Establish and Adopt Legislative Priorities

After reviewing input from directors on legislative priorities Board Legislative Representative, Steve Madsen, and Superintendent Green have compiled and herewith propose for consideration the following 12 Legislative priorities.   The priorities are presented in rough order of priority:

  1. Academic Rigor and Equity in Public Education,

WSSDA shall initiate and/or support legislation and funding for innovative and equitable solutions to provide additional opportunities to access rigorous coursework to prepare students for careers and college, including but not limited to transition classes, work-based learning, equivalency courses of study, and competency-based crediting.

 

  1. Full Funding of Basic Education

WSSDA shall initiate and/or support legislation that fully funds and implements all aspects of Washington’s redefined program of Basic Education as outlined in E2SSB 6362 (Chapter 266, Laws of 2018), EHB 2242 (Chapter 13, Laws of 2017), and ESHB 2261 (Chapter 548, Laws of 2009).

 

  1. Mitigate Regionalization Education Funding Formula Inequities

WSSDA shall initiate and/or support legislation that establishes a state-level process for regular review of and recommendations regarding statewide salary allocation methodologies. This includes, but may not be limited to, review of regionalization, hold harmless, and other

 

42 adjustment factors. Among these are annual cost-of-living adjustments and overall impacts on school districts to ensure the state basic education educator compensation levels are equitable and competitive in order to recruit and retain qualified educators statewide. This shall be a transparent process using research-based data for making recommendations for changes.

 

  1. Fully-Funded Staffing Levels

WSSDA shall initiate and/or support legislation that provides for the full funding of appropriate staff levels for the following necessary functions:

  • Principals, library/media, guidance counselors, communications
  • Teaching assistants, office support, custodians, student safety, family involvement
  • Technology, facilities/maintenance/grounds, warehouse/laborer/mechanic
  • Mentors and instructional coaches

 

  1. Special Education and Special Needs Students

WSSDA shall initiate and/or support legislation which requires full funding for special education programs and services. Such programs and services should maximize assistance to children rather than to their various categorizations and assessments. Any state funding formula shall:

  • Recognize that costs will vary according to the needs of every child and, therefore, for every district, based upon the IEP of each student.
  • Provide adequate funding for all of the required services for eligible special education students without imposing an artificial cap.
  • Exclude students for whom districts do not receive an annual basic education allocation from any special education program enrollment funding caps.
  • Recognize that any funding formula based upon the assumption that every district has the same budget percentage costs for special education is inherently flawed and will not work.

 

  1. Funding Behavioral Support Services and Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) for Students,

WSSDA shall initiate and/or support legislation and ample funding for SocialEmotional Learning (SEL) and behavioral support services for P-12 based on individual student needs and aligned with national model standards and recommendations. The state will help every school build capacity for wrap-around services by enhancing the prototypical school funding formula for support service staffing (including but not limited to school nurses, social workers, counselors, and psychologists). Districts will have the flexibility to increase support personnel through local funding and grants.

 

  1. Expanding Access to and Funding for All Dual Credit Options

WSSDA shall initiate and/or support legislation that provides a stable and equitable funding system for students’ costs (i.e., tuition, books, fees, and transportation) associated with Washington’s dual credit options. Funding should apply, but not be limited to, classes taken through the AP/IB/Cambridge systems, Running Start, Tech Prep, College in the High School, online college coursework, and/or participating classes at Skill Centers.

 

  1. Early Childhood Education / Kindergarten Preparedness

WSSDA shall initiate and/or support legislation which would provide funding for public early childhood education including kindergarten preparedness and assistance programs, especially for children in poverty or for whom English is not their primary language.

 

  1. School Construction

WSSDA shall initiate and/or support legislation which supports improved state funding for school construction that achieves existing state policy codified in RCW 28A.525.166. That state law specifies that, on average, state funds will provide half the cost of school construction. To achieve this level of funding the legislature must:

  • Maintain a reliable system of funding that supports adequate planning at the local level.
  • Develop a new school construction funding formula that includes property acquisition and design costs, uses the national average for the square footage required for modern schools, and the true market cost per square foot to construct and renew schools that will remain safe, healthy, support high-quality teaching and learning, and optimize the lifecycle cost of the facility.
  • Ensure that the school construction funding formula allows for construction funding to all school districts based upon need, providing for a minimum of 20% of construction costs to all school districts
  • Fund construction costs resulting from new legislation and changes in class size or graduation requirements at an enhanced level to enable districts to quickly meet the new requirements.
  • Review and reduce regulations regarding construction and siting of school facilities that do not contribute to student learning; health and safety; and the affordability of siting, constructing, and maintaining school facilities.
  • Remove the 30-year moratorium on School Construction funds for a building that was modernized and received prior SCAP funding, if the need is to accommodate growth and add more space for unhoused students.

 

  1. Levy Authority and Local Effort Assistance

WSSDA shall initiate and/or support legislation that eliminates inequities and the differential access of school districts across the state to access levy and levy equalization (Local Effort Assistance, LEA) resources resulting from EHB 2242 (2017) by:

  • Maintaining the ability for school districts to access local, voter-approved levy funding and, revising how levy authority is calculated to be based on a designated percentage of each school district’s budget, and reinstating and fully funding LEA as originally conceived in 1989 (50 percent levy equalization as a “floor” for equalization funding) with the goal of equalizing 100 percent of the total amount levied.

 

However, if the current policy in EHB 2242 is maintained, levy and LEA policy needs to be adjusted by:

  • Raising the amount of maximum levy funding available to districts from $1.50/1,000AV to $2.00/1000AV, or $2,500 per student, whichever is greater;
  • Increasing the LEA from $1,500 per-pupil to at least $2,500 per-pupil to provide equity in per pupil levy amounts across the districts; and
  • Aligning the growth factors used to calculate levy and LEA annually to assure greater stability and reliability.

All state levy and LEA policies must also minimize and fund time for compliance reporting, accounting, and auditing levy fund uses.

 

97. Education Effectiveness & Flexibility Act

WSSDA shall initiate and/or support legislation that requires an automatic review of the efficacy of new legislated demands placed on our K-12 system after the first 3 years of implementation. This would include an initial review of legislated demands implemented between 2008 – 2015 to bring us current with a review.

 

  1. K-8 World Language Instruction

WSSDA shall initiate and/or support legislation that promotes and funds innovative models and/or opportunities for world language instruction in kindergarten through eighth grades.