• AWSP News for September 19, 2018

    by David Morrill | Sep 18, 2018

    Check out our latest AWSP News, where we discuss:

    • post-strike and post-bargaining focus on culture,
    • the closing gap between teacher and principal pay and what we’re doing about it,
    • including our recent survey,
    • participating with us and our #AskAWSP segment,
    • Robert Hand, our new state Teacher of the Year,
    • nominating a great colleague for Principal or Assistant Principal of the Year,
    • Senator Wellman, our 2018 Torch of Leadership winner,
    • great resources for you to communicate with parents on the GearUp website,
    • taking the lead on learning in your building,
    • and using student voice to keep students engaged and motivated.

    Prefer to read the news? Check out our script.

  • Strikes, Pay, and Workload: We're Here for You

    by Macy Bruhy | Sep 11, 2018


    We know many of you are in unchartered territory. The start of the school year always brings excitement and stress, but the changes the Legislature made to the way we fund schools have also brought confusion, chaos, anger, frustration, and uncertainty. It's not been a good summer for bargaining, and we know many of you across the state are still dealing with the anxiety and challenges created by a work stoppage, or the very real threat of one. We've heard from a lot of you about your unique situation. We wanted to send this email to provide some updates on bargaining and budgeting, as well as share some of the ways we are working to support you.

    Here is what we know:


    • The 3.1% cap on administrator salaries is only a one-year cap.
    • The 3.1% salary limitation was intended for all positions and was not clearly articulated for classified and instructional staff positions in statutory language.
    • Your principal contract agreements should be limited to the 2018-19 year. This lets you respond next year to the salary increases teachers are getting this year, as well as any modifications the Legislature might make this coming session.
    • The Legislators we've talked to have told us that the narrowing gap between principal and teacher salaries is an unintended consequence of contract negotiations.
    Here is what we've been doing:
    • Helping principals navigate teacher strikes throughout the state.
    • Helping principals reset their school culture following difficult negotiations.
    • Combining the best elements of model principal contracts to help prepare principals for negotiations next year.
    • Engaging stakeholders in the discussion around narrowing the gap between principal and teacher salaries (this includes legislators, OSPI and other education advocates).
    • Creating resources to advocate for the importance of supporting principal leadership.
    Here is how you can help us continue to advocate:
    • If you are a principal or assistant principal complete this short survey to provide us with data, information, and anecdotes on the narrowing pay gap, your workload, and your stress level. We'll use this data to fight for principals across the state.
    • Contact your legislators and your situations - tell your unique stories.
    • Contact us for help with strike preparation, recovery, or additional resources.
    We know great things are happening in our schools each day thanks to your leadership. Make sure you practice self-care during these challenging times and take pride in knowing your work matters to all students.


  • AWSP News for September 5, 2018

    by David Morrill | Sep 05, 2018

    In this episode of AWSP News, we discuss:

    • teacher strikes across the state,
    • the shrinking gap between principal and teacher pay,
    • some great ideas for starting the year off right,
    • our interview with Washington comedian and actor Joel McHale,
    • some safety and vaping resources from OSPI,
    • another OSPI budget survey,
    • your goals for the year,
    • our goals for the year and two new staff to support the east side of the state,
    • our new #AskAWSP segment, and
    • a great quote about principal leadership from former Governor Christine Gregoire.

    Prefer to read the script? Read it here.

  • Ten Non-Standard Ideas About Going Back to School

    by David Morrill | Aug 27, 2018

    Back to school image

    I stumbled across this blog post from Nancy Flanagan on EdWeek's blog on non-standard ideas for teachers about going back to school. I liked it, so I thought I would share.

  • Don't Let New Discipline Rules Get You In Trouble

    by David Morrill | Aug 24, 2018
    Student with paper airplane

    I’m in trouble...I’m not in trouble...am I in trouble? Confused? After two years of writing and revising, OSPI finally adopted new state rules (WACs) for student discipline. The rules describe how school administrators discipline students, communicate with parents, and provide guidance and due process expectations for suspended or expelled students. 

    It’s going to take time to wade through everything. You might have to change processes. New rules might require board approval. You’ll definitely want to communicate the changes with students, staff, parents, and community. Staff will need training. 

    All that’s to say, you have a lot of work on your plate. OSPI will phase the rules in over a two-year period, starting in the 2018-19 school year with classroom exclusions, absences and tardiness, the right to educational services, and student re-engagement plans. The following year, new rules kick in for parent notification requirements, appeal and grievance procedures, and new conditions and limitations will be required. 

    We’ll put out our own resources for handling the student discipline rules in the coming weeks. Fortunately, OSPI has a bunch of resources ready now. OSPI really wants districts, buildings, and classrooms to have the resources and supports they need with a holistic student discipline view, including classroom management, mental health, and restorative justice. 

    For the time being, here’s a to-do list you might find helpful:

    • Read sections of the WAC related to the changes that go into effect this school year and compare the information with your student handbook.

    • Familiarize yourself with the rules defining misconduct and the distribution of these rules in WAC 392-400-225.

    • This WAC lists the ways in which you are required to inform parents/guardians, students, and other stakeholders regarding your discipline rules. It also speaks to disaggregated data collection.

    • Read the Discipline in Schools: A Parent Guide, along with the quick introduction guide. They're both great to use with your staff.

    • Share the updated information regarding the rules with your staff. In some cases, not all, the newly adopted rules will require a change in how student discipline has been applied in your school.

    • View the technical guide

    • Read the corrected version of the final rules’ Concise Explanatory Statement.

    You can find these resources and other information regarding the final discipline rules on OSPI’s New Student Discipline Rules webpage. As always, AWSP is here to help. After reviewing the information, please call our office at 1-800-562-6100 if you have any questions.

  • What the Heck is Juuling?

    by David Morrill | Jul 27, 2018

    I've heard of vaping, but "juuling" is new to me. If you're now sure what "juuling" is, it's basically a form of vaping often difficult to detect. We've heard from principals about the many challenges vaping presents in schools, one of the main ones being, you have no clue what's being vaporized and ingested.

    To get you up-to-speed, watch the embedded video from PBS News Hour and read EdWeek's article, Juuling and Teenagers: 3 Things Principals and Teachers Need to Know
  • TVW Interviews Our Middle Level Principal of the Year with Mandy Manning

    by David Morrill | Jun 29, 2018

    For the third year in a row, TVW's Inside Olympia interviewed Washington's Teacher of the Year and one of our Principals of the Year. This year, the teacher also happened to be the National Teacher of the Year, Mandy Manning. Our Middle Level Principal of the Year, Marc Gallaway, represented principals.

    Marc and Mandy sat down with host Austin Jenkins to discuss what's happening in the halls and classrooms of Washington's public schools? The hour-long interview includes great conversation between the three. Be sure to watch the video, but even if you don't have time, take a minute to share the link on your social media – it's a great way to showcase the great things happening in public education. 

  • Dear Principals: A Letter From the Washington Library Association

    by David Morrill | Jun 21, 2018

    Dear Principals,

    This year’s Basic Education Funding Bill has given your school an unprecedented opportunity to update a significant capital resource: your library.  Substitute Senate Bill 6362designated for library materials in the Basic Education Funding bill created a $20/FTE line item for libraries.  

    The Washington Library Association (WLA)  encourages you to advocate for this funding with your district and collaborate with your Teacher-Librarian to develop a plan for using these funds. This bill allocated MSOC funding for library materials as separate and unique from “Other Supplies.”  WLA asked legislators for this change in response to the need to develop culturally responsive materials and to equitably fund library programs in every school for every child.

    Here is a screen shot from page 6 of SB 6362 that shows clearly the legislative intent of this funding change:

     6362 Session Law Text

    Although we understand the $20 per FTE is not a mandate, it does show a clear legislative intent for school districts to ensure all students have access to quality library materials including books, online resources, computer science tools, makerspaces and materials that support adopted curriculum and initiatives.

    In the 2015 Washington State Study of Library Information Technology WSSLIT study coordinated by OSPI and WLA, (http://bit.do/WSSLIT15) and in similar studies conducted  across the nation, there is a strong correlation between support for school library staffing, instruction and materials, and student success (http://bit.do/library-impact-studies). Schools with strong library programs show  higher student scores on statewide assessments, particularly in reading, and higher five year graduation rates.  Schools with strong library programs also have more equitable access to technology and research resources for students – something that is very important to ensuring ALL students have access to these tools and instruction on how to use them.

    In the past decade, Washington State legislators have shown strong support for school libraries as evidenced by the inclusion of teacher-librarians in the prototype school staffing allocation (RCW 28A.300.173), inclusion of information technology literacy in the state’s core basic education goals (RCW 28A.150.210(3)), passage of SB 5294.  In 2015 (RCW 28A.320.240) changed the definition of a school library programs to school library information technology programs. Please note line item (e) which states:

    (e) Create a culture of reading in the school community by developing a diverse, student-focused collection of materials that ensures all students can find something of quality to read and by facilitating school-wide reading initiatives along with providing individual support and guidance for students.

    WLA urges you to work with your school librarian and library staff to ensure efficient and adequate planning for MSOC allocation dollars to be spent in the library. Our hope is that when the 2019 MSOC reports go to the school boards, districts will see clearly outlined how these dollars are improving student success. 

    Equitable library funding allocation in SB 6362 will go a great distance to ensure that students have up-to-date and culturally responsive materials for independent reading. It also gives you an opportunity  to strengthen support for building-specific goals through targeted library collection development. 

    Beginning Sept 2018, the $20/FTE allocations are coming to your district with library-specific spending recommendation. It is up to education leadership to ensure that legislative intent is met for the benefit of all students…through strong, smart school library budgets.  We urge you to advocate for your students and stand ready in support of strong school libraries for every student in Washington’s public schools.


    Washington Library Association 

    WLA signatures

  • AWSP News for June 21, 2018

    by David Morrill | Jun 21, 2018

    Welcome to our last AWSP News for the 2017–18 school year, where we discuss:

    • feedback for the AWSP Leadership Framework rubric language,
    • examining your cultural competence and racial identity to become the best leader you can be,
    • updates from OSPI,
    • the State Board of Education,
    • bills from this last session,
    • mental health first responders,
    • more high five goodness,
    • updating your info with us, and
    • Scott says thanks.

    Prefer to read the news? Read the script.

  • Border Separation Policy Statements

    by David Morrill | Jun 20, 2018

    Our mission is to support principals and the principalship in the education of all students. Part of supporting the education of all students is our core responsibility as educators to fearlessly shield children from traumatic events, ensure their safety and advocate for the health and well-being of all children, particularly those most vulnerable. 

    The statements below from the national associations were all issued before President Trump signed an executive order ending the forcible separation. Here's a good explainer from CNN on what the order actually does from CNN. 

    NASSP Statement: Principals Condemn Border Policy That Forcibly Separates Children From Families

    NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti issued the following statement regarding the Trump administration border policy to forcibly separate children from their families:

    “School leaders recognize the faces of traumatized children. We sit with them as they relive painful experiences, isolate themselves, and act out for their inability to manage effects of deeply damaging events. As schools across the country scrape together whatever resources they can to address the needs of traumatized students, it deeply saddens us to see the faces we know all too well needlessly spreading across the U.S.–Mexico border.

    “NASSP strongly condemns the policy implemented by the Trump administration to forcibly separate children from their families crossing the border to seek asylum. We demand an immediate end to this misguided, cruel policy that is intentionally inflicting trauma on children for strictly political purposes.”

    NAESP Urges End to Child Separation Policy

    In response to the Administration’s child separation policy, NAESP Executive Director Dr. L. Earl Franks, CAE has issued the following statement:

    “Protecting children and ensuring their well-being is core to NAESP’s mission and to the work that principals do as school building leaders. Every day all across the country, principals provide safe and welcoming environments for their students and work vigorously to protect children from trauma in all its forms. NAESP is deeply concerned about the crisis at the U.S. border involving the separation of families and the short- and long-term impact these actions will have on children. To that end, NAESP urges the Administration to end its policy of separating children from their parents who are crossing the border and to work with Congress to find a solution that protects the well-being of these children.”

    AASA Statement On Family Separation

    AASA Executive Director Daniel A. Domenech and AASA officers Gail Pletnick (Dysart Unified, AZ); Chris Gaines (Mehlville, MO) and Deb Kerr (Brown Deer Schools, WI) issued the following statement in response to the recent separation of children and parents at the border:

    "Our nation’s public school superintendents and the schools they serve are legally required to educate the children that come through their doors. We are deeply concerned with recent steps that result in the separation of children and parents at the border. Immigration policy is not easy, but we are deeply troubled by the purposeful and aggressive implementation of a policy that is widely recognized as flawed, one that separates young children from their parents in a world they do not know. AASA is an organization that serves and represents education professionals. And while we won’t claim expertise in immigration policy, the nation’s public school superintendents are experts in what can and does work for students and young children, and we know that the separation policy is harmful, traumatic, and stressful, and these effects may follow these children for the rest of their lives. Policy can be tough and fair without being inhumane, and we urge the administration to immediately cease this intentionally cruel policy.”

  • Summer Healthcare and Pensions Update

    by David Morrill | Jun 13, 2018

    Fred Yancey, a retired principal and superintendent, represents AWSP on health care and retirement issues. Check out his summer conference update with the latest from the School Employee Benefit Board (SEBB), the Public Employee Benefit Board (PEBB), and pensions. Fred can be reached at fyancey@comcast.net if you have questions. Read his update below.

    SEBB: School Employee Benefit Board

    • K–12 health benefits will be consolidated into a statewide insurance pool administered by the Health Care Authority HCA; Effective January 1, 2020.
    • At a minimum, any employee who works or is anticipated to work 630 hours more a year is entitled to benefits. Recent legislation also allowed districts, at their option, to offer benefits to those working less than 630 hours.
    • Future health benefits will be collectively bargained between a coalition of education groups and representatives from the Governor’s Office. Bargaining is to begin after 1, July 2018 “to determine the dollar amount to be contributed on behalf of each employee”.
    • Officials from HCA and the Office of Financial Management (OFM) are currently holding hearings seeking input from the education field on this conversion and specifically how to establish the bargaining coalitions and other issues of concern.
    • It appears that the ‘management’ side of the bargaining table will solely consist of representatives from OFM.
    • One KEY question concerns the funding of benefits. Will these benefits, once negotiated, be state funded on a per-FTE/state formula allocation basis? Or on head-count basis? No one knows. Districts should rightly be concerned over this issue as these potential added costs could be substantial. (Estimated statewide to be about $200-$300 million dollars.)
    • The SEB Board is holding frequent and lengthy meetings to meet the deadline for full implementation.
    • More detail on adopted policies, suggested models, provider interest and other issues is available on the SEBB website https://www.hca.wa.gov/about-hca/school-employees-benefits-board-sebb-program
    • Regular updates and reports from Nexus are sent to AWSP, WASA and WASBO at the end of each meeting.

    PEBB: Public Employee Benefit Board

    • Because PEBB already administers a statewide health care insurance program, its model is the one that the SEBB is using as it creates its ‘own’ design.
    • Both SEBB and PEBB are changing their prescription drug coverage provisions to compel use of generic/cheaper alternative drugs.


    As a head’s up, the Office of the State Actuary will be submitting an early report on longevity. It is likely that it will show that retirees continue to live longer. With longer lives, and a lower, assumed investment return (7.5% from earlier 7.8%), the new result is going to be an increase in pension rates paid by employers and some employees.

  • How to Search For Jobs on AWSP.org

    by David Morrill | Jun 06, 2018


    We've fixed the job search functionality. However, users are still unable to reset their own passwords. If you are an AWSP member and you need to reset your password, call us at 1.800.562.6100 or email us and we'll reset it promptly. 

    There are two ways to view jobs on AWSP now.

    1. If you’re a member, you have to log in. If you know your password, everything should be simple and straightforward. Sadly, our programmers are still trying to sort out some issues with our web platform and our member management database. More on this in a minute.

    2. If you’re not a member, you can sign up for one year of free access to view our job postings.

    Why the change?

    Well, our job listing page is the most popular page on AWSP.org. We would love it if it was our staff bios – kidding, we’re not that vain. We are working hard to promote principal longevity and keep principals in the same building longer. All the research says this is best for kids, but we know people find or change jobs all the time for all sorts of valid reasons. Our goal for the site is to be the number one resource on the web for Washington state principals. We want to provide our members better and more personalized content on a more consistent basis, and having our members sign in to use the site helps us with that.

    The unintended consequence of requiring a member sign-in is some people would lose access, so we created a free job seeker account. We don’t want to put up a barrier to great principals from other states looking for jobs here, or a principal intern with a family on a teacher salary needing to spend the money on an intern membership (although we think it’s a great investment, but hey, we might be a little biased).

    Cool. What does that mean for me?

    If you’re a member…

    • If you know your password, you’re all good. Head on in and find your perfect job.
    • If you don’t know your password, please call us or email webmaster@awsp.org. We’ll get you sorted out quickly.

      • Our reset password function is currently stuck in a really frustrating loop. We apologize. Our vendors are working away at trying to fix it.

    For anyone without an active membership right now…

    • The job seeker page has a sign up which will let you create a free account.
    • In theory, this account will let you access just the job postings. In practice, it’s not working yet.
    • We apologize for the inconvenience. Again, we’re working to get it sorted out as soon as we can.


    We know you are all working hard and this is a stressful time of the year no matter what. If you’re looking for a job, chances are it’s even more stressful. Thanks for your patience as our programmers try and sort everything out. Keep checking back for updates, but we expect the job seeker logins to start working very soon. Hopefully the password reset problem will be fixed quickly too, but if you can’t get logged in, reach out and we can help.

  • AWSP News for June 6, 2018

    by David Morrill | Jun 06, 2018

    In this episode of AWSP News, we discuss:

    • our new website,
    • the Healthy Youth Survey,
    • joining a Networked Improvement Community with a clip from Jason Smith,
    • the Gender Odyssey Conference,
    • cultural items for tribal students during graduation,
    • a tip from Dr. Roz,
    • UW’s Leadership for Learning program, and
    • high five and hug data.

    Prefer to read the news? Read the script.

  • AWSP News for May 23, 2018

    by David Morrill | May 31, 2018

    In this episode of AWSP News, we’re coming to you from our remodeled studio to discuss:

    • Principal Appreciation Night with the Tacoma Rainiers,
    • two great new additions expanding our reach across the state,
    • the Retreat at the Peak Summit at Chewelah Peak,
    • the latest Golden Apple Moment from PEMCO,
    • increasing student voice,
    • our coaching and mentoring efforts, and
    • the PESB’s grants for micro credentialing.

    Prefer to read the news? Read the script.

  • Making the Most of the New Website

    by David Morrill | May 31, 2018
    welcome image


    We've done more than just slap a fresh coat of paint on our website; we've torn it down to the studs and built from the ground up. One of the easiest ways to make the most of the new site is to log in and fill out your profile. When you do that, you'll start to see blog posts and events on the homepage tailored just for you.


    After you've done that, head on over to the blog section. You can subscribe to the blog –– heck, you can even pick a specific category –– and get email notifications whenever we post anything new. 


    Like any new construction or remodel, you might find a rough finish here or there. Please send us your feedback. We'd love to hear your thoughts or if you've found something still needing some work.

    Website Feedback

  • Why Every Bellingham HS Changed Their Schedule

    by David Morrill | Apr 13, 2018
  • AWSP News for April 11, 2018

    by David Morrill | Apr 11, 2018

    In this episode of AWSP News, we discuss:

    • National Assistant Principals Week,
    • FINAO’s Educator Advisory Board,
    • the Governor’s Arts and Heritage Awards,
    • a pair of equity conferences,
    • the NASSP Digital Principal of the Year nominations,
    • some tips from “Dr. Roz,” and
    • two great and inspirational ideas (one of them will make your eyes water from our favorite episode ever).

    Prefer to read the news? Read the script.

  • Retirement & Health Benefits: 2018 Session Review

    by David Morrill | Apr 06, 2018

    “The future depends on what we do with the present.”

    Mahatma Gandhi

    Review of 2018 Legislative Session

    Pensions, Health Care, SEBB, PEBB, Other……

    At the risk of repetition, the legislative session and Governor’s actions have concluded. This was a session that was akin to a sprint to the finish line with the Democrat majorities in both houses pushing many pieces of legislation that had stalled in previous sessions. There were 1,425 new bills introduced and 310 passed during this 60-day session. In 2017, for comparison, for the 193 days of regular and special sessions, 377 bills passed.

    So, what happened regarding pensions, health care, financials and other issues?


    Pension Related Proposals

    Cost of Living Adjustments:

    The original SSB 6340would have provided a 2% cost of living adjustment (COLA) to TRS1 and PERS1 members. As part of the final budget, ESSB 6032, the COLA was reduced to 1.5%. This passedboth houses and has been signed by the Governor. It provides certain retirees of Plan 1 of the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) and Plan 1 of the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) who are receiving a monthly benefit on July 1, 2017, a one-time benefit adjustment of 1.5% multiplied by their monthly benefit, not to exceed $62.50, effective July 2018. (By request of the Select Committee on Pension Policy.)

    In a separate part of the budget, the Medicare health insurance benefit subsidy was increased from the current $150/month to $168/month in 2019. This was done to insure the state Health Care Authority (HCA) continues to receive federal funds in excess of $20 million dollars for paying this subsidy/benefit.

    SB6210B waspassedby both houses and signed by the Governor. It would allow tribal compact schools the option of participating in Plans 2 or 3 of the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) and Plans 2 or 3 the School Employees’ Retirement System (SERS).(By request of the Select Committee on Pension Policy.)

    Retirement Plan Default:

    HB 1560would have allowed Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS), School Employees’ Retirement System (SERS) and Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) members who don’t choose between Plan 2 and Plan 3 within 90 days of initial employment would default into Plan 2. Currently, such members default into Plan 3.  

    This bill died. The Chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee indicated she was uncomfortable dealing with this issue until the Select Committee on Pension Policy (SCPP) made a recommendation. 

    Substitute Options for early Retirees

    There were a number of bills that dealt with expanding opportunities for early retirees to return to work in various substitute capacities. They were consolidated into E4SHB 1827. Thiswas a large bill whereexpanding the current and future educator workforce supply was just one part of the proposal. Although it passed the House, it failed to pass the Senate. Last session(s), the law was changed to allow early retirees to return to school as substitutes under certain conditions. This proposal would have removed both the August 1, 2020 sunset date for that allowance and the directive regarding substitute pay. It would have allowed retirees to return to work in any non-administrative capacity including classified employees such as bus drivers, OT’s, PT’s, etc. 

    SB 5310 would have allowed a temporary return to work for early retirees to work as K-12 coaches up to 867 hours. Although it passed the Senate, it made no progress in the House.

    School Employee Benefit Board (SEEB)Health Related Proposals

    ESSB 6241 This bill was a ‘clean up’ bill requested by the Health Care Authority (HCA). It was amended and a number of changes lobbied by WEA and PSE and clarifications were made. 

    A couple of interesting additions included permission to negotiate eligibility for benefits on behalf of employees who work less than 630 hours. (A reminder than any employee expected to work 630 or more hours is eligible.) Another one would allow districts to provide other employee benefits as long as they do not compete with PEBB/SEBB offerings. 

    The bill passedboth chambers and has been signed by the Governor.  

    It’s important to briefly review EHB 2242 whose title is “Funding fully the state's program of basic education by providing equitable education opportunities through reform of state and local education contributions”. Although it passed and was signed in 2017, it laid out the SEBB conversion requirements and plan. 

    An important date approaching concerns bargaining. Section 817(3) reads in part: “…Employee bargaining shall be initiated after July 1, 2018,36 over the dollar amount to be contributed beginning January 1, 2020, on behalf of each employee for health care benefits. Bargaining must subsequently be conducted in even-numbered years between the governor or governor's designee and one coalition of all the exclusive bargaining representatives impacted by benefit purchasing with the school employees' benefits board established in section 801 of this act, consistent with RCW 28A.400.280 and 28A.400.350. The coalition bargaining must follow the model initially established for state employees in RCW 41.80.020. The governor shall submit a request for funds necessary to implement the collective bargaining agreement for the dollar amount to be expended for school employee health benefits, or for legislation necessary to implement the agreement….

    The Governor vetoed Section 819 which ends the reporting requirements for school employee health insurance benefits to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner. However, reporting requirements for districts to supply requested information to the HCA in support of making the conversion to a SEBB model remain in effect.

    The SEB Board was/is directed to also look at what to do with the aging non-Medicare and Medicare retirees. Section 804(4) reads in part: “ By December 15, 2018, the health care authority, in consultation with the public employees' benefits board and the school employees' benefits board, shall submit to the appropriate committees of the legislature a complete analysis of the most appropriate risk pool for the retired and disabled school employees, to include at a minimum an analysis of the size of the non-Medicare and Medicare retiree enrollment pools, the impacts on cost for state and school district retirees of moving retirees from one pool to another, the need for and the amount of an ongoing retiree subsidy allocation from the active school employees, and the timing and suggested approach for a transition from one risk pool to another…”

    ESHB 2408 Relating to preserving access to individual market health care coverage throughout Washington state.For plan years beginning January 1, 2020, a health carrier must offer in the Washington Health Benefit Exchange (Exchange) at least on Silver and one Gold qualified health plans (QHP) in any county in which it offers a fully insured health plan that was approved, on or after the act's effective date, by the Public Employees' Benefits Board (PEBB) or the School Employees' Benefits Board (SEBB). The rates for a PEBB or SEBB-approved health plan may not include the administrative costs or actuarial risks associated with the QHP offered by the carrier. 


    This bill has passedboth chambers. 

    Post-Session re: Health CarePost-session is when the SEEB process begins in earnest. The Select Committee on Pension Policy will also restart.

    Recent meetings have been held by the SEB Board and the PEB Boards. A summary of content with assorted links to the materials is below. Topics and issues discussed have significant consequences to districts. 

    Family and Medical Leave

    HB 2702 makes technical corrections requested by the Employment Security Department in the Family and Medical Leave Act passed last session. It passed both houses and is awaiting action from the Governor.  

    ESHB 1434 Adding the use of shared leave for employees who are sick or temporarily disabled because of pregnancy disability or for the purposes of parental leave to bond with the employee’s newborn, adoptive or foster child. 

    The purpose of the Shared Leave Program (Program) is modified to permit employees to help fellow employees who are sick or temporarily disabled due to pregnancy disability or for parental leave. Agency heads may permit employees to receive shared leave for parental leave, or for sickness or temporary disability due to pregnancy disability. Employees are not required to deplete all of their annual and sick leave and may maintain up to 40 hours of annual leave and 40 hours of sick leave in reserve.

    For purposes of the Program, "parental leave" is defined as leave to bond and care for a

    newborn child after birth or to bond and care for a child after placement for adoption or

    foster care, for a period of up to 16 weeks after the birth or placement. "Pregnancy

    disability" is defined as a pregnancy-related medical condition or miscarriage.

    This bill passedboth houses and has been signed by the Governor. 


    Bills that may have fiscal/HR impacts for districts

    SHB 2703 Modifies the employment security act to clarify eligibility for education employee unemployment compensation claims for educational employees who have multiple employers. It also modifies the analysis of whether an educational employee has a contract or reasonable assurance of continued employment for purposes of unemployment benefits. This bill may have unintended costs for school districts. 

    This bill passed both houses and has been signed by the Governor.





    What will the future hold?

    Many policy bills proposed during both the long and short sessions failed to advance. However, the key themes represented by them will likely be re-introduced through new legislation during the 2017 Session(s). See selected bill review for proposals that addressed many of these areas.

    Moving into speculation on the future, some key activities may occur:

    1. Maintaining Democrat majorities in both houses. The Democrats currently hold slim majorities in both houses. The November election will be critical.
    2. Reshuffling committee assignments and leadership positions in both houses. Currently eleven (11) Representatives and two (2) Senators have announced retirements. These include some current leaders. The filing period (May 14-18) will be important to monitor.
    3. Allowing districts and cooperatives to opt out of the SEBB model and continue their present practices. Efforts during the 2018 session were unsuccessful. However, some districts and brokers will continue the argument.
    4. Seeking full funding of the SEBB benefits for districts. The law says that districts are to fund benefits on a per-head basis, rather than the standard pro-rata basis. This will add benefit costs to a district. For example, Wayne Leonard from Mead School District roughly estimated the additional costs to his district were $750,000.
    5. Maintaining the recent Medicare health subsidy increase at a minimum. Efforts will be made to get full restoration of the health care insurance benefit for school Medicare retirees back to a minimum of $183/month. It was reduced from that to $150/month in 2011.
    6. Working toward putting school retirees in the largest risk pool available which would reduce their current insurance costs.    
    1. Changing the current retirement plan default from 3 to 2. The SCPP will be asked to make this recommendation. This change would create savings to the state that range from $43 to $143 million over 25 years.
    1. Fundamentally changing the state’s current pension system into a defined contribution model (401-K). Senator Braun, the current ranking Republican on the Senate Ways and Means Committee, (WM) is a leading advocate of making these changes.
    2. Merging of the LEOFF 1 and TRS 1 pension funds. This proposal never surfaced during either of the sessions. However, this merger would decrease the unfunded liability in both Plans 1, an issue dear to the Republican leaders.
    3. 10)Increasing opportunities for members who retired under the 2008 Early Retirement Factors (ERF) to work in various capacities in a school district beyond the current allowance to substitute teach. 
    4. 11)Removing the sunset date allowing the use of ERF members as substitute teachers. 
    5. 12)Moving to a state-wide collective bargaining contract for all K-12 employees. (This is a real ‘pie-in-the-sky’ projection.) The statewide SEBB program and bargaining model can be adapted to the wider arena on salaries and other benefits. The current model allowing districts to develop their own salary schedules will lead to disparities and inequalities between districts and regions. 



    Selected Financials

    ESSB 6032 State Budget


    Below are selected financial figures from the adopted supplemental 2018 budget:


                                                             2017- 2018                               2018-2019


    Fringe benefit allocation     23.49%                                  23.65%/Allocated Certificated

                                                    24.60%                                  24.67%/Allocated Classified 


    Insurance Health

    Benefit                                               $820                                     $843.97 

    Medicare Insurance

    Subsidy for Retirees                       $150                                       $168


    Retirement Contributions                                       

    TRS                                                                                                   13.13%

    PERS                                                                                              11.18%

    SERS                                                                                                11.58%


    (Note: These rates are subject to change. The State Actuary and the Pension Funding Council set these rates yearly. They have yet to meet.)


    Substitute Rate                    $151.86                                             $151.86

    (4 subs/classroom teacher unit)


    Health Care

    Carve-out                              $64.07 Begin 9/2017              $71.08 Begin 9/2018



    If you have any questions, please feel free to make contact.


    Fred Yancey

    The Nexus Group LLC


  • AWSP News for March 21, 2018

    by David Morrill | Mar 28, 2018

    In this episode of AWSP News, we discuss:

    • the student walkouts and empowering student voice,
    • the Washington State Mental Health Summit,
    • a great way to show staff appreciation shared with us by Jostens,
    • the recent David Brooks Op-Ed in the New York Times about the integral role of the principal in strong schools,
    • a meeting with Washington Roundtable and Challenge Seattle,
    • the importance of a professional learning network (PLN), and
    • one principal’s equity journey as a result of a strong PLN.

    Prefer to read the news? Read the script.

  • Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB) Meeting

    by David Morrill | Mar 22, 2018

    The PEB Board held its monthly meeting March 21, 2018. A short summary follows. A briefing book offers more details.

    This report primarily focuses on issues related to retirees, both those who are pre-Medicare eligible and those that are Medicare eligible and choose PEBB insurance as their supplemental health policy.

    The most interesting fact that came out of the meeting concerns risk pools. The claims history and demographic make-up of these pools are the primary drivers for rates. This year, for example, the UMP Classic insurance rates (commonly referred to as the “Uniform Medical Plan”) paid by Medicaid retirees increased $55.51/month. Why? Well, two main drivers affected these rates. One, was the increased use and cost of prescription medications (61% of the claims). The other is the fact that the Medicare retirees are in a separate risk pool. (Non-Medicare retirees are in the regular PEBB risk pool.) Clearly, having older members with probable health issues due to aging makes for expensive claim experiences. This rate increase, particularly for those Plan 1 retirees who have not had a cost of living adjustment since 2011, is a hardship. In fact, this increase is a hardship for anyone living on a fixed income. It’s important to remember that Medicare retirees already pay a minimum $105/month for Medicare.

    Kaiser Medicare Advantage plan rates are not as volatile since they receive direct dollars from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid which offset any potential rate increase. UMP is self-insured and does not receive Federal dollars, aside from the Retiree Drug Subsidy. (See below)(A reminder that due in December 2018, the School Employee Benefit Board (SEBB) is to make recommendations as to whether the Medicare retirees remain in PEBB or shift to SEBB.)

    Some facts regarding enrollments:

    • Non-Medicare retirees: 6,700
    • Medicare enrollees: 92,603
    • Total PEBB Enrollment for Members and Non-Medicare Retirees: 285,772 (2018)

    The 2018 Supplemental Budget increased the retiree health insurance subsidy from $150 to $168 beginning January 2019. This was primarily done to ensure that the $20 plus million dollars the Health Care Authority (HCA) for its Retiree Drug Subsidy continues.

    What can be done to address the rate increases?

    There are many options that the PEB Board could consider. All would require fiscal analysis. Some ideas could include:

    1. Change the formulary in the UMP. The Board has some jurisdiction over setting up different parameters of the formulary.
    2. Move Medicare eligible retirees into the PEBB risk pool, or the SEBB risk pools to share claim and demographic experiences.
    3. Increase the health subsidy for retirees from present $168/month. This recent increase is for 2019 only. After that, without legislative action, the subsidy will revert back to $150/month.
    4. Offer more plan and resulting cost options.
    5. Discontinue prescription coverage.
    6. Offer separate prescription insurance.

    Other items of note:

    There was a presentation on the NW Prescription Drug Consortium which includes Oregon and Washington entities. This primarily benefits those individuals who do not have prescription coverage and must pay cash for their prescriptions. It is open to enrollment by individuals. It negotiates drug prices and discounts available when using its free Pharmacy Discount Card at participating pharmacies. Discounts range from 20%–80% depending on use of generic or brand name drugs.

    Read more for information, including free enrollment.

    The last presentation concerned an overview of discount programs available to subscribers and their dependents of PEBB. These include such examples as Silver Sneakers (a Health club discount program available to eligible seniors), vision products, LASIK, alternative medicine treatments, hearing aid products and services and more.

    Links to more information: * Kaiser member perks * Public employee plan discounts

    The link given at the start of this report contains more detail for those interested. Feel free to contact me if you have further questions.

    Fred Yancey
    The Nexus Group, LLC