Latest ‘hold harmless’ one-time school funding estimates released

The Aberdeen School District will get about half of the “hold harmless” funds previously estimated, while Hoquiam will receive over $100,000 more, according to new estimates released May 24 by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

“Hold harmless” funds come from legislation passed recently to provide for one-time funding to give temporary relief to the school districts that suffered funding losses or minimal funding gains under the model created by the Legislature after the McCleary decision by the Washington State Supreme Court, which forced the state to fully fund K-12 education.

Aberdeen is in line to receive additional revenue estimated at $531,775 for the 2019-20 school year, compared with the $961,805 estimated and posted previously by the Washington State Parent Teacher Association. Hoquiam is in line for $541,778, compared with the $429,760 the association posted earlier.

Here’s the latest breakdown of estimated “hold harmless” funding for nearby districts from the superintendent’s office, compared with the previous estimates put out by the state PTA:

• Cosmopolis, $417,933 (down from $423,504)

• Elma, $931,604 (up from $909,653)

• McCleary, $263,180 (up from $125,238)

• Montesano, $297,927 (up from $138,228)

• Ocosta, $248,856 (up from $99,270)

• Quinault, $139,808 (up from $112,414)

• Satsop, $97,210 (up from $97,027)

• Willapa Valley, $81,734 (up from $44,874)

Local school districts are in the process of deciding the best use of these additional funds. Hoquiam Superintendent Mike Villarreal said earlier this month his district is exploring possibilities for the funding, but how it will be spent is still under discussion as the total amount is fine tuned.

The estimates have changed from those distributed earlier this month by other state agencies because they “reflect the final levy and local effort assistant statutes as approved” in the Legislature this past session, according to a statement from T.J. Kelly, CFO of the superintendent’s office.

That legislation, Senate Bill 5313, raised the cap on local levies from $1.50 per $1,000 in assessed property value — the amount set by the Legislature in 2018 as they approved legislation that put the burden on the state to fully fund K-12 education and lessened the tab for local jurisdictions — to $2.50.

These latest figures are still not final. According to Kelly, 2018-19 school year data “is one of the benchmarks for comparison in the calculations” deciding what districts will receive in “hold harmless” funding for the upcoming school year. Final amounts will not be determined until 2018-19 data is finalized in January 2020.

“Hold harmless” payments to the school districts “will be paid out according to the apportionment payment schedule as defined in statute,” according to Kelly’s statement. “Amounts will not be paid out in a single lump sum payment.”

The agency did not provide a timeline for the distribution of funds.