Issue Team Chair: Catherine Ahl – cathahl [at] hotmail.com – (360) 697-7924
Issue Paper: Education (PDF)
Update for the Week of March 18, 2018
Next steps in the McCleary case – back to the Supreme Court ….
Since the 2018 Legislature completed funding salaries as ordered by the Supreme Court, will the Court now lift the contempt ruling, allow the fines collected to be spent on education, relinquish jurisdiction, and end the McCleary case? That’s probably what the State will argue in its brief required to be filed with the Court by April 9, 2018. The plaintiffs will file a response to the State’s brief within 20 days, and then the State has 10 days to file a response to plaintiffs. Upon reviewing both parties’ brief, the Court will determine what action to take. LWVWA is a member of NEWS (Network for Excellence in WA Schools) which is one of the plaintiffs. Stay tuned.
In another case of interest, the Supreme Court has tentatively scheduled oral argument in the charter school appeal for May 17, 2018. LWVWA is also a plaintiff in this case, partially about the constitutionality of charter schools.
Reporting on the bill “to fix McCleary funding, the supplemental budget, and the supplemental capital budget was in last week’s Legislative Newsletter.
Several bills regarding K-12 funding passed in the last days of the session.
A bill that should have passed in this time of concern about safety in our schools did not pass--SB 6620 was about improving security in schools and the safety of students and also addressed gun safety.
The Senate supplemental operating budget, ESSB 6032 passed the full Senate on February 23. The bill is more positive towards K-12 than the House budget and fully funds the K-12 salary increases in 2018-19 as required by the Supreme Court, creates a dedicated McCleary penalty account of $103.8 million (the fines that have been adding up since August 2015) as required by the Court, increases the special education funding, provides a regionalization and staff experience safety net, and reduces the state property tax in 2019.
ESSB 6095, the Senate supplemental capital budget, also passed on February 23. It provides $51.3 million for the school construction assistance program, $9 million for distressed schools, and $6 million for small rural district modernization grants.
E2SSB 6362, Modifying basic education provisions, will still be worked on as it moves through the House. It authorizes the early phase-in of educator salaries in school year 2018-19, one year earlier than planned, to comply with the most recent state Supreme Court order, increases special education funding, provides LAP flexibility, provides a small fix to salary regionalization and adds a salary safety net for school districts whose educators have higher-than-average experience. It does not address local levy issues addressed by many school districts
The Senate (SB 6032) is expected to release its supplemental budget plan on Monday, followed by the House (HB 2299) on Tuesday. The state revenue forecast released February 15 includes an additional $628 million for the 2017-19 biennium, and an even higher amount in the following biennium. This should allow the Legislature to comply with the Supreme Court’s order to provide $1 billion to finish fully funding education.
2SHB 1896, to provide professional training for Civics teachers and require that the semester of Civics be a stand-alone class, passed the House on February 9 and now needs to be heard in the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Committee. In the amendment adopted by Appropriations and passed in the House, under NEW SECTION. Sec. 2. (3) Neither school districts nor the state board of education may require students to obtain a passing grade on the course required by this section as a requirement for high school graduation. So, this means the only graduation requirement students don’t have to pass is Civics. They have to pass US History, Art, three Math classes, four English classes–every other course required for graduation–just not Civics. LWV has grave concerns about this.
Please contact your Senator if they are on the Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee (Wellman, Rolfes, Zeiger, Billig, Hamkins, Hunt, Mullet, Padden, Pederson, Rivers) and ask that they ensure that 2SHB 1896 be given a hearing in the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Committee.
Education funding fixes still being debated …
Both the Senate Ways & Means Committee (SSB 6362 and SB 6352) and the House Appropriations Committee (HB 2721 and HB 2717) heard education bills that would, among other things, modify the LAP (Learning Assistance Program) funding, increase state funding for special education, address regionalization pay, increase local levy flexibility, and address salary and class size issues. It is expected that combined substitute bills may be passed by each fiscal committee.
The Senate Ways and Means Committee also heard SB 6531, which would Increase state matching funds from 20% to 30% percent, phase-in an increase to the amount of square feet per student, phase-in an increase to the actual cost per square foot and provide a funding floor for small elementary schools so that small, rural non-high districts can participate in the state’s matching grant program.
On January 22, the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee held what the Chair called a “Post-implementation Audit of EHB 2242.” Four bills were heard with public testimony by school districts and educators pointing out problems and suggesting fixes. On January 25, the Committee voted out SSB 6362, that combined many of the features of the other bills.
Good News--Capital Budget passes!
On January 18 SSB 6090, the $4.2 billion Capital Budget that includes over $1 billion in school construction funds, passed the Senate 49-0 and the House 95-1. E2SHB 1080, the State General Obligation Bonds used to fund the Capital Budget, passed the Senate 47-2 and the House 94-2. This occurred after a contentious Water Compromise bill, ESSB 6091, passed the Senate 35-14 and the House 66-30.