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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Class Size Campaign Prepares To Do Battle With Washington Legislature

Colin Fogarty
Northwest News Network files

Washington Governor Jay Inslee will ask the legislature to amend a new voter-approved class size measure. That was the word this week from the governor’s budget director.

Meanwhile backers of Initiative 1351 say they will work to convince lawmakers to fully fund it.

The 2014 measure ordered the state to reduce class sizes in kindergarten through 12th grade. The specific class size targets come from the state’s Quality Education Council.

But achieving them could require 25,000 new teachers and support staff over the next four years. Some lawmakers have called the initiative a “budget buster.”

Mary Howes, who led the Class Size Counts campaign, disagrees with that viewpoint.

“It’s fascinating and it’s really disappointing that once again instead of talking about funding schools and doing what’s right for kids we’re looking for another excuse and another delay,” she said.

The Class Size Counts campaign was largely funded by state and national teachers’ unions. Any changes to the initiative this year would require a two-thirds vote of the legislature.

Even before the initiative passed, Washington lawmakers were in contempt of court over school funding.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."