Modified ESP staffing bill moves forward; ESP pay bills stall
To give school support staff adequate pay, respect, and funding, we need to continue to raise our voices together. With the February 5 fiscal committee cutoff deadline resulting in several bills stalling, it’s even more clear this is a multi-year fight. More than 500 WEA members called for the pay and staffing bills to have hearings and votes before the deadline. No bills on ESP pay made it before the cutoff deadline, but we won a hearing and vote for the staffing bills.
The good news is both staffing bills, HB 1960 and SB 5882, were voted out of Appropriations and Ways & Means on time. The tough news is that both were amended by the committee to significantly pare back the impact. The bills now only take a first step at implementing the recommended staffing levels from Initiative 1351. Final steps to bring state funded staffing to recommended levels would have to come in future budgets if these pared down versions are adopted in their current form.
This is a step in the right direction and it shows we have the power to improve ESP staffing and pay. It’s also a rallying cry that shows we need to plan for an even bigger push in the next legislative session to make sure both ESPs and our students get what we need.
We’re going to keep on advocating for ESP staffing and pay in Olympia and across the state and we’ll keep you posted with what you can do to continue to build the strength of this movement.