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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane Public Schools plans to ask legislature for more funding for special education, transportation and more

By Jim Allen For The Spokesman-Review

Spokane Public Schools will lobby in the new year for greater state support for special education, the district board of directors decided Wednesday night.

The district also hopes to get more financial support for transportation, equity, capital costs and students’ behavioral and mental health needs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The district received generally upbeat news during a virtual session with lobbyist Melissa Gombosky.

As the Legislature prepares to convene in January, state revenue continue to exceed projections. Also, Democrats continue to hold a majority in both houses, which may tip the scales toward increased expenditures for public education.

Moreover, Spokane Democrat Andy Billig was re-elected as majority leader.

However, Gombosky outlined several factors, short-term and beyond, that could put educators’ wish list in jeopardy.

Personal income growth is slowing, as is the housing market as mortgage rates climb. Also, inflation continues to grow while consumer spending and employment growth are expected to slow.

Down the road, those factors, plus the ongoing war in Ukraine, have the potential to aggravate the larger economic outlook, she said.

In the meantime, school districts will push for increased state help.

In the past four years, the Legislature has increased funding options for special education and provided additional funding for safety net awards. During the presentation, Gombosky and the district said those steps “are appreciated, and we urge lawmakers to fully fund the cost of educating our special education students.”

The district also will ask the Legislature to rework the formula for reimbursement of transportation costs, which many districts say is below the amount they spend.