Session Overview & AESD Network Legislative Priorities

The 2020 session begins today, January 13, and there are just 60 days to get AESD legislative priorities across the finish line.  An impressive AESD Network team effort over the last year puts us in a good position for success this session. We face some competition for limited state budget resources but ESD superintendents, fiscal officers, assistant superintendents, and our executive director put in a lot of hard work to put us in the best possible position to achieve AESD priorities this year. Please note the AESD has a new Web page (https://www.waesd.org/legislative/) where you can find information on AESD legislative priorities, session resources, and our weekly updates.

Here are updates on each of the three priorities as we start the session:

Student & School Safety

Our school safety legislative champion, Rep. Laurie Dolan worked all year to convince other members of the legislature to support the additional funding needed to fully fund the policy passed in HB 1216. In meeting with legislators over the interim it appears she is gaining support. Our challenge is the limited amount of general fund revenue available needed for this type of request. We will continue to communicate the need over the next 60 days.

Early Learning

Senator Wilson has included the request for early learning (pk – grade 3) coordinators in her draft early learning bill. We should see the bill introduced sometime the first few days of session. While we have lots of good support for the coordinators, we have work to do to secure the funding in the budget. Our pre-session discussion with legislators were positive, but budget writers caution there will not be much new spending this session. Thank you to the assistant superintendents who helped put together the policy request and connect the AESD to other organizations supportive of the request.

Foundational Funding Forumla Support

Over the interim, the ESD fiscal officers pulled together ESD funding data and answered a number of questions from legislative/Office of Financial Management staff regarding shifts in funding formulas necessary to assure continuity of staffing levels for key ESD programs. We saw the evidence of their hard work when the Governor’s budget came out and several of the ESD funding formulas were changed to “state funding staffing units” which means the positions (School Nurse Corps, school safety, K-20 network) will grow as the legislature provides adjustments in salary in benefits. The next step is to make sure these changes are included in the final budget delivered to Governor Inslee in March.

General Legislative Happenings

The Seattle Times outlined the issues on legislators’ minds this session: homelessness, gun safety, climate change, taxes, and transportation. What is missing from the list? Funding and policy improvements for schools. “After much of last decade’s work consumed by overhauling and funding Washington’s K-12 school system, lawmakers this year are virtually certain to ignore a new $5.6 billion proposal recommended by a state work group to hire more nurses, school psychologists and other types of nonteaching staff,” says Associated Press reporter, Joe O’Sullivan. Confirming the Seattle Times analysis, in the annual AP Legislative Preview, there was only one brief mention of an education issue by Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig who said there is still more work to be done to fund special education. We face an uphill battle this session in asking lawmakers to keep making improvements to our schools. That said, we will continue to keep the pressing issues facing schools in front of the Legislature. In individual meetings with lawmakers there seems to be a common consensus that the 2021 budget year (2021 Legislative Session) will be the time to tackle needed changes to regionalization, salary schedule, special education and other pressing education needs.

Education Hearings this Week (as of Sunday, 1/12/20)

Monday, 1/13:

Education (House), 1:30pm

  • HB 1076 – Public Hearing – Modifying certain common school provisions.
  • HB 1120 – Public Hearing – Updating the term essential academic learning requirements to state learning standards to reflect current terminology.
  • E2SHB 1660 – Public Hearing – Concerning the participation of students who are low income in extracurricular activities.
  • HB 1833 – Public Hearing – Concerning school volunteers.

Tuesday, 1/14:

Education (House), 3:30pm

  • HB 1164 – Public Hearing – Concerning dual credit programs.

Wednesday, 1/15:

Early Learning & K-12 Education (Senate), 1:30pm

  • SB 5834 – Public Hearing – Concerning the immigration status of students.
  • SB 6101 – Public Hearing – Concerning statewide implementation of early screening for dyslexia. **
  • SB 6102 – Public Hearing – Adjusting stop signal requirements for school buses.
  • SB 6103 – Public Hearing – Concerning educational reporting requirements.
  • SB 6124 – Public Hearing – Establishing a statewide environmental sustainability education program. **
  • SB 6191 – Public Hearing – Assessing the prevalence of adverse childhood experiences in middle and high school students to inform decision-making and improve services.

Ways & Means (Senate), 3:30pm

  • SB 6165 – Public Hearing – Providing a benefit increase to certain retirees of the public employees’ retirement system plan 1 and the teachers’ retirement system plan 1.

Friday, 1/17:

Early Learning & K-12 Education (Senate), 8:00am

  • SB 6047 – Public Hearing – Prohibiting retaliation against school district employees that report noncompliance with individualized education programs. SB 6066 – Public Hearing – Expanding ethnic studies materials and resources for public school students in grades kindergarten through six.
  • SB 6067 – Public Hearing – Concerning educator certification assessments.
  • SB 6073 – Public Hearing – Providing menstrual hygiene products in public school bathrooms.
  • SB 6157 – Public Hearing – Requiring schools to stock bleeding control kits.

**Bills of interest to AESD