Building on language in the Washington constitution that entitles students to an “ample” education and states that providing such an education is a “paramount” duty of the state, as well as the Washington Supreme Court’s ordering substantial increases in instructional funding throughout the state pursuant to these constitutional requirement in McCleary v. State, 269 P.3d 227 (2012), the Wahkiakum School District recently filed a case in state Superior Court claiming a constitutional right to sufficient state funding to provide adequate school buildings to its children. Wahkiakum is a poor rural school district with 500 students.
Specifically, the Complaint alleges that the districts elementary, middle and high schools need approximately $50 million in construction funding “to safely provide the Wahkiakum School District’s …..students the “education” to which they have a positive, constitutional right under Article IX, §1 of the Washington State Constitution.” The district also states that it attempted to raise money to meet at least some of these costs by asking local voters to pass a bond measure to finance construction needs, but the voters did not approve that bond measure. Accordingly, the Complaint asks the Court to:
[R]equire the State to amply fund the construction costs needed to safely provide the Wahkiakum School District’s elementary school, middle school, and high school students the “education” to which they have a positive, constitutional right under Article IX, §1 of the Washington State Constitution. This amount exceeds $50 million. The full amount will be proven at trial.
Thomas Ahearne, the attorney who successfully litigated the McCleary case, is representing the school district in this litigation.
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