The legislature just wrapped up week 4 – the half-way point. Any bill that didn’t make it out of committee is now dead for session, unless it has to do with the budget.
Here’s a rundown on bills we are following:
Bills WEA Supports:
This is the Governor’s proposal to increase beginning salaries, provide a 1% raise to all K-12 educators and double the funding of the new-teacher mentoring program. Both chambers have heard the bill. We support this bill as a modest first step toward improving pay, and have been clear that it doesn’t go far enough.
This legislation is in response to a NBI 21. It takes the first step in fully funding Career and Technical Education (CTE) Materials, Supplies and Operating Costs (MSOC). It had a hearing in the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee and has been assigned to the House Appropriations Committee. As it pertains to a fiscal issue it can remain alive through all policy cut-off deadlines.
HB 1737, Orcutt – Substitute shortage
This legislation was introduced last session. It is appears to have strong support this year, passing the House by a nearly unanimous vote (96 Yea; 1 Nay; 1 Excused). The bill would allow retirees who retired early using the 2008 Early Retirement Factors to work as substitutes for up to 630 hours per year until August 2020. It has been referred to the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Committee and is expected to have a hearing during the second half of session. Provisions of this bill have appeared in other bills related to addressing teacher shortages. If HB 1737 doesn’t move forward, there will be opportunities to include these changes elsewhere.
SB 5559, Billig – Tuition Waivers
This legislation was introduced during the 2015 session in response to an NBI. If passed it would allow K-12 ESP employees to get tuition waivers for courses pertaining to their jobs. It died in Senate Rules last year. Senator Billig pulled it to the floor and we are working to get it passed through the Senate and on to the House.
SHB 2615, Pollet – Two year faculty pay
This bill would convert part-time positions to full-time to improve pay for two-year college faculty. It was approved by the House Higher Education Committee with an amendment identifying a goal of 200 conversions in each of the next three biennia.
Bills WEA Opposes:
SB 6194, Litzow – Charter Schools
This legislation is almost exactly the same as the charter school initiative the State Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional. It was the first education bill passed off the floor of the Senate. The vote can be found here. Rep. Santos, Chair of the House Education Committee has not yet scheduled a hearing for any of the charter school bills.
Still no action by the Senate to address the 1.1 million students waiting for the Legislature to respond to the McCleary decision and fully fund our schools.
SB 6408, Hill – Paraeducators PD and licensure
This legislation is a rewrite of a bill WEA opposed and successfully stopped last Session. While it addresses the need to establish and fund high quality professional development for instructional paraeducators, it also ties it to a licensure/certification system.
Paraeducators would be required to take specific courses with no guarantee that the courses would be affordable or accessible. Failure to do so could result in loss of their jobs if the bill passes as written without adequate funding.
WEA continues to oppose the legislation while attempting to remove the licensure requirements. The bill passed out of the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Committee and has been referred to Ways and Means, but not yet scheduled for a hearing.
Other Key Legislation
The WEA has neither supported nor opposed the legislature’s plan to further study and debate the implementation plan for McCleary. But, we have made it abundantly clear that numerous studies have already been done and that now is the time for action. We have consistently recommended that the legislature pair any continued study plans with concrete actions this year to make progress in meeting the state’s obligation to amply fund public schools for our over 1 million students. The funding gap is so large, there are plenty of opportunities for the legislature to make progress on salaries, class sizes, counselors, librarians, nurses, ESPs, benefits, and MSOC costs for CTE programs – to name a few.