Letters to the Editor

FWay schools stand to lose

In the coming weeks, the Legislature will be considering House Bill 1082, also known as the Ruderman Bill. This bill would give some school districts the authority to levy additional local taxes to compensate for the higher costs of living in some communities in the state.

While I agree in principal with the Legislature’s efforts to recognize the inequities in the cost of living across the state, I do not support this bill. It benefits only those districts that already collect the most money from both the state and local taxpayers. It does nothing to aid the vast majority of districts and their students.

The Federal Way school district has one of the highest tax rates of any district in King County, more than double the county average. However, we collect less money per student in levy dollars than any other district in the county because of lower assessed property values in this district.

What’s more, when local and state dollars are added together, Federal Way receives the least total funding per pupil of all districts in King County. This is partly the result of both levy lid and administrative pay-level limits that were grandfathered when the State Basic Education Act was passed in 1977. The disparity in levy lids already allows districts like Bellevue, Seattle, Tukwila and Mercer Island to collect about 25 percent more in levy dollars than Federal Way does. With the Ruderman Bill, those districts stand to outpace us even further in funding per pupil.

Make no mistake. The Ruderman Bill is simply an increase in the levy lid and will ultimately further increase the disparity between the privileged and underprivileged in the state.

I strongly urge our legislators to oppose this bill.

Tom Murphy

Superintendent, Federal Way Public Schools

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