Thursday, March 9, 2017

WSPTA Upcoming Advocacy Events Report

Education (House) - HHR A, JLOB - 3/13 @ 1:30pm
SSB 5241 - Public Hearing - Concerning the educational success of youth who are homeless or in foster care.

Capital Budget (House) - HHR B, JLOB - 3/14 @ 3:30pm
ESSB 5702 - Public Hearing - Improving state funding for school construction, modernization, and asset preservation.

Early Learning & Human Services (House) - HHR C, JLOB - 3/15 @ 1:30pm
2SSB 5107 - Public Hearing - Facilitating local funding and involvement in expanding early childhood education and assistance program eligibility.

Human Services, Mental Health & Housing (Senate) - SHR 2, JACB - 3/15 @ 1:30pm
SHB 1867 - Public Hearing - Improving transitions in extended foster care to increase housing stability for foster youth.

Early Learning & K-12 Education (Senate) - SHR 1, JACB - 3/16 @ 1:30pm
EHB 1551 - Public Hearing - Creating a competitive equipment assistance grant program to enhance
student nutrition in public schools.

SHB 1618 - Public Hearing - Concerning family and community engagement coordinators.

Senate Advances Bill to Extend Levy Cliff to 2019

As its last bill of the March 8 cutoff, the Senate Wednesday night passed an amended bill on the "levy cliff" (ESB 5023), with all members voting in favor; with the exception of Republican Senator Michael Baumgartner of West Spokane. The Senate ran their version of the bill so they could change the title to be about excess levies and not the levy cliff.

The striking amendment offered by Senator Fain:
·        Extends current local levy authority and LEA through January 1, 2019;
·        Requires that all levies collected in calendar year 2018, and thereafter, be deposited into a local revenue sub-fund of the general fund to enable detailed accounting of the amount and the object of expenditures; and
·        Requires that any enrichment levies going to the voters after January 1, 2018 be approved by Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) before being placed on the ballot. Districts planning to go to the voters with an M&O enrichment levy would be required to create a detailed report of the activities to be funded and then submit that report to OSPI for approval. The bill states that enrichment levies beyond the state-provided funding in the omnibus appropriations act for the basic education program components under RCW 28A.150.260 (prototypical schools funding formula) are a permitted use.

WSPTA members are strongly encouraged to listen to the debate, which led to the 48-1 vote. 
It will be critical that school districts, parents, and other education advocates explain the gap story in their school and district, which basically means having a better understanding of what it actually costs to run that school, serve its students, and attract and retain professional educators. 

Members are encouraged to write House and Senate members to express their thanks that a levy extension bill is in play. But messages also should stress that with prohibitions on the use of local levies for activities deemed basic education, the state will have to step up in a really big way. Otherwise, areas that are underfunded now and where local funds are supplementing the most basic of activities - like transportation, nurses, and special education - will fall short in the final education funding solution. 

Prepared by:
WSPTA Legislative Consultant

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Senate Passes Paraeducator Bill Today - Update

In a strong bipartisan vote, the Senate today approved a comprehensive para-educator development program. SB 5070 passed on a 37-12 vote and will require standards, professional development, a career ladder, a more accessible path to teacher certification, and training for teachers who supervise para-educators. Support for Standards for Para-educators is a Top 5 Priority Platform issue for Washington State PTA, so we’re excited to see the Senate take this important step forward. 

Author
Beth Sigall 
VP Family & Community Engagement
Lake Washington PTSA Council

Monday, March 6, 2017

TeleTown Hall Meetings with Your Legislator

Throughout the session Legislators use a variety of methods to stay connected with constituents. While some Legislators have already hosted meetings locally and/or host regular ―TeleTown Hall Meetings, on Saturday, March 11, many legislative districts will be hosting in-person Town Halls. Check out the House Democratic Caucus and Senate Democratic Caucus web sites for a good list of meetings that will be happening all over the state next weekend. While the Republican Caucus sites do not appear to have a compilation of meetings posted, we do know of a few who are also hosting meetings March 11. The most efficient way for WSPTA members to find out if your legislators are hosting a Town Hall is to contact them directly.

Prepared by:
Marie Sullivan
WSPTA Legislative Consultant


Session Has Passed the Half-Way Point

With most of the action occurring on the House and Senate floors, lawmakers got down to business, passing bills this past week in anticipation of the March 8, deadline of 5 p.m. This is the next cutoff for bills that aren’t deemed “Necessary To Implement the Budget” (NTIB), and includes most policy bills with no fiscal impact. On March 9, policy and budget committees will once again start holding public hearings, but this time on the bills that have passed from one chamber to the other.

This week continued the political theater in the Senate, when the Majority Caucus pulled Governor Jay Inslee’s tax proposals to the floor. Republicans said it was to get a handle on which revenue proposals Senate Democrats would support to fund K-12 education. For their part, Senate Democrats dismissed the move as unproductive and countered with mentioning the upcoming levy cliff nearly every time they spoke.

Behind the scenes, key legislators from both parties and chambers began meeting to discuss how the state will go about reducing its reliance on local school levies to meet the state’s constitutional obligation for ample funding of public schools. A modified “6195 group” is meeting Mondays and Wednesdays for the next few weeks to find common ground and a path forward on K-12 funding. The Senate Republican plan is SB 5607; the House and Senate Democrat plan is ESHB1843.

As a possible bridge or alternative to the existing proposals, the Senate Ways & Means Committee heard testimony on PSSB5825, Sen. Mark Mullet’s, D-Issaquah, education funding proposal. Most people testifying thanked Senator Mullet for putting forward another idea, but none publicly endorsed it; most raised issues with the funding approach. The video clip is about 90 minutes long, but is worth listening to the explanation.

Here’s a quick reminder of a few of the key elements of each funding proposal - download. Read the updated bill tracker here.


Status of Top 5Legislative Priorities – Update & Focus for Members this Week
1. Social and Emotional Learning

Focus for members: Continue to support the staffing as described in HB 1377 and HB 1621; support inclusion of operating budget provisos for Summer ECEAP and continuation of the SEL Benchmarks Work Group. 

2. Amply Funding Basic Education

Focus for members: Review 2017 positions and share not just the ample funding but ALL of the positions. They provide a blueprint for many of the activities WSPTA hopes are in the final education funding plan. Talk with legislators about the need to add NEW money into the system and why just replacing local levies with state funding isn’t ample or comprehensive.  

3. Closing the Opportunity Gap
Focus for members: Additional funding for students who struggle, whether in a weighted per pupil model or categorical program, is needed if we expect different outcomes for our students who are challenged by an opportunity and achievement gap. To close this gap requires a more systematic approach to students’ academic and non-academic needs – the “whole child.”

4. Standards for Para-educators 
Focus for members: ESHB 1115 passed the House this week. The bill is disappointing, in that the bill no longer sets up minimum certification and specialty endorsements for para-educators working in ELL and Special Education. While the bill does include training, which we welcome, our aim is that the final, negotiated bill reflect our priority platform position as much as possible.

SB 5070, the Senate bill, is still waiting to be voted out of the Senate. The entire bill, however, was also inserted into the Senate Republican’s education funding bill – SB 5607. 

5. Breakfast after the Bell
Focus for members: By a bipartisan vote of 90-8, ESHB 1508 passed the House. Let your Senators know that WSPTA fully supports this legislation and wants it to pass this session. Also, look at the Housevote count, and send a note to House members who voted in favor of this legislation.  
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2017 WSPTA Supported Issues:
Improving Educational Outcomes for Foster Children
SSB 5241 passed the Senate and in the House Education Committee.

Engaging Families in Student Success
Focus for members: SHB 1618 is the bill that would define Family & Community Engagement Coordinators, and ensure that funding allocated for them could only be used for this staffing. The bill is in House Rules, so please contact your House members and ask them to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.   

Post-Secondary/Higher Education Access and Affordability
Focus for members: Two bills are on the House floor calendar, which means they are ready for a vote. Please contact House members and ask them to vote on HB 1452 (expansion of the opportunity scholarship) and HB 1512 (expansion of College Bound Scholarship eligibility) before the March 8 cutoff.

Removing Barriers to Implementing ECEAP
Focus for members: Expansion of ECEAP, and the Summer ECEAP program will be handled in the operating budget. But it isn’t too early to let your House and Senate members know about the importance of early learning education and the need to increase slots to provide access to more preschoolers.

Restorative Justice and School Safety
It would appear that SSB 5155, which would limit the number of days students in grades K-2 could be suspended or expelled, may not move. OSPI is drafting rules to implement discipline policies adopted in the 2016 session under HB 1541 (see Closing the Opportunity Gap position), and concern has been raised about the impact new discipline laws would have on rule-making and implementation of discipline rules, and related model policies and procedures for school districts.  

Week in Review
Action this week was on the floor, so WSPTA advocated with legislators on the 2017 platform and priorities.

The Week Ahead
Action continues on the floor, but returns to committee work on March 9th. Next cutoff is March 29th

Friday, March 3, 2017

Breakfast After the Bell passes House 90-8

About 6:15 pm March 2, the House passed House Bill (HB) 1508, Breakfast after the Bell, by an overwhelming margin of 90-8.
Speaking in favor of the legislation were sponsor Representative Monica Stonier, D-49; Representative Paul Harris, R-17; and Representative Norm Johnson, R-14.
WSPTA parents Heather Lindberg, Michael Steffan, and Corina Pfeil each testified in support of this Top 5 priority, as  it was being deliberated in the House.
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Fiscal Cutoff Spells End for Many Bills

Fiscal committees worked overtime this past week, with the House meeting into early
evening Friday the 24th to act on policy bills that had some impact on the state budget. Typically bills that are linked to the operating or capital budget aren’t subject to the deadlines, but nothing is officially off the table until the gavel falls April 23rd. Policy bills that failed to pass their respective fiscal committees may see life in the operating or capital budgets as provisos or return as “trailing bills.”
  
The session is nearing the half-way mark of the 105-day session, and the focus shifts over the next two weeks to floor action. Bills must pass by 5 p.m. on March 8 from the chamber where they started to remain under consideration. The biggest exception would be budget bills. Speaking of which, an economic review will occur March 2, with the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council meeting at 10 a.m. on March 16 to get the most current report on projected revenue for fiscal year 2017, and the 2017-19 biennium.

Status of Top Five Legislative Priorities - Update
1.       Social and Emotional Learning
·         All three bills, HB 1377, HB 1518, and HB 1621 died in House Appropriations. Two of the bills (HB 1377 and HB 1621) are somewhat linked to the House Democrats’ education funding bill – ESHB 1843 – so may be resurrected soon. Elements of HB 1518, which included an extension of the SEL benchmarks work group and a summer ECEAP pilot project, may be inserted into the House operating budget as provisos. Members talking with their legislators should share this request.
2.      Amply Funding Basic Education
·         ESHB 1843, the House Democrat education funding plan, was sent to the Senate on a party-line vote of 50-48. It is expected that negotiations on the two major plans (HB 1843 and SB 5607) will begin in earnest. New district-by-district fiscal impact charts have been released by Senate Republicans.
·         On Monday, February 27, at 10 a.m., the Senate Ways & Means Committee will hear public testimony on a substitute of Senator Mark Mullet’s education funding plan, SB 5825.
3.      Closing the Opportunity Gap
·         A bill that would increase funding for LAP, HB 1511, and two bills (HB 2075 and SB 5758) that would have added $400 per student for various academic-focused activities both failed to pass their respective fiscal committees. Like the SEL bills above, it is possible elements of these bills will show up in the education funding solution.
4.      Standards for Para-educators
·         SHB 1115 and SB 5070 were passed from their fiscal committees and are in the Rules Committee. The Rules Committee is the stopping point before bills are referred to the floor for action.  
5.      Breakfast after the Bell
·      Even as amended, SSB 5696 failed to pass the Senate Ways & Means Committee.
·       SHB 1508 passed out of House Appropriations and is in the Rules Committee.
2017 WSPTA Supported Issues:
·         Improving Educational Outcomes for Foster Children
o   SSB 5241 is in the Senate Rules committee.
·         Engaging Families in Student Success
o   SHB 1618 is in House Rules.  
·         Post-Secondary/Higher Education Access and Affordability
o   Many of the access and affordability bills died last Friday. These include: HB 1425 (next generation education savings account); HB 1840 (Washington promise program); and HB 1847 (state goal of 50/50 cost-share for state/attendee tuition and fees);
o   Those that are still in play include: HB 1452 (expansion of the opportunity scholarship) and HB 1512 (expansion of College Bound Scholarship eligibility).
·         Removing Barriers to Implementing ECEAP
o   Two bills to create a grant and loan program to increase the number of early learning facilities are both still under consideration. The bills are HB 1777 and SB 5753.
·         Restorative Justice and School Safety
o   SSB 5155, focused on limiting the number of days students in grades K-2 could be suspended or expelled is eligible for floor action.
Week in Review
Northshore parent Corina Pfeil testified for the first time before the House Appropriations Committee in support of HB 1508, the breakfast after the bell bill. She did a lot of research to prepare for the meeting, and represented WSPTA very well.
Senate Republicans announced revised materials and district-by-district analyses of their proposal, SB 5607. Follow the link here to read the various documents.

The Week Ahead
Monday, February 27
10 a.m., Senate Ways & Means, SHR 4
 ·         Public hearing on proposed substitute SB 5825, Mullet’s education funding plan

Tuesday, February 28
8 a.m., House Education – HHR A - tentative
·         Work Session on teacher shortage

_______________________________________________
Prepared by 
Marie Sullivan
WSPTA Legislative Consultant

Thursday, February 23, 2017

National PTA Disappointed with Administration’s Rescission of Guidance to Protect Transgender Students

ALEXANDRIA, Va., (Feb. 22, 2017)—The following statement can be attributed to National PTA President Laura Bay:

Today, the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice sent a letter to the nation’s schools rescinding guidance released in May 2016 on their obligations under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) regarding a student’s gender identity. The guidance had stated that a school must not treat a transgender student differently from the way it treats other students of the same gender identity under the law.

“National PTA is extremely disappointed that the Administration has rescinded the guidance. Every child deserves to receive a great education in a setting free from discrimination, harassment and violence. The vast majority of LGBTQ students, however, are bullied, physically assaulted and feel unsafe in school because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or identity. There is a need for explicit protection of LGBTQ youth as it is critical to their overall health and well-being and long-term success.

“National PTA and its constituent associations are committed to advocating for policies and protections for LGBTQ youth to make sure they have positive school experiences and the opportunity to reach their full potential. National PTA adopted a resolution in 2016 on the Recognition of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) Individuals as a Protected Class. The resolution calls for federal policies that specifically protect LGBTQ youth and local practices that create and maintain safe, affirming and inclusive learning environments for all students.

“It has long been a top priority of National PTA to make sure all children have a safe, supportive and positive environment in which to thrive and learn. The association remains dedicated to supporting transgender students—as it is every student—and will push for policies and practices to ensure that federal, state and local entities protect all children.” 

About National PTA

National PTA® comprises millions of families, students, teachers, administrators and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of family engagement in schools. PTA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health and welfare of children and youth.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Breakfast After the Bell Parent Testimony

Corina Pfeil, middle, testifies
Northshore parent Corina Pfeil, parent member from Inglemoor High PTSA 6.10.75,  spoke Wednesday in favor of HB1508; the bill that would start a Breakfast After the Bell program in high poverty schools across the state. She urged lawmakers to roll out this program to help hungry kids so they are prepared to learn and be successful in school.
This was Corina's first time testifying and she was a great advocate for our students. She volunteered several weeks ago to testify on this issue, and we took her up on that offer this week. If you'd like to represent WSPTA on legislation that is being considered by the legislature, please contact Marie Sullivan, WSPTA Legislative Consultant or Duncan Taylor, WSPTA Legislative Director.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

New Ed Funding Plan Released, Bills Pass Friday Cutoff

There is certainly no lack of education funding plans this year, as three Senate Democrats brought a little love to the topic on February 14, bringing the total of publicly available proposals to a total of four: Governor Inslee’s; Senate Republicans; House Democrats; and now the subgroup of Senate Democrats. House Republicans have signaled that they have their own separate education funding plan, but elements haven’t been shared formally with the public.

SB 5825 would make permanent a district’s current maintenance & operations (M&O) levy percentage on January 1, 2018, and allow school districts to assess a local enrichment levy of up to $1,000 per student for activities and salaries beyond basic education. To help property-poor districts, the legislation would double the amount of levy equalization (LEA) a district receives, and would put in place a minimum per student allocation of $11,500. In other words, if the allocation that included the new permanent levy, LEA, and a uniform enhancement for students in learning assistance programs (LAP), Transitional Bilingual Instruction Program (TBIP), Special Education and Highly Capable programs didn’t reach that threshold, the state would make up the difference.

“No district will get less funding than it is receiving in the current school year,” said Senate sponsor Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah. Mullet said an amendment he’s considering would include an inflationary factor for the $11,500 per student allocation.

Other elements of the proposal include a minimum salary of $45,000; new requirements for accounting and reporting; and a link to different bills that would seek a constitutional change to allow bonds to pass with a simple majority. The extra LEA would be funded through an expanded collection of internet sales taxes. Under current rules, only Internet businesses with a nexus (i.e., physical presence) to Washington state are required to collect and remit sales tax to the state.

In other news last week, Friday served as the deadline for bills to be passed out of respective policy committees. February 24 marks the next cutoff, for most bills that have a fiscal impact to the state to be passed out of their budget committee. Typically bills that are labeled “necessary to implement the budget” or NTIB, are exempt from the legislative-imposed deadlines. 

Status of Top Five Legislative Priorities - Update
1.       Social and Emotional Learning
·         SHB 1377 would require, at the beginning of the 2018-19 school year, school districts with more than 2,000 students to provide a minimum of six hours of professional collaboration time per year for school counselors, social workers and psychologists that focuses on recognizing signs of emotional and behavioral distress.
·         SHB 1518, among other features, would direct OSPI to convene a work group to build upon the SEL benchmarks developed in 2016, and establish a competitive grant program to increase the number of summer learning programs that combine academics and SEL.
·         HB 1621 was heard in the House Appropriations Committee last week. The bill would provide an enhancement in the prototypical funding formula for staff positions related to SEL, including family and community engagement, school nurses, social workers, psychologists, and guidance counselors.
2.      Amply Funding Basic Education
·         SHB 1843, the House Democrat education funding plan is in the queue for a floor vote.
·         SB 5825 is described above. Senator Mullet believes it will get a hearing in the Senate.
3.      Closing the Opportunity Gap
·         HB 1511 would make changes to the Learning Assistance Program, including increasing the hours; removing the requirement to focus LAP on 3rd grade literacy; and add funding to schools with high concentrations of ELL, homeless and foster youth student populations.
·         HB 2075 and SB 5758 would provide a minimum of $400 per student for one of four activities: 1. CTE in middle or high school; 2. Enhanced dual credit opportunities in high school; 3. Dropout prevention strategies; and 4. AVID strategies and classrooms. Both bills passed out of their respective education committees and were sent to the budget committees.
4.      Standards for Para-educators
·         SHB 1115 will be heard by House Appropriations February 20th.
·         SB 5070 had a public hearing in the Senate Ways & Means committee last week.
5.      Breakfast after the Bell
·         SSB 5696 was amended in the Senate education committee and passed to the Rules Committee. The amendments removed the mandate for high-poverty schools to provide breakfast after the bell, and instead require that if all children are given the opportunity to eat after the bell, that the time would count as instructional time.
·         SHB 1508 was modified slightly in House education and has been passed to the House Appropriations committee.

2017 WSPTA Supported Issues:
·         Improving Educational Outcomes for Foster Children
o   SHB 1511 (above)
o   SSB 5241 would require school districts to consolidate partial credits, unresolved or incomplete coursework, and provide other opportunities for credit accrual to eliminate barriers to foster youth and homeless student success. The bill is in the Senate Rules committee.
·         Engaging Families in Student Success
o   HB 1843 specifically increases to 1.085 the family engagement coordinator per prototypical elementary school.
o   SHB 1618 would specify the minimum duties and responsibilities for a family and community engagement coordinator, and would stipulate that state funding allocated to support family and community engagement coordinators must be used for that purpose. The bill is in House Rules.  
·         Post-Secondary/Higher Education Access and Affordability
o   SHB 1425 would establish the Washington Next Generation Educational Savings Account Pilot Program (like a 529 savings account). The bill also would require the Washington Student Achievement Council to administer the pilot program, and to deposit an initial grant of $25 and an incentive grant of $50 when the account beneficiary achieved certain milestones.
o   HB 1452 would create a new scholarship opportunity for students pursuing professional technical degrees or professional technical certificates at community colleges. The companion is SB 5361.
o   SHB 1512 would expand a student’s eligibility to the 7th and 8th grade, and the 9th and 10th grade if they were previously ineligible, and expand income eligibility for the College Bound Scholarship award to 125 percent of the state’s median family income. The bill also would provide students with family incomes between 65 percent and 125 percent of median family income a scholarship equal to tuition and fees for two years at a community and technical college.
o   SHB 1840 would create the Washington Promise Program, which would provide free tuition and fees to students who meet certain eligibility requirements to attend a community and technical college. The bill would use a four-step phase-in approach, and would set up a free 13th year.
o   HB 1847 would set a goal of increasing the state’s share of support to 50 percent for four-year institutions.
§  All the higher education bills have been sent to their respective budget committees.
·         Removing Barriers to Implementing ECEAP
o   SHB 1518 would direct the Department of Early Learning to fund up to 600 slots to school districts to offer a summer-only ECEAP program for children entering kindergarten the upcoming year.  
o   SHB 1777 would create a new loan and grant program for preschool facilities. The bill was heard in the House Capital Budget committee last week and is scheduled for a vote this week. It’s Senate companion, SB 5753, had a hearing in Senate Ways & Means last week.
o   SB 5484 would create an Early Learning Facilities grant and loan program. The bill differs from the preschool facilities bills listed above, but there is an effort to combine them into one bill.
·         Restorative Justice and School Safety
o   SSB 5155 would prohibit suspensions and expulsions of students in grades K-2 to no longer than the remainder of the day and one full day.

Week in Review
Speaking on behalf of WSPTA, parent Sarah Butcher testified in favor of HB 1518 and HB 1618 in the House Education Committee. Also representing WSPTA, parent Heather Lindberg testified in favor of the proposed substitute for SB 5696 (breakfast after the bell). WSPTA signed in a support on SB 5070 (para-educators), HB 1621 (social emotional learning staff support), and HB 1564 (pesticide use).  

Bills related to a constitutional amendment to change to a simple majority for bond measures failed to pass out of their respective policy committees this week. While nothing is ever dead until the session ends, it is unlikely these bills will move forward this session.

The Week Ahead
Monday, February 20
Appropriations (House) - HHR A, JLOB - 2/20 @ 1:30pm
·         SHB 1115 - Public Hearing - Concerning para-educators.
·         HB 1282 - Public Hearing - Concerning career and technical education funding.

Ways & Means (Senate) - SHR 4, JACB - 2/20 @ 1:30pm
·         SB 5183 - Public Hearing - Concerning career and technical education funding.

Tuesday, February 21
Appropriations (House) - HHR A, JLOB - 2/21 @ 1:30pm
·         SHB 1115 - Exec Session - Concerning para-educators.
·         SHB 1046 - Exec Session - Concerning certificates of academic and individual achievement.

Wednesday, February 22
Capital Budget (House) - HHR B, JLOB - 2/22 @ 8:00am
·         SHB 1777 - Exec Session - Concerning the financing of early learning facilities.

Appropriations (House) - HHR A, JLOB - 2/22 @ 1:30pm
·         HB 1452 - Public Hearing - Concerning the opportunity scholarship program.
·         HB 1508 - Public Hearing - Promoting student health and readiness through meal and nutrition programs.
·         HB 1116 - Exec Session - Implementing family and medical leave insurance.

Prepared by 
Marie Sullivan
WSPTA Legislative Consultant