Friday, June 7, 2013

House scales back K-12 increase

But tries to advance major components of 2009's ESHB 2261

In the news:


The House of Representatives passed a budget late Thursday night with scaled back investments in K-12 education. It then passed a bill that would end seven tax breaks (out of more than 600) and roll the revenue into K-12 and higher education, with a focus on job skills and career preparation.

Through the bills the House essentially said: This is how far we are willing to go at fully funding basic education with current revenue. We would like to put in more and propose ending tax breaks to do so.

The new proposed spending levels for K-12 are similar to what the Senate proposed during the general session, but the House more intentionally spreads it across key components of basic education funding reform. Those include increased access to full-day kindergarten and smaller K-3 class sizes, increased instructional time in middle and high school, increased allotments for counselors and family engagement coordinators, and increased allotments to transitional bilingual and learning assistance programs -- as well as investments in maintenance, supplies and operating costs, and student transportation. In contrast, the Senate put the bulk of increased funding into transportation and into maintenance, supplies and operating costs.

The new budget bill,  Substitute House Bill 1057:

Here are highlights of K-12 funding as the budget passed House Appropriations. The larger policy enhancements include $814 million for House Bill 2776 (Chapter 236, Laws of 2010) and House Bill 2261 (Chapter 548, Laws of 2009) as follows:
  • $434 million for increased materials, supplies, and operating costs;
  • $208 million to reduce early elementary class size (K-3);
  • $108 million to expand all-day kindergarten;
  • $89 million for pupil transportation; and
  • $24 million in savings from eliminating the SHB 2776 hold harmless;
  • $66 million for Learning Assistance Program expansion;
  • $20 million for teacher and principal evaluation;
  • $11 million for local effort assistance (also called "levy equalization");
  • $10 million for struggling schools

The larger K-12 policy savings include:
  • $320 million savings from suspending cost of living increases for teachers
  • $143 million savings from changing the district payment schedule;
  • $30 million savings from changes to the Alternative Learning Experience programs (dependent on another bill passing);
  • $21 million savings from assessment changes; and
  • $18 million savings from changes to career and technology education maintenance, supplies and operating costs.

Additional funding for K-12 and higher education

On Thursday, the House also passed ESHB 2034, An act relating to funding K-12 basic education and higher education by narrowing or eliminating tax preferences. About $108 million would flow into basic education. Including:

$24.1 million for increased instructional hours

Twenty additional hours of instruction are provided for grades 7 through 12. Going forward, schools must increase instructional time for students in each of grades 7 through 12, as follows:
  • 1,020 hours in 2014-15;
  • 1,040 hours in 2015-16;
  • 1,060 hours in 2016-17; and
  • 1,080 hours in 2017-18 and thereafter.

$13 million for transitional bilingual instruction
School districts must make a program of instructional support available for up to two years immediately after students exit the transitional bilingual program for those who need assistance in reaching grade-level performance in other academic subjects. The bill allocates $13 million to cover:
  • Increasing bilingual instructional hours for the prototypical middle school from 4.7780 to 5.1853.
  • Increasing bilingual instructional hours for the prototypical high school is from 4.7780 to 5.8520.
  • Providing for additional instructional hours totaling 1,000 hour per week for students transitioning out of the program.

$24.6 million for counseling support staff:
  • Prototypical middle and high school guidance counselor allocations are increased by 0.167 full-time equivalents.
  • Parent engagement coordinators in the elementary school are added, increasing the formula by 0.167 full-time equivalent equivalents.

$23.1 million for full-day kindergarten:
  • Allocations for full-day kindergarten are increased from 48 percent of the kindergarten full-time equivalent students to 53 percent.

Other additional funding:
  • $2.5 million is appropriated for Educational Service Districts to add staff for professional development related to English language arts curriculum and implementation of the Common Core State Standards.
  • $2.1 million is appropriated for implementation of Second Substitute House Bill 1642

Back to Senate:

The Senate convened briefly Friday afternoon, but kept to point of privilege comments. There was no action taken on various policy ideas rumored to be in play, including support for reading, mutual consent in staffing placement, and grading of schools in the state's accountability index.

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