How School Funding Works In the State of Washington
The Washington State Constitution establishes the education of all children as the paramount duty of the State. It requires the State to make ample provision for a uniform system of public schools. To carry out its constitutional responsibility, the State dedicates almost half of all State General Fund resources to support public schools which ranks Washington State schools among the highest in the nation in the percent of school district revenue provided from State sources. State funding is distributed to school districts through numerous formulas and grants to assure equitable funding that recognizes variable costs of districts and the special needs of disadvantaged students. State funding is supplemented with federal and local funding.
The financial management of schools rests with locally elected school boards in the state’s 295 school districts. In addition to the local school board, the state, through OSPI (Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction) and the local ESD (educational service district) supervises school district budgeting, accounting, and financial reporting to provide consistent financial management and accountability. In addition, the State Auditor conducts annual examinations of school districts’ finances to ensure sound accounting practices and compliance with state and federal fiscal policy.
School districts account for the day-to-day maintenance and operations of the district in their General Fund. Other funds are used to account for specialized activities. These include:
- Capital Projects - Fund for the acquisition of land, equipment, exisitng and new facilities, and capital improvements
- Debt Service - Fund for redemption of bonds and payment of interest
- Transportation - Fund for the acquisition and maintenance of buses
- Associated Student Body (ASB) - Fund for student activities.