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Eye On Olympia

McCain visit, school budgets and the grant that dried up…

Catching up…

— Dinner with John McCain in Bellevue can be yours next week, for $33,100 a plate.

— The Everett Herald’s Jerry Cornfield takes a closer look at the widespread budget woes of school districts.

— And finally this: An impasse between a Texas-based educational foundation and the union-backed state compensation rules for Washington teachers has cost schools — including Spokane’s — more than $13 million in math and science help for thousands of students.

It looks like The Vancouver Columbian’s Howard Buck broke that story Saturday:

A $13.2 million, five-year grant from the National Math and Science Initiative, designed to add new Advanced Placement teachers, courses and exams for thousands of Washington high school students, has been scrubbed.

The reasons?

The state’s rule against merit pay for teachers, and top-down inflexibility, said discouraged Southwest Washington program leaders who broke the news Friday.

…Despite weeks of talks, no way was found around teachers union collective bargaining rules to meet the rigid guidelines of the grant organization.

Among the casualties: state Rep. Bill Fromhold, D-Vancouver, who said months ago that he’d step down from the Legislature this year in order to run the grant. As Buck wrote, “the job has evaporated.” More:

Rich Wood, spokesman for the Washington Education Association, said many nonprofits have granted money to school districts without this outcome.

“Some outside group can’t impose a new system of pay on teachers,” Wood said. “That’s just not the way that schools work in our state.”

The Seattle Times had a similar story on Monday.

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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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