Education Policy Brief - Session Week 7

Current Events & News, High School Success, Legislation | 03/01/2019

Katie Gustainis
Marketing & Communications Director, Stand for Children Washington

Education Policymaking Brief #49

A summary for those closely following the education policy debate in Olympia.

March 1, 2019

The Horizon: Key Dates

  • TODAY, March 1: Fiscal Committee Cutoff
  • March 13: House-of-Origin Cutoff
  • April 3: Opposite House Policy Cutoff

Education Policy

The atmosphere in Olympia shifted this week as legislators departed from their policy committees to work out the fiscal matters of bills in the Senate Ways & Means and House Appropriations committees. Much of the action has taken place behind-the-scenes to decide which bills make it to the floor next week after the fiscal committee cut off today.

Notably, Senator Rolfes, chair of the Ways & Means Committee, issued a statement this week committing to significant increases in special education funding to the tune of $300 to $400 million. We’re excited that this amount is 3-4 times what we had initially expected after earlier conversations in Olympia, and is an important step toward closing funding gaps for students with disabilities.

Here's what else we’re tracking this week:

  • Graduation Requirements
    • SB 5548, OSPI’s multiple pathways to graduation bill, made it to the Senate Rules committee, and we expect to see a vote on it next week. This bill would provide students with a list of “pathways” requirements for high school graduation – including options such as passing a dual-credit exam, earning a CTE program certificate, or passing the Armed Services vocational aptitude battery – to replace the current law that students pass a federally required test to graduate.
    • HB 1599, a similar bill in the house, has moved into the House Rules committee, so we can expect to see at least some of the policy make it to the floor of either chamber.
  • School Funding
    • SB 5313 was heard in Ways & Means this week. This bill would cap levy funding at 20% of a district’s overall funding or $3,500 per student. We are concerned about the implications of this bill for funding equity and look forward to hearing more of the debate.
  • Special Education
    • SB 5091, which would provide more funding to the special education safety net, passed out of Ways & Means this week.
  • High School Success (equity in dual-credit access, Freshman Success programming, and school counseling)
    • SB 5343, Senator Mullet’s bill Facilitating High School Success, unanimously voted out of the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee last week. While SB 5343 was not heard in Ways & Means this week, there is ample support for both the Academic Acceleration and Freshman on Track policies and we have had positive conversations about avenues to ensure they move forward this legislative session.
    • SB 5315, the Governor’s bill to increase funding for school counselors, received a hearing in Ways & Means on Thursday.

Stand for Children is also to be part of a coalition of organizations committed to supporting the High School Success policies. Known as the High School Success Coalition, its members so far include Black Education Strategy Roundtable, College Success Foundation, Graduate Tacoma, Stand for Children Washington, Treehouse, and Washington Roundtable. You can learn more about the coalition at

Let us know if you have any questions about a specific bill or what we’re watching closely on the education policy docket. You can reach me at or 940-390-3039.

Key Numbers

  • 58 - days left in the regular 2019 session
  • $1500 – the median monthly cost of full-time infant care in King County

#WAedu Social Media Chatter


Education Funding: An explainer

How do Washington schools get funded, anyway? An education funding primer video to get you started:


What We’re Reading

State’s top budget writers promise ‘significant’ increases in special ed funding – King5

“Sen. Christine Rolfes (D-Bainbridge), chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, wrote in a statement to KING 5 that she plans on closing, for the first time in state history, the multi-million-dollar gap in special education funding, estimated by experts at the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to be between $308 million and $400 million per year.”

Encourage your lawmakers to support the High School Success bill – Lake Chelan Mirror

“High school principals are facing a changing environment that affects classes and teachers. Most importantly, there are things that affect kids that we are aware of, and other things that keep kids from succeeding that we miss. The High School Success bill tackles these dynamics head-on.”

Public schools in Washington would be required to teach sex education in all grades under bill approved by state Senate – Spokesman-Review

“School districts would be required to adopt comprehensive, medically accurate policies for sexual health education for all grades by the 2021 school year, according to the bill, which was sent to the House on a party-line vote.”

Parents are feeling the pinch of child care costs – Bellevue Reporter

“The cost of child care has been growing faster than the rate of inflation for the last 25 years in King County, and shows little sign of slowing as parents are stuck spending more of their paychecks on daycare service.

The Education Policymaking Brief is produced by Stand for Children Washington, a public education advocacy organization, and was established in 2017. If you’d like to review previous briefs, they are available here. 

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