Free K-12 school meals, Special Education funding move forward
Coming up this week
WEA members will be testifying Monday in Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education in favor of two bills on inclusive learning standards and inclusive curricula, SB 5441 and SB 5462. Sign in PRO for both bills, SB 5441 and SB 5462.
A bill around Special Education evaluation and access (HB 1305) is scheduled for hearing Monday in House Education and WEA members will be there testifying. We agree that timelines need to speed up but we can’t do that without additional staff and funding.
We have concerns about HB 1550, as do other educational organizations. Its hearing is Tuesday in House Education. It moves transitional Kindergarten to a grant program, which could have funding consequences, plus it changes licensing requirements for educators. We’ll be testifying with these and other concerns.
WEA educators will be there on Wednesday in Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education for the hearing on SB 5024 on parents’ rights. We support parents’ rights and their involvement in their childrens’ education, but parents already have access to much of what the bill addresses and in areas it’s prescriptive in a way that would increase educator workloads.
A student transportation funding bill (SB 5174) has a hearing Thursday in Senate Ways & Means and we’ll be there testifying in favor.
If you’re interested in testifying on these bills, please contact WEA Lobbyist Simone Boe.
WEA members who testified this week: Jodi Boe, Olympia EA, on hours calculations for SEBB benefits; Debby Chandler, Spokane EA, on workplace ergonomics; Stephanie Church, Northshore School District substitute, on hours calculations for SEBB benefits; Roni Cook, Mukilteo EA, on free school meals for all students; Julianna Dauble, Renton EA, on founding an infrastructure bank; Melissa DeMara, Orcas EA, on increasing school levy caps; Gavin Downing, Kent EA, on access to library and info technology access; Eryn Duffee, Edmonds EA, on access to library and info technology access; Peter Henry, Seattle EA, on hours calculations for SEBB benefits; Sandy Hunt, Highline EA, on policing in schools; Mary Lindsey, WEA Retired, on increasing Plan 1 benefits and on the Plan 1 COLA; Neva Luke, WEA Retired, on increasing Plan 1 retiree benefits; Bill Lyne, United Faculty of WA, on dual enrollment, financial transparency at universities, and increasing tenure-track faculty positions; Sue Nightengale, Bellevue College AHE, on adding tenure track positions; Lee Ann Prielipp, WEA Retired, on Plan 1 retiree benefit increases; Mike Ragan, WEA Retired, on public processes for benefits; Becky Seiler, Lake Washington School District substitute, on hours calculations for SEBB benefits; Gloria Smith, WEA Retired, on retiree Plan 1 COLA; Jonathan Ruiz Velasco, Highline EA, on increasing access to multi-lingual and tribal language education; Maribel Vilchez, North Thurston EA, on increasing access to multi-lingual and tribal language education
If you provided verbal or written testimony before the legislature, we’d like to do a shout-out about you! Please contact WEA Lobbyist Simone Boe.
As educators we know that early childhood education provides a key foundation for success in students’ futures. Lawmakers have noted the rise in transitional kindergarten programs in our schools and are interested in establishing guidelines for these emerging early learning opportunities in communities, but the current proposal has some pitfalls that could result in less, not more, access for our earliest learners. The proposal in the House has issues with funding, educator certification, and eligibility.
The bill moves TK to a grant program rather than part of the K-12 funding system, which could limit some districts’ ability to offer TK programs if the standard grant amount does not align with the regionalized cost models in K-12. It also restricts who can teach TK to those with Early Childhood Education credentials, severely limiting the available workforce. Finally, by prioritizing students with IEPs, the program could segregate students with disabilities from their general education peers rather than the inclusion models that schools are invested in delivering for grades K-12.
We will continue to work with lawmakers to find the best way to support early learners in TK programs.
Cementing partnerships on Higher Ed lobby day
Whether we’re administrators or educators, we all agree that our Community and Technical Colleges need more funding. That’s why WEA higher ed members gathered with leaders from our college administration and from the WA State Board of Community and Technical Colleges for a powerful lobby day on Thursday, meeting with twenty legislators and building new bridges between our organizations. We made a joint request of the legislature to better fund higher education pay and to support diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in our CTCs.
Tracking our priorities
- Improvements to the Special Education funding formula (SB 5311) passed Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education.
- Both bills to provide free school meals to all K-12 students are scheduled for executive session next week: SB 5339 in Senate Early Learning & K-12 Ed on Monday and HB 1238 in House Education on Thursday.
- The bill expanding multi-lingual and tribal language education (HB 1228) is scheduled for executive session in the House Education Committee on Thursday.
- A bill to increase districts’ per-student levy maximum (HB 1244) which could mean raising more badly-needed funds through levy votes is scheduled for executive session in House Appropriations on Thursday.
- The bills to create the Washington Future Fund (SB 5125 and HB 1094) both passed out of committee last week.
- A bill supporting school construction for small districts (SB 5126) passed Senate Early Learning and has now been referred to Ways & Means.
- The bills establishing minimum employment requirements for paraeducators (HB 1015) and reviewing reprimands for educators (HB 1113) passed House Ed last week.
- A bill ensuring universal screening for highly capable students (SB 5072) passed Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education.
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