in the other district are receiving less money per pupil?
Claudia Rowe: There are a few things going on here. The state’s formulas drive money for extra-help programs to districts based on staffers’ salaries. But that doesn’t necessarily go directly to those teachers — it’s an allocation. It can, however, mean less money for extra help in districts with less senior staffers.
I’m not sure that people in struggling districts would consider this fair to the kids there.