Friday, March 30, 2012

Breakthrough close on budget?

Gregoire pushes compromise; says it is an all-in-one proposal
EXCERPT: “Gregoire said there are six major issues still at play, including proposals to raise taxes. She declined to say what her package would look like but said negotiators have to get away from working through each issue one at a time.
… “Republican Sen. Michael Baumgartner said his colleagues still want to see the pension changes and other overhauls, but he said -the party was flexible and open to accepting other ideas as part of a larger compromise, including the possibility of higher taxes.”

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Delegates to vote on advocacy, bylaw changes

  • Arts education - updates language, scope
  • Sleep requirements aligned to school start times - new
  • Subsidizing staff salaries - revised proposal; first considered last year
  • Equitable education opportunities (contains references to innovation and charter schools) - new
  • List of current resolutions
Several resolutions and bylaw amendments will be considered at the Washington State PTA Convention May 4-6. Resolutions are longterm advocacy positions. Bylaws are the rules that govern the association.

All PTAs/PTSAs need to review these proposals. Be sure to familiarize yourselves with them and discuss them with your voting delegates so they know how to represent your PTA.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Great news for early learning

Big news for the early learning folks: new guidlines are available. Please note the guidelines are birth through third grade and reflect the state-level commitment for smooth transitions into the K-12 system. (See forwarded note, below, for more information.)

Also great news: Yesterday the governor signed a new WaKids bill into law that expands the program to all schools statewide. Funding comes from a federal grant.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Waiting for compromise

Various proposals

Leaders from the parties and respective chambers should be negotiating a supplemental budget. Last week the governor expressed frustration at lack of movement. Veto threat.
Senators released a new proposal last week that protected K-12 education funding -- "basic education" as well as enhancement programs that help struggling learners and that promote literacy, math and science, and educator development.
  • Early learning funding is maintained at present levels.
  • Cuts to the Office of the Education Ombudsman are trimmed to 5 percent, from 30 percent, and are no longer retroactive.

Feedback on charter school bill, SB 6202

WSPTA neither supports or opposes; is evaluating and cites concerns
NOTE: This bill was heard in January by the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee. A companion bill was heard by the House Education Committee. It did not move out of committee and was not discussed or voted on by either chamber, but it was funded in at least one budget proposal from the Senate.

Washington State PTA has qualified support for charter schools and is actively looking for ways to close our state's entrenched achievement gaps. The association is supportive of allowing charter public schools in Washington as a way to improve accountability and innovation – but only if the charter public schools support our principles and follow state law.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Budget: On to compromise talks

The Senate passed a budget around 1 a.m. last night, using a procedural move to consider a proposal that did not move out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and that did not get a public hearing.

If there had been a hearing, Washington State PTA would have expressed strong concerns about cuts to education programs that benefit disadvantaged youth, and cuts to programs that keep children safe.

In the new Senate budget, $18 million has been cut from Children and Family Services; $202 million from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families  and Working Connections Child Care; and $44 million from K-12 public education. In the version written by the Ways and Means chair, no cuts were made to education and children’s services were protected.  A key difference is the budget passed does not delay by one day a $330 million apportionment payment.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Budget slashes programs for kids

UPDATE: New Senate budget passed 25-24 at 12:47 a.m. 3/3/2012
From here, Senate and House will negotiate differences in respective operating budgets

This afternoon I had good news on the supplemental budget. Senators put kids first. No cuts to education – and better yet, they did this without further cuts into programs that keep kids healthy and safe. Ways and Means was set to vote on the budget Saturday.