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

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