Mid-Columbia school district superintendents had mixed reactions to a K-12 education budget proposed by House Republicans in Olympia on Thursday.
Pasco Superintendent Saundra Hill said the process of finalizing a budget at the state level is far from over, but she will continue to monitor the situation in Olympia.
"Any strategy the Legislature can come up with to amply fund K-12 education is necessary and welcome," she said in a news release.
Other superintendents were less welcoming of the proposal.
"I don't think it goes as far as it needs to amply fund education," said Richland Superintendent Jim Busey.
The budget proposal is part the Legislature's latest attempt to properly fund education following a Washington Supreme Court ruling finding the state was in violation of its constitution for not amply funding education.
Busey said the court found that the state needed to provide close to $9,700 per student in order to cover its obligation to education. The state currently doles out about $5,000 per student.
He acknowledged that the Republican proposal would cut far less than Gov. Chris Gregoire's plan. However, Gregoire also has recommended raising the sales tax to help cover her cuts, while the Republicans do not plan to raise revenue. At the same time, the court has said the education budget could not be cut further for solely fiscal reasons.
"The (court) ruling was very clear," Busey said.
Prosser Superintendent Ray Tolcacher said part of the problem with the proposal was that it would eliminate non-basic education programs, along with freezing teacher salaries and other reductions.
"There are many unfunded mandates from the Legislature which they consider not part of 'basic education,' yet impose on us to find as a result of laws that are not clearly funded when enacted," he said in an email.
Tolcacher and Columbia School District Superintendent Lou Gates in Burbank added that at the bottom line, the budget proposal still involves cutting money, something districts cannot continue to absorb.
"We're going to have to look and see how to cut from what I think is a right-sized budget," Gates said, adding that his district worked hard to preserve a budget to adequately meet student needs.
w Herald staff intern Eric Francavilla contributed to this report.