The legislature intends to improve the education of children by enabling parents to independently determine which school best meets their child's educational needs and empowering parents to be able to send their child to their school of choice. The legislature further intends to support parental school choice by making state-funded K-12 education vouchers a necessary component to fulfill the state's constitutional obligation under Article IX to amply fund a program of basic education.
The definitions in this section apply throughout this chapter unless the context clearly requires otherwise.
"Eligible child" means a person eligible to attend grades kindergarten through twelve in Washington state.
"Parent" means a parent, guardian, or other person or entity having legal custody of an eligible child.
"Private school" means an approved private school under chapter 28A.195 RCW.
"Public school" means a public school as defined in RCW 28A.150.010.
"Voucher" or "K-12 education voucher" is a payment credit provided to an eligible child through their parent, which may be redeemed at a designated voucher-redeeming school. A voucher is basic education funding under Article IX of the state Constitution.
"Voucher-redeeming school" means any public school and any approved private school, located within Washington state.
Beginning with the 2021-22 school year, the state shall annually provide a K-12 education voucher to every eligible child whose parent applies for a K-12 education voucher. Vouchers may be redeemed at any voucher-redeeming school.
The K-12 education voucher value for each eligible child must be not less than nine thousand dollars beginning in the 2021-22 school year and annually adjusted thereafter for inflation as specified in the omnibus appropriations act.
To obtain a K-12 education voucher for an eligible child, a parent must apply to the office of the superintendent of public instruction by August 1st of each year.
K-12 education vouchers are not taxable income of the child or the parent of the child receiving the K-12 education voucher. The parent of the child receiving a K-12 education voucher is free to choose any voucher-redeeming school, and this selection is not a decision or act of the state or any of its subdivisions.
After the parent designates the enrolling school to receive the K-12 education voucher funds, the office of the superintendent of public instruction shall disburse the K-12 education voucher funds in equal monthly amounts directly to the school for the education of the child for which the K-12 education voucher is provided.
Expenditures for K-12 education vouchers issued under this chapter count toward the minimum state funding requirements for basic education established under Article IX of the Washington state Constitution.
For fiscal purposes, a child who receives a K-12 education voucher is a resident of the school district in which the child is enrolled.
Nothing in this chapter affects the laws and rules in existence on the effective date of this section pertaining to home-based instruction, including chapter 28A.200 RCW.
The office of the superintendent of public instruction shall adopt rules to implement this chapter.
The program of basic education established under this chapter is deemed by the legislature to comply with the requirements of Article IX, section 1 of the state Constitution, which states that "It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex," and is adopted pursuant to Article IX, section 2 of the state Constitution, which states that "The legislature shall provide for a general and uniform system of public schools."
The legislature defines the program of basic education under this chapter as that which is necessary to provide the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to meet the state-established high school graduation requirements that are intended to allow students to have the opportunity to graduate with a meaningful diploma that prepares them for postsecondary education, gainful employment, and citizenship. Basic education by necessity is an evolving program of instruction intended to reflect the changing educational opportunities that are needed to equip students for their role as productive citizens and includes the following:
The instructional program of basic education the minimum components of which are described in RCW 28A.150.220;
The program of education provided by chapter 28A.190 RCW for students in residential schools as defined by RCW 28A.190.020 and for juveniles in detention facilities as identified by RCW 28A.190.010;
The program of education provided by chapter 28A.193 RCW for individuals under the age of eighteen who are incarcerated in adult correctional facilities;
Transportation and transportation services to and from school for eligible students as provided under RCW 28A.160.150 through 28A.160.180;
Statewide salary allocations necessary to hire and retain qualified staff for the state's statutory program of basic education**; and**
Vouchers or K-12 education vouchers as defined in section 2 of this act, which support parental choice of schools for their child.
Sections 1 through 5 of this act constitute a new chapter in Title 28A RCW.
If any provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the act or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances is not affected.