Monday, February 6, 2017

Senate Republicans and Democrats Unveil Education Funding Plans

On January 27, Senate Republicans announced the release of their education plan, followed up with a bill late afternoon the following day. The plan would change the current prototypical school funding formula to a per pupil funding formula, and would raise funds through an additional state property tax of $1.80 on $1,000 assessed value. Local levies would be eliminated in calendar year 2019 and, starting January 1, 2020, districts could seek a 10% local levy that could not be spent on salaries or basic education. The so-called “levy swap” results in some areas with higher assessed property valuations paying more, while those with lower assessed values pay less.

Other elements of the Senate Republican plan include a minimum $45,000 salary; a cap on salary expenditures to 80 percent of a school district’s total budget; extension of the levy cliff through December 31, 2018; and per pupil enhancements for students in poverty, special education, who are homeless, and English Language Learners. SB 5607 was heard Monday the 30th, acted on and passed out of the Senate budget committee on party lines with a couple of amendments on the 31st, and passed off the Senate floor February 1st by a vote of 25-24. It will be heard Monday, February 6 at 3:30 p.m., in House Appropriations.  

Democrats also responded with bills, and HB 1863 also will be heard Monday, February 6 at 3:30 p.m.  The Democrats’ proposals mirror concepts unveiled January 4th at the Joint Education Funding Task Force Committee meeting. Their plan maintains the prototypical school funding formula and enhances funding for family engagement and guidance counselors, along with additional funding for the Learning Assistance Program, ELL students, and Highly Capable students. It maintains a high local levy, scaling it down by half a percent each year, over four years, starting in Calendar Year 2018 (from 28 percent to 24 percent); the levy cliff is avoided. The proposal also maintains levy equalization; the Senate Republican plan eliminates LEA.  

The Democrats’ plan includes a starting teacher salary of $45,500, with increases for the first three years to $50,500.  Salary allocations for other teachers, those with professional certificates, school administrators and classified staff also are increased, and professional development time is phased in over four years. As in the Senate Republican plan, the current salary allocation box that sets minimums for various years of service and education, is eliminated. No specific revenue package supports the Democrats’ proposal.  

Charts have been released by Senate Committee Services and the Senate Republicans, and a comparison of plans has been produced by non-partisan House Committee Services. In addition, OSPI is working on creating what are commonly called “pivot tables” to compare the various plans to current funding levels so that school districts, parents, and others will have a clear comparison of how the different plans fund education to meet the state’s constitutional obligation.
As a reminder, it isn’t all education funding plans. Policy committees have until February 17th to vote bills out of committee. Week 5 starts the countdown to this first crucial cutoff, with fewer work sessions and more public hearings and executive action.  Bills that fail to see action are considered “dead,” although elements of these bills or even full bills may suddenly be found on bills that are moving.

Status of Top Five Legislative Priorities - Update
1.       Social and Emotional Learning
·      HB 1377 – the bill that would improve collaboration for school support services staff had a public hearing this week.
·      HB 1518 – this bill would create social emotional learning for the entire year, a summer ECEAP program, and a Summer Step-Up program to deal with summer learning loss in grades K-12. The bill is scheduled for a public hearing Monday, February 13th at 1:30 p.m., in the House Education Committee.
2.      Amply Funding Basic Education
·      New bills include: SB 5607 (Senate Republican funding plan), HB 1843 (House Democrat funding plan), and SB 5623 (Senate Democrat funding plan). 
3.      Closing the Opportunity Gap
·      No new bills introduced
4.      Standards for Paraeducators
·      SB 5607, the Senate Republican education funding plan, was amended January 31st to include SB 5070, which creates certification and endorsement requirements for paraeducators.
5.      Breakfast after the Bell
·      SB 5696 would require schools with student eligibility of 70 percent for free and reduced price meals to offer a type of “breakfast after the bell” program, starting in the 2018-19 school year. The bill is different from HB 1508, in that the House Bill includes references to grants for implementation and has a lunch co-pay reduction program.
2017 WSPTA Supported Issues:
·         Improving Educational Outcomes for Foster Children
o   No new bills
·         Engaging Families in Student Success
o   HB 1843 specifically increases to 1.085 the family engagement coordinator per prototypical school.
·         Post-Secondary/Higher Education Access and Affordability
o   HB 1840 and SB 5666 were introduced last week. The companion bills create the Washington Promise Program, which would offer free college tuition and fees to the state’s Community and Technical Colleges in one-year and two-year increments, phased in over the next few years.
·         Removing Barriers to Implementing ECEAP
o   SB 5733 would create a summer ECEAP pilot program for up to 600 slots, and a summer Jump Start grant program. It is similar to HB 1518, but does not include the emphasis on SEL.
·         Restorative Justice and School Safety
o   No new bills

Week in Review
WSPTA signed in Pro on several bills that support our Top 5 priorities and supported positions. In addition, member Michael Steffen of Marvista Elementary School traveled to Olympia to testify in support of HB 1508, breakfast after the bell.

The Week Ahead
Monday, February 6
3:30 p.m., House Appropriations, HHR A
Public Hearing:
1.     HB 1843 - Fulfilling the state's paramount duty for all children through equitable and responsible investments in the state's basic education program and reductions to local effort contributions.
2.    SSB 5607 - Concerning education.

Tuesday, February 7
8 a.m., House Early Learning & Human Services, HHR C
Public Hearing: HB 1777 - Concerning the financing of early learning facilities.

8 a.m., House Higher Education, HHR D
Public Hearing:
1.    HB 1512 - Expanding college bound scholarship eligibility.
      HB 1651 - Supporting students' success by increasing retention and graduation rates with evidence-based programs.

3:30 p.m., House Capital Budget, HHR B
Public Hearing: HB 1694 - Providing state funding assistance for public school construction.

Wednesday, February 8
1:30 p.m., House Higher Education, HHR D
Public Hearing: HB 1840 - Establishing the Washington promise program.

Thursday, February 9
8 a.m., House Education, HHR A
Executive Session:
1.       HB 1115 - Concerning paraeducators.
2.      HB 1377 - Improving students' mental health by enhancing nonacademic professional services.
3.      HB 1508 - Promoting student health and readiness through meal and nutrition programs.

3:30 p.m., House Appropriations, HHR A
Possible Executive Session:  HB 1843 - Fulfilling the state's paramount duty for all children through equitable and responsible investments in the state's basic education program and reductions to local effort contributions.

Friday, February 10
10 a.m., House Higher Education, HHR D
Public Hearing: HB 1488 - Expanding higher education opportunities for certain students.

Prepared by

Marie Sullivan
WSPTA Legislative Consultant
Email Marie

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