Equity, access highlight WA superintendent’s budget requests

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OLYMPIA, Wash – Just as thousands of Washington students are learning at home instead of inside the classroom, the state superintendent of public instruction has laid out his priorities for the upcoming budget cycle.

Chris Reykdal shared his requests and priorities in a news release sent on Friday.

In it, Reykdal says, “COVID-19 has laid bare glaring systemic inequities that have long existed in K–12 education. Public safety has necessitated a more fluid and flexible education landscape, with access to broadband service and internet-connected devices at the center of student learning. Unaffordability of broadband service has become a barrier to a child’s ability to even enter a classroom, further widening existing opportunity gaps.”

He continues, “These crises are not new, but it is with a sense of urgency that I put forward a vision of education in the state of Washington that acknowledges the fundamental role of K–12 education in the lives of all Washingtonians, backed by the funding needed to build, maintain, and leverage such a system.”

Reykdal’s budget request includes providing funds to districts to buy and maintain learning devices and wifi hotspots for students who need them. Also, funds for increasing broadband connectivity.

Internet access inequity has been a problem nationwide as kids have had to transition to learning from home.

Reykdal says he also wants to increase funding for the state’s basic education model, “which holds staffing values at a level based largely on a study done nearly 50 years ago.”

The superintendent of public instruction also includes a request to “increase statewide capacity to support families, educators and communities in navigating our special education system.”

In the detailed budget request (linked here), Reykdal highlights a need for ensuring students have access to online learning spaces and opportunities at home, in schools and in child care facilities.

His request also includes increasing access to funding for the construction of elementary schools.

Details of the full budget request can be found here. 

“My budget proposal provides our state with a sustainable and realistic plan to make long-term capital investments in K-12 education, while simultaneously stimulating local economies as they recover from the impacts of COVID-19,” Reykdal wrote in a letter to Governor Inslee.

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