Stand Weekly Roll Call: Session Week #9

Current Events & News, High School Success, Legislation | 03/13/2020

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

Well, if you’re anything like me, you barely noticed that yesterday was Sine Die (the last day of the 2020 legislative session). It’s hard to pay attention to much other than the COVID-19 crisis, especially here in Washington State. If you haven't yet heard, Governor Inslee has just announced that all K-12 schools in Washington state will be closed until April 24. We are thinking of the over one million Washington students and their families affected by these closures, and in particular, those children who depend on their school for meals, safety, and caring adults. Our team will do our best to let you know about available resources for families.

Please take a look at OSPI’s COVID-19 resource page, which contains information about school closures, guidance for parents in both English and Spanish, and ongoing updates. For general information about COVID-19, please refer to the Washington State Department of HealthKing County has also posted recommendations in 11 languages; Pierce County has also created a resource for schools. Finally, the Child Mind Institute has provided guidance on talking to your kids about the coronavirus. We are thinking of you all. 

Over in Olympia, legislators continued their work to complete the 2020 legislative session, which culminated in the House and Senate passing their 2020 supplemental operating budget, adding over $2 billion dollars to the 2019-2021 budget passed last session. We were especially excited to see: 

  • $31.8 million dollars to increase counseling services in qualifying high poverty elementary schools. This funding will allow a prototypical elementary school to add the equivalent of an additional half-time school counselor, which will greatly reduce caseloads in these schools.
  • $1.9 million to increase special education safety net funding.
  • $150,000 for the Washington Student Achievement Council to convene a task force on reducing barriers to dual credit access. The task force will make recommendations to the legislature on mitigating the cost of courses and tests, student supports to close equity gaps, communication with students and families about dual credit offerings, and how to expand dual credit courses for CTE students.

Although the investments in education are not as comprehensive as we would see at the end of a budget session, the supplemental budget also allocates funding to increase EACAP rates by 5%, implement a mastery-based learning pilot program, provide additional local effort assistance to districts, and establish a small schools grant program for districts with less than 650 students. We’ll dive deeper into the budget during our Legislative Debrief call next Thursday at 12 pm PST and I’ll be following up with a full legislative summary shortly thereafter. We'll also spend some time on the call discussing the impacts of school closures on students, families, and districts statewide. You can register here to join Thursday’s call.

Until next week, be healthy and take care. 

Virginia

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