A Guide for Students and Families - Education, politics, and families
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Washington State Public Education:
A Guide for Students and Families

Education, politics, and families

Washington schools get most of their money from state government. Every two years, the state legislature passes a budget that tells schools how much they will get for various programs and expenses. School districts raise the rest of the money for schools by asking local voters to pass school levies. Levies are local property taxes for schools. These local levies usually make up 15–20% of the school district budget.

There are 295 school districts in the state of Washington, and each school district is governed by an elected school board. Members of school boards (also called Directors) are elected by the voters of each community. School board members hire and supervise the Superintendent, develop local education laws and rules (called board or district policies) and approve the district's budget and academic programs. The state legislature also makes other laws and rules that school districts must follow.

At both the state and local level, the voices of families are very important. Families can make a big difference in the quality of our children's education by speaking up at local school board meetings, and by contacting our state legislators to let them know what we think our children need.

There are also many parent organizations that work to improve our schools. The biggest is the PTA (Parent Teacher Association). It is a national organization that has a state office in Washington and local chapters at most schools. Ask your school secretary about how to contact the school's PTA. There are also other organizations families can connect with to support better education for our children. See the back of this booklet for a list.

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For more information:

Parents' Guide to School Board Advocacy in Washington

Bullying at School

How Does a School District Work?

Old Capitol Building, PO Box 47200, 600 Washington St. S.E., Olympia, WA  98504-7200  (360) 725-6000  TTY (360) 664-3631
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