King County Council passes historic investments to improve educational outcomes for students
On Tuesday, the King County Council unanimously passed the implementation plan for the Puget Sound Taxpayer Accountability Account (PSTAA), which will invest approximately $318 million over 15 years to improve educational outcomes for King County students.
“Education and early learning are critical to our children’s success, but too many miss out on opportunities because of persistent, systemic inequities due to race and income,” said King County Council Chair Claudia Balducci. “This fund, carefully crafted with both expert educators and community partners, will provide early learning facilities, K-12 educational supports, and a Promise program to launch students into post-secondary learning and careers.”
The implementation plan guides how the funds will be invested across three strategies:
1. early learning facilities,
2. the King County Promise, and
3. K-12 community-based organizations. It also provides recommendations for governance of the funds and evaluation of the outcomes.
Early learning facilities will receive 52% of the funding and will fund construction and renovations of early learning and early intervention facilities, as well as homebased childcare services. The King County Promise will receive 38% of the funding and will provide services that support young people starting in high school through postsecondary acceptance and completion. K-12 community-based organizations will receive 10% of the funding and will initially fund a pilot called “Love and Liberation”, where Black, Indigenous, and People of Color-led organization will provide programs to youth in their communities that focus on positive racial and ethnic identity development.
“I’m particularly proud of working with former Councilmember Larry Gossett to draft language that allows funding to go to Love and Liberation, a groundbreaking pilot that will explicitly empower organizations with staff and leadership that have relevant lived experience or expertise in this area, and reflect the communities to be served,” Balducci said.
PSTAA was created by the Washington State Legislature as an amendment to the 2015 State Transportation Revenue Package. It directs that a portion of Sound Transit-related funds be used for educational services to improve educational outcomes in early learning, K-12, and post-secondary education. The funds are allocated to counties located within the Sound Transit district who then decide how to allocate them for educational purposes.
King County’s decision-making process began with a July 2017 special King County Council Committee of the Whole meeting in Kent. Since then, the Council has engaged in careful deliberation and an extensive community process. In December 2017, the Council passed Motion 15029, sponsored by Councilmember Balducci, to study the educational needs in King County and possible strategies to meet those needs. In August 2019, the Council passed Motion 15492 deciding how the funding would be allocated across the three strategies.
A broad, diverse set of community stakeholders provided input throughout the three-year process. The Committee of the Whole considered each motion, meaning all nine councilmembers were involved and worked together to find consensus at each stage of the process.