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House Budget Proposal and the "Waiver Bill"

Posted by Jerry Bender on March 27, 2015 at 06:32:06 PM


Friday morning, the House Education Operating Budget (HB 1106) was released and is scheduled for a public hearing on Monday, March 30 with executive action scheduled for Tuesday, March 31. The adoption of the budget by the full House appears to be scheduled for Thursday, April 2. Highlights of the education portion of the House’s proposed budget for the next biennium include:

  • $741M for Material, Supplies, and Operating Costs (MSOC).
  • $666.1M funding enhancements for:
    • Smaller K–3 class sizes of 17 by 2017–19,
    • Increased allocations for elementary school/parent involvement coordinators and middle and high school guidance counselors,
    • 100% funding for all-day kindergarten by 2016–17, and
    • Increased transitional bilingual instructional hours for middle and high schools.
  • $356M increase in funding for K–12 health benefits and COLA increase (3% in 2015–16 and 1.8% in 2016–17).
  • Funding adjustment are made to I–1351 to reflect the K–3 class size, family engagement coordinators, and guidance counselors additions as part of I–1351.
  • $4.2M for school turnaround initiative grants to support persistently lowest-achieving schools.
  • $10M is saved from the revision in statewide assessments required in order to earn a certificate of academic achievement for high school graduation.
  • $5M for training teachers in TPEP.
  • $3.9M for the implementation of performance based evaluation for certificated educators.
  • $810K/yr for the Washington State Leadership Academy.
  • $477K/yr for leadership internship program for principals.

Specific details on each portion of the education section of the operating budget are on pages 131–155 of the Agency Detail Report.

The Senate’s version of the 2015–17 budget is expected to be released next week and then the negotiations between the House and the Senate can begin in earnest.

The House’s two year Capital Budget (HB 1115) was also released today and is scheduled for a public hearing on Monday, March 30 as well. The major items in the $690M of money for schools include:

  • $300K for the Clark County Skill Center
  • $500K for the NEWTECH Skill Center in Spokane;
  • $1.7M for Tri-Tech Skills Center;
  • $3.6M for the Puget Sound Skills Center;
  • $15M for competitive local assistance grants for STEM labs and classrooms
  • $10M is provided for full day kindergarten capacity grants, and
  • $8M is provided for energy efficiency improvements in K‐12 public schools.

Additionally, $1.5M is provided to the Washington State University’s Extension Energy Office to complete the data collection for the inventory and condition of schools system, and $5M is provided through the Office of Financial Management for urgent school facility repair and renovation grants to address unforeseen health and safety needs.

A complete summary of the Capital Budget will give an overview of all the projects the House proposes be completed during the biennium.

Bills in Play

SB 5748 is the linchpin bill of education issues for the 2015 legislative session. Normally reported as the “Waiver Bill,” it:

  • Requires that one of the multiple measures of student growth used for purposes of evaluating certain teachers and principals must be the student results on federally mandated statewide student assessments and is subject to collective bargaining.
  • Extends to the 2017–18 school year the time when evaluation results for certificated classroom teachers and principals must be used as one of multiple factors in making human resources and personnel decisions.

The House Education Committee is scheduled to hear the bill on Monday, March 30, but it is doubtful the Committee will pass the bill prior to the cut-off date of Wednesday, April 1. In response, the Senate Early Learning & K–12 Education Committee has cancelled its Monday hearing and could cancel both their Tuesday and Wednesday hearings, leaving a number of House bills to “die” because they have not passed out of the Senate education policy committee. However, because SB 5748 has fiscal issues embedded in it, the issue will probably be in play until the session ends. A number of newspapers have run editorials about the issue, including the Seattle Times opinion piece by Senators Mullet and Pedersen.

In the meantime, the current AWSP Bill Watch (PDF) provides a snapshot of bills that are still in play.