Legislative Update for March 12, 2021

Roz Thompson, Governmental Relations & Advocacy Director, AWSP
Mar 12, 2021

leg update blog

After this Tuesday’s bill cutoff, the surviving bills switched houses and the committee hearing process started up again. This week and next week’s schedule of bill hearings are listed below.

Work on the supplemental, operating, and capital budgets continues. The state’s budget outlook seems to look better each month and a third round of federal funding is on its way. But our work for stable education funding is far from over. The next major revenue forecast will be released at the March 17th meeting of the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council and the Senate and the House will release their budgets shortly thereafter. Our job is to keep telling our stories about what financial support we need from the state to educate each and every student safely.

Action in the “other” Washington this week will have a major impact on how our legislators, budget writers, and Governor address these budgets. The American Rescue Plan provides $1.9 trillion in relief to schools, businesses, governments and people. Our state will receive $1.9 billion for K–12 schools.

Superintendent Chris Reykdal said, “about 88% of the $1.9 billion for K–12 education will go directly to local school districts and they should treat this as ‘one time money’ for costs such as upgrades to ventilation systems, personal protective equipment and additional counseling and interventions for children facing severe learning loss or other issues.” Reykdal, like many others, is hopeful that these funds help return more students to in-person learning and cause people to think creatively about how our education system might change in positive ways in response to this crisis. For example, Reykdal has suggested he would like his office to be able to provide grants for districts to think about changing school calendars.

At its March 11 meeting, the State Board of Education (SBE) adopted emergency rules that allow school districts to waive certain graduation requirements for individual students due to the impacts of the COVID–19 pandemic. These emergency rules apply immediately to the graduating Class of 2021.

The SBE released this additional information:

“Districts must work with students individually, give guidance on options to the student, consult with the family if possible, and then decide jointly with the student whether a waiver is right for that student. Use of the waiver must be documented in the student’s records, including how the student demonstrated preparation for plans after high school. The emergency rules require school districts to collect and review data on the use of waivers and take appropriate steps to address any inequities. This data will be reported to OSPI and the SBE. School districts may apply online to the SBE for the Emergency Waiver Program beginning in late March. The State Board expects to propose permanent rules for the Classes of 2022 and 2023 at its May 12–13 meeting and, after receiving feedback from the public, adopt permanent rules at its July 14–15 meeting.”

Outdoor School for All

Outdoor School for All is gaining some great momentum! This is a statewide effort to get all 5th or 6th grade students to outdoor camp for a week. Senator Sam Hunt sponsored a $10 million budget request that would help start on this goal by getting 20,000 students to outdoor camp. The Washington Outdoor School Consortium (WOSC) is sponsored by our Washington School Principals Education Foundation (WSPEF) and our staff is working with a fantastic group of outdoor education advocates all across the state to make this happen. Learn more at the Outdoor School for All website.

Bills Heard This Week:

House bills heard in the Senate:

  • HB 1028 | Repealing the EdTPA
  • HB 1295 | Concerning institutional education
  • HB 1302 | Concerning college in the high school programs
  • HB 1342 | Eliminating lunch copays for students who qualify for reduced-price lunches
  • HB 1208 | Modifying the learning assistance program
  • HB 1356 | Prohibiting the inappropriate use of Native American names, symbols or images as public school mascots, logos, or team names
  • HB 1325 | Implementing policies related to children and youth behavioral health

Senate bills heard in the House:

  • SB 5030 | Comprehensive school counseling programs
  • SB 5044 | Professional learning related to equity, cultural competency, and dismantling institutional racism in schools
  • SB 5184 | Establishing a point of contact in all K–12 schools for students in foster care
  • SB 5181 | Providing school districts serving low-income communities with flexibility in financing their facilities
  • SB 5202 | Establishing school district depreciation subfunds for the purposes of preventative maintenance
  • SB 5376 | Promoting awareness of the governor’s office of the education ombuds
  • SB 5249 | Mastery based learning
  • SB 5299 | Allowing computer science courses as a third year of either a math or science graduation requirement
  • SB 5237 | Expanding accessible, affordable child care and early childhood development programs

Bills being heard next week:

House bills heard in the Senate:

  • HB 1139 | Taking action to address lead in drinking water
  • HB 1273 | Concerning menstrual products in schools
  • HB 1365 | Procuring and supporting appropriate computers and devices for public school students and staff
  • HB 1484 | Concerning the statewide first responder building mapping information system
  • HB 1113 | Concerning school attendance
  • HB 1162 | Concerning high school graduation credit (20 credits) and pathway options (performance exhibition)
  • HB 1176 | Access to higher education (fines and fees)
  • HB 1214 | Providing K–12 public school safety and security services by classified staff
  • HB 1426 | Continuing education requirements for administrators and teachers

Senate bills heard in the House:

  • SB 5043 | Providing housing to school district employees
  • SB 5128 | Concerning student transportation funding
  • SB 5242 | Supporting media literacy and digital citizenship
  • SB 5265 | Creating a bridge year pilot program

More Links

  • LU2021
  • Advocacy & Legislation

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