Monday is day 85 of the 105 day legislative session. If the two chambers can come to agreement on details of the budget, adjournment is scheduled for April 28.
AESD Specific Bills
HB 1216 is waiting in the Ways and Means Committee for a vote of the full committee. We have until Tuesday to see the bill move forward. The House budget funds $281, 778 per each ESD (two sections of the budget at 1,268,000 + 1,617,000 funding minus 349,000 that goes to OSPI leaves $2,536,000 per ESD per year – $281,778 per ESD).
School Employees Benefits (SEB)
HB 2096 The Senate budget has language delaying ESDs mandatory participation in SEB but the House is expressing concerns about the legality of accomplishing this exemption through the budget bill. While we received good news through the Senate budget the House is now saying we may need to pass HB 2096 as a stand-alone policy to accomplish the delay. House leadership tells us the ESD provision could make the whole operating budget open for legal challenge and leave the budget vulnerable to a judge invalidating their work.
School District Territory Transfers
SB 5731: We testify in front of Chair Santo’s House Education Committee as “other” and express concerns. This bill allows a petitioner to request a hearing by the Regional Committee on School District Organization if a school district dismisses a proposed transfer of territory initiated by citizen petition. The House adopted this Santos Amendment which adds a mediator as a second step before going to the Regional Committee. The Santos amendment comes at the request of WSSDA.
Children’s Mental Health
SB 5576: Dead for the session. However, AESD submitted a budget proviso to budget writers and asked for the funding in the Operating Budget. We are asking the Ways and Means Chair to include funding in the budget for on-going professional development. Update: both House and Senate budgets include funding for this work. Budget writers will negotiate final proviso language and final budget amount.
Special Education Advocate
House bill removes ESD special education advocate but the Senate funds ESDs to contract out this advocacy work. The House budget does not include this language. Budget negotiators will make final decision. SB 5532 was originally drafted to include a provision that required ESDs to have a special education advocate. We submitted a letter of concerns and are asked for ESDs to be removed from the bill.
Career Connected Learning
SB 5327: No update since last week. Senator Wellman has expressed a preference to have the CCL coordinator placed at each ESD. WA STEM is advocating for a competitive grant process to determine where the work would be accomplished. If you look at the bill text please notice section four which now says: Educational Service Districts shall each employ one full-time employee to convene and manage regional, cross-industry networks that will lead to the expansion of career connected learning opportunities. This is all subject to appropriation. This policy comes at the request of Governor Inslee. If passed the policy: Creates a multi-agency work group to coordinate career connected learning (CCL) opportunities, collect data, provide recommendations, and perform other duties; Creates a competitive grant program to support regional networks and program intermediaries in expanding CCL opportunities; Requires school districts to be funded up to 1.2 full-time equivalents for students in certain CCL programs; Requires the institutions of higher education to have CCL coordinators to engage faculty and institutional leadership in expanding the number of certain CCL programs. Senate funds ESD coordinators for CCL.
SB 5088: No update since last week. Passed the House Education Committee and waiting for action of the full House. Authorizes school districts, beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, to award academic credit to students for computer science based on student completion of a competency examination. Requires a school district that operates a high school to, beginning no later than the 2022-2023 school year, provide an opportunity to access an elective computer science course that is available to all students.
Something to Watch
Amendment 45 in the Senate Operating Budget
This was not adopted but is policy being discussed should legislators not have enough revenue to fund needed programs. This amendment rejects the School Employees’ Benefits Board Collective Bargaining Agreement; however, it provides funding for K–12 health care benefits at the same per employee per month level as state employees. The resultant savings of $258 million in 2019–21 would redirect to school districts as flexible state funding for purposes including: lowering class sizes; hiring additional counselors, nurses, social workers, psychologists, or other support staff; offering summer or additional instructional support time for students; and replacing or freeing up current local levy expenditures, including special education.