Roll Call #11: Budget week

Legislation, Policy Brief | 03/26/2021

Virginia Barry
Policy & Government Affairs Manager, Stand for Children Washington

LEGISLATIVE ROLL CALL

Session Week #11

A summary of the bills impacting schools, students, and families this week.

Happy policy cut off day! We’re nearing the final stretches -- less than one month left before session wraps up at the (virtual) capitol. And in a long session like this one, it’s also at this point when things start to get interesting, as both the House and Senate release their proposed budgets for the 2021-2023 biennium. 

As I’m writing this, I’ve only seen the Senate budget, but am looking forward to the House budget writers releasing theirs this afternoon. The good news is that last week’s revenue forecast was much rosier than what we thought we’d receive earlier in the pandemic, so we likely won’t see the cuts that were predicted several months ago. A few highlights from the proposed Senate budget, which includes both state and federal funding for 2021-2023:

  • $33 million to increase the number of school counselors at high poverty elementary schools 
  • $218 million for instruction to help students accelerate in the academic areas where they need support 
  • $191 million to districts to stabilize their budgets and keep staffing levels if they’ve experienced enrollment decreases
  • $89 million for special education, which includes teacher training, safety net funding, and transition services

We’ll provide more details as we continue to dig into the nearly 1000 page bill and have a chance to see the House version later this afternoon. Next up are hearings in each chamber; then the legislature will spend the next month ironing out the details of the final biennial budget. As discussions continue, Stand will continue to advocate for funding that would expand a successful Ninth Grade Success strategies pilot program by OSPI. Our Executive Director Kia Franklin testified earlier today in the Senate Ways & Means committee to the success of this program and the need for expansion. 

We were also thrilled to see yet another letter to the editor published by The Columbian in support of the proposed Ninth Grade Success program. Allison Wallace is a history teacher the Evergreen School District is one of the partner schools for Stand's Center for High School Success, which supports schools in building Ninth Grade Success teams. She and her team recorded a short video describing their success and asking for the legislature’s support, which you can watch here:

If expanded, this cost-effective $8 million biennial grant program ($4M per year) will fund implementation and training costs for Ninth Grade Success Teams in eighty high schools. You can join the effort to ask your legislators to support educators like Allison by writing a letter here

EMAIL NOW

Even with all eyes on the proposed budgets, committees continued their work to wrap up hearings by today’s opposite house policy cut off. We were excited to see ESSB 5044 move out of the House Education committee earlier today. This bill would add equity, diversity, inclusion, and antiracism curricula into the existing cultural competency training that educators and school board members receive.

Thank you to everyone who emailed committee members last night - over 75 people took action to support the bill as it headed into today’s executive session! If you haven't read the story that our volunteer Erin Lipsker shared about why this bill is personally important to her, I encourage you to read her letter here where she describes what it was like to grow up as a young bi-racial woman in Spokane.

Until next week,

Virginia 

 

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