I-1351 still ahead according to latest voting results

Town Crier

A state initiative mandating smaller classes sizes in K-12 education has seen a steady rise in support according to the most recent voting figures, though a significant number of ballots remain to be counted before final results can be declared.

Initiative 1351 was passing with 50.47 percent of voter support, or a margin of 17,702 votes, according to figures published this afternoon by the Washington Secretary of State's Office. But with an estimated 161,010 ballots yet to be counted throughout the state, analysts will be unable to declare its passage or failure until clearer results are reported in coming days.

When initial election results were posted on Nov. 4, I-1351 was failing at the time with 50.57 percent disapproval, though as of Friday afternoon, the measure had been ahead with just 50.01 percent of voter support.

Proponents of the measure say smaller class sizes would allow for students a greater opportunity to be educated based on their individual needs, which some have argued is not possible when a teacher has too many students to focus on at once.

Opponents, including many local school districts, say the initiative provides no funding to account for the extra staff and classrooms needed to comply with the measure, and encouraged voters to instead depend on the state legislature to adequately fund education, as they have been directed to do by the State Supreme Court in their ruling on McCleary vs. State.

Financial support for I-1351 was directed by super PAC Class Size Counts, who raised $4,424,650 largely through contributions from teachers' unions, including the National Education Association (who contributed $1.6 million), the Washington Education Association (who contributed $1.3 million), and the Public School Employees of Washington (who contributed $100,000).

According to Class Size Counts' website, http://www.yeson1351.com, they are optimistic in light of these recent voting results, stating, "If this trend continues, kids in our state will finally get the smaller class sizes they need to succeed."