LEGISLATIVE ROLL CALL
Session Week #12
A summary of the bills impacting schools, students, and families this week.
We’ve entered the final month, but the pace of session has not slowed down. We spent the end of last week analyzing the two proposed budgets in the House and Senate, and I’m excited to report that the House version includes funding allocated to expand OSPI’s Ninth Grade Success pilots. Stand Executive Director Kia C. Franklin testified in both the Senate Ways & Means and House Appropriations committees’ marathon public hearings to the success of OSPI’s pilots, especially during building closures, and the reasons for expansion. You can watch her 1-minute testimony from the House here, starting at 2:04:30:
Earlier this week, the Seattle Times also published an editorial asking legislators to prioritize Ninth Grade Success programs as a low cost, effective way to support students:
“… the program trained “success teams” of teachers, administrators, counselors and support staff who could identify and support 9th graders in danger of falling behind. Early data show that most pilot schools saw double-digit increases in the percentage of students on track for graduation. An $8 million commitment over the next biennium would expand this program to 80 additional high schools, advocates say.”
You can add your voice to the chorus by sending an email right now to your legislators letting them know that you support expanding Ninth Grade Success to 80 more high schools in Washington.
We’ve had time to digest what’s in both the Senate and House proposed budgets, and are grateful that both versions include additional funding for school counselors. The Senate version would restore $32.8 million originally allocated in last year’s budget but vetoed in response to the pandemic; that funding would target high poverty elementary schools. The House proposes more expansive support: $52.5 million for additional counselors at elementary, middle and high schools.
I also just learned news hot off the press - SB 5030, legislation we've been fighting for to ensure students have access to high-quality counseling services, has been added to the calendar for a vote in the House very soon. Join us to make the final push and ask your Representatives to vote YES on providing critical counseling services now.
There’s also large allocations of federal stimulus funds for special education in both budgets ($48.7 million in the House and $53 million in the Senate), and each would also provide $21 million in post high school transition services. We were alarmed, however, to see that the Senate version removes the ongoing funding for dual credit equity (around $10 million per biennium), which would take away subsidies for exam and course fees as well as grant programs aimed at reducing barriers to dual credit courses. This funding is preserved in the proposed House budget. As of today, the Senate version, ESSB 5092, has passed off the floor while the House’s budget (SHB 1094) is still in Rules.
Today is another milestone in the calendar: the last day for bills to be voted out of fiscal committees for the second half of session. Stand testified in House Appropriations on Wednesday to voice our continued support for ESSB 5044, which would improve Washington’s existing cultural competency standards by equipping teachers, school staff, and school board members with the training to understand and address institutional racism when it shows up in our schools. We were excited to see it pass out of committee yesterday and are watching closely to see when it will get a floor vote.
If you’d like to hear more about the state budget process and ask questions about the new federal stimulus money headed to districts, please join me at next week’s special edition of Take Action Tuesday where I’ll be talking through more details about our 'Road to Recovery'.
Until then, have a great weekend!