“The ‘Virtual’ Hill We Climb”
The second week of the legislative session is coming to a close and it’s been a big week here in this Washington and of course in the “other” Washington, as well.
Here in Olympia, there seems to be a constant stream of bills that will eventually have hearings dropping each day. There are also budget discussions taking place for how and when districts will receive the second round of federal dollars for K–12 education along with how the state funding will continue to support schools. And, we are hearing from President Biden there might be a third round of funding from the federal government. The short version, I believe, is that funding will be stable for next school year. How that all gets sorted out, however, remains to be seen. An important concern we’ve shared with legislators is making sure the dollars driven to specific programs that are dependent upon enrollment numbers like levy equalization (LEA), learning assistance (LAP), skills centers, institutional education, special education, hi-cap, and more, stay steady as well.
Hearings took place this week on several bills of significance. The House Education Committee passed HB 1121 (the high school graduation waiver bill) out of committee. It should be voted on by the House today and then sent over to the Senate. The House Education Committee also addressed HB 1085 that would require health plans for students with seizures, HB 1113 that would update attendance rules to include more of a focus on therapeutic supports for students, and HB 1295 which would transform institutional education in our state.
HB 1162 was also heard this week and this bill would reduce the number of credits required for graduation from 24 to 20 and would add a portfolio pathway option. We submitted written comments for this bill as “other” with support for increased flexibility and options and concern for lack of clarity and details about the new portfolio pathway. There were a lot of people who weighed in on this bill and a variety of opinions were shared.
The Senate Early Learning and K–12 Education Committee heard SB 5037 related to transparent school opening, SB 5147 related to alternative school calendars, and SB 5161 related to teaching Washington’s tribal history and requiring administrator preparation programs to include this as part of their course work. They also heard bills that would require that schools provide menstrual products (SB 5070), require that each school establish a point of contact for foster youth (SB 5184), and improve the childcare industry through the Fair Start Act (SB 5237).
Additional bills were heard in different committees that may be of interest including several related to the juvenile justice system (SB 5120, SB 5122, SB 5123 and SB 5129) and HB 1140 that would require juvenile access to attorneys when contacted by law enforcement officers, including school resource officers.
Bills Included in Next Week’s Schedule
House Education Committee
- HB 1139 | Taking action to address lead in drinking water
- HB 1139 | Increasing language access in public schools
- HB 1176 | Concerning access to higher education
- HB 1208 | Modifying the learning assistance program (LAP) to increase flexibility
- HB 1214 | Providing K–12 public school safety and security services by classified staff or contractors (requires that security staff complete training)
House Health Care and Wellness Committee
- HB 1225 | Concerning school-based health centers
Senate Early Learning and K–12 Education Committee
- SB 5242 | Supporting media literacy and digital citizenship
- SB 5249 | Supporting mastery-based learning
- SB 5252 | Concerning school district consultation with local tribes
- SB 5265 | Creating a bridge year pilot program (an optional additional year of high school because of the pandemic)
- SB 5181 | Providing school districts serving low-income communities with flexibility in financing their facilities
- SB 5200 | Establishing a tax credit for contributions to student scholarship organizations
- SB 5202 | Establishing school district depreciation sub funds for the purpose of preventative maintenance
Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee
- SB 5288 | Increasing access to the Washington opportunity scholarship program
Senate State Government and Elections Committee
- SB 5264 | Declaring January as Chinese American history month and encouraging public schools to commemorate this month
February 8–12 will be our AWSP’s Advocacy Week. If you are interested in joining our advocacy efforts, email me to get involved.
If you want to share your voice in this remote session, it is easier than ever. Read more here: