Seattle Public Schools


Government Relations

Government Relations

Government Relations in Seattle Public Schools is focused on promoting student learning by ensuring students, families, staff members and schools have the resources and services they need to effectively educate every child.

Ongoing Activity in Seattle Public Schools

  • Developing an annual legislative agenda for Seattle Public Schools
  • Communicating with local, state and federal officials about the district’s initiatives and legislative goals

State Legislative Priorities

Seattle has four priorities for the 2024 session:

  • Addressing Funding Gaps in Basic Education
  • Supporting Student Learning
  • Supporting Student Well-Being
  • Providing Stable and Equitable Operation

Addressing Funding Gaps in Basic Education

We are committed to improving outcomes for all students through the provision of basic education with the services and supports students need to engage in their learning. The current formulas to allocate state funding to school districts result in funding gaps that require districts to use local funds to cover the costs of meeting students’ needs. To address these structural issues and ensure every student is provided state-funded access to their basic education and mandated services, the funding formulas for Special Education Funding, Transportation Funding, and classified staff compensation need to be revised to fully fund these costs.

  • Special Education. Fully fund special education services at the state level, including the removal of the funding cap, to cover the cost of serving students, as determined by their IEPs (Individual Education Plans) or their Section 504 accommodations. Invest in inclusionary practices and provide resources for required language supports for multilingual families, so all families can engage in the IEP process. Even with recent funding increases by the Legislature, school district expenditures for special education services far exceed state funding levels.
  • Transportation. Revise the student transportation funding formula to be transparent, predictable, and fully cover the actual costs of student transportation. Allow additional types of vehicles to qualify for funding to provide more flexibility and stabilize operations, particularly for students requiring specialized transportation to accommodate disabilities indicated in students’ IEP or 504 plans and for students in other protected categories, such as students experiencing homelessness and students in foster care.
  • Classified Staff Salary and Prototypical Model. Classified staff, including paraeducators are essential members of school communities, providing learning and instructional support as part of students’ basic education, as well as ensuring safe, clean, and welcoming learning environments. Recognize and compensate classified staff and paraeducators as the valued education professionals they are by increasing the state allocation for their compensation and increasing staff positions in the prototypical model that are more reflective of the staff needed to run a school and support student outcomes.
  • School Construction Formula Modifications. The current school construction cost allocation program is antiquated and does not adequately reflect the true costs of school construction—with no meaningful increase in the funding formula in decades despite dramatic increases in construction costs. Increase state funding for both the area-cost allowance and the square-foot-per-student allocation for school construction is critical.
  • Support New State Revenue Options for Students. Support increasing progressive revenue options to better meet the needs of students. The state ultimately needs to rely on more than the property tax to fund K-12 education.

Supporting Student Learning

We are focusing on the heart of what we do as a school system: providing excellence in education for every student through high-quality teaching and learning experiences to prepare every Seattle Public Schools student for college, career, and community. To do this, students need access to learning supports, inclusive environments and universal design for learning, tutoring, and guidance on preparing for the next step.

  • Equity Based Supports. Provide supports for the diverse needs of all students—particularly Black, Native American, and Latinx students. Invest in access to mentoring and tutoring programs that support the whole student and prepare them for college, career, and life. Provide resources to support students’ participation in the new portfolio pathway for graduation.
  • Culturally Responsive Curriculum and Courses. Invest in curriculum that is aligned with best practice and universal design for learning, is culturally responsive, and is representative of diverse student backgrounds, history, and experience—including Black Studies, American Indian Studies, and Latinx Studies. Invest in the development and implementation of ethnic studies in districts, in alignment with the Washington State Ethnic Studies Framework and Washington State Learning Standards.

Supporting Student Well-Being

We recognize and appreciate the investments the Legislature has made in supporting student well-being in previous legislative sessions. To best support our students during the COVID-19 pandemic, we utilized the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to provide additional supports to our students, families, and educators— including trauma-informed mental health and social emotional supports, as well as restorative practices. These one-time funds are no longer available to districts, but the needs of our students, families, and educators for these supports continue to grow, requiring additional investments in physical safety as well as the supports increased during the 2023 legislative session.

  • School Safety. Invest in staff and systems to provide physically safe school buildings and learning environments for our students.
  • Mental Health, Social Emotional Learning, and Harm Reduction. Invest in maintaining culturally responsive, trauma-informed services and supports in mental health and social emotional learning for students and educators. Invest in raising student awareness of the dangers of addictive and harmful substances, promoting substance abuse prevention, and district capacity to prevent and respond to overdoses on school premises, transportation or during school-related activities.
  • Restorative Practices. Provide resources to transform school environments through restorative practices for students, and their families. Provide resources that allow us to change school culture, utilize alternatives to exclusionary discipline, repair harm caused by the impacts of disproportionate discipline and structural racism, and transform student-to-student and staff-to-student relationships.

Providing Stable and Equitable Operations

To accomplish our goals for Seattle students, we must attract and retain diverse, culturally responsive, and effective educators, including substitute teachers, provide high-quality learning environments and tools for students and educators, and provide stable and equitable operations for our students and families. State funding formulas play a key role in our system’s structural and operational stability.

  • Equitable Compensation to Retain and Recruit Diverse Work Force. Invest in staff salaries to allow districts to provide equitable and competitive compensation to educators, including increasing the substitute teacher reimbursement rate, and addressing inadequacies in the regionalization rates and experience factors. Preserve district ability to manage, partner, and innovate with school staff and leaders. Develop and implement multiple educator pathways and incentives to ensure sufficient and diverse staff are available to districts.
  • High Quality and Sustainable Capital Investments. Provide state capital funding for accessible, high-quality learning environments. Allow the use of capital funds to purchase electric vehicles to address climate change and reduce the district’s carbon footprint. Allow for flexibility in the use of local capital funds to cover maintenance costs and purchase curriculum. Support school districts’ success in achieving the goals of the state Clean Buildings Performance Standard by providing funding for required assessments and flexibility to develop alternative compliance pathways without financial penalties.
  • Sustainable Operations. Provide increases in the insurance allocation for Materials, Supplies, and Operating Costs to address rising insurance costs.
Statement from Seattle School Board Leadership and Superintendent Jones on 2023 Legislative Session

The Washington State Legislature made progress during the 2023 session on Seattle Public Schools priorities including special education funding.

Read the statement

The District’s Role

The district is actively lobbying our legislature to fully fund education. However, we are legally prohibited from encouraging the public to lobby on our behalf .

School Board members and SPS staff serve as advocates for Seattle Public Schools at the local, state and federal level. Part of the group’s work is to speak on behalf of all children and youth before governmental bodies and other organizations. 

In order to comply with state and federal rules, School Board and staff work with members of both political parties in order to enact change. When Seattle School Board members or district staff participate in legislative activities that educate lawmakers about officially adopted School Board positions or support a particular piece of legislation that is in agreement with the adopted legislative program, it is done on a strictly non-partisan basis.


We encourage interested students, parents, staff and community members to learn about the issues facing public education in Washington state. This webpage provides important information and links regarding the legislative work in Olympia as well as our county and city. It is important for our school system and society to have an informed and engaged citizenry.

Who represents you?

Find which congressional and legislative districts you live in and information about your local legislators at the Washington State Legislature’s District Lookup


Washington’s U.S. Congressional Delegation

Legislative information from the Library of Congress

U.S. Department of Education



Local advocacy groups