Beginning on Aug. 13, 2015, a frustrated Washington Supreme Court began fining the state $100,000 a day for failing to fully fund basic education.
Since then, there has been more delay, including the 2016 legislative session’s “plan for a plan.” Filed with the Supreme Court last summer, the plan called for a bipartisan legislative task force to produce a possible McCleary solution by Jan. 9. The court took a dim view of that plan, kept the fine in place and gave state leaders one more chance — this legislative session.
A bipartisan plan has not materialized. So, the fine continues to add up. As of Sunday (March 5), it is up to $57 million. If and when the fine is ever paid, the money should be spent in classrooms. [Read the companion editorial.]
To give perspective on the scale, the editorial board compared it to a list of other sizable expenditures in the private and public sector.
Two-thirds of a Boeing 737-700
4.6 Russell Wilsons
Russell Wilson’s 2016 salary contract: $12,342,000
337.7 Gov. Inslees
Gov. Jay Inslee’s salary (2015): $168,800
20 Coach Mike Leaches
WSU head football Coach Mike Leach’s salary (2015): $2,850,000
1,267 starting Seattle teachers
In Seattle starting teachers are paid about $45,000.
3.8 new elementary schools
According to School Planning and Management, a trade publication, in 2015 it cost $15 million to build an average elementary school, $30 million for a middle school and $50 million for a high school.
6,847 preschool slots
for low-income kids eligible but not able to attend high-quality preschool, which costs $8,325 per child, according to the Department of Early Learning.
75.6 new electric buses
for King County Metro, which is purchasing 73 zero-emission, battery-powered buses for $55 million (what a coincidence).
5.7 miles of new state highway
According to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, it could cost as much as $10 million to build one mile of a four-lane highway.