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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."

Merry-Go-Round Or Marathon? Lawyers Battle Over School Funding Progress

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The ongoing fight over school funding in Washington state known as the McCleary case was back in court Wednesday.

It’s back to school time. It was also back to court Wednesday for lawyers in an ongoing school funding lawsuit in Washington state.

Tom Ahearne is a lawyer for the parents and other plaintiffs in Washington’s ongoing school funding case known as McCleary. He said the state isn’t making adequate progress toward full funding of schools by next year.

Ahearne said the state is like a child playing make believe on a merry-go-round.

“You could pretend you’re doing something impressive, pretend you’re doing something important, but it just goes around in circles,” he said.

But Washington Deputy Solicitor General Alan Copsey offered the justices another image -- a runner 15 miles into a marathon.

“I’m not at the end yet, I still have a ways to go and maybe that’s the hardest part,” he said. “I hit that wall that they talk about, but I have made progress.”

Copsey said the legislature is poised to act next year to finish that marathon. He asked the court to lift a $100,000 per day sanction on the state.

Ahearne wants the justices to consider a much more aggressive sanction.

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."