Education-related bills in state Legislature

By Paul Gottlieb

Special to the Peninsula Daily News

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposed $70.4 billion 2023-25 budget includes $120 million for special education services, more than half of which would cover increasing the 13.5 percent cap on state funding for school district costs to educate students with disabilities.

House and Senate budget writers are putting together their own spending plans they expect to release within the next two weeks.

Inslee’s proposal includes $32 million for outdoor education and $2 million to increase climate science education. It proposed $336 million for higher education and $3.6 million to increase nursing student capacity by 400 professionals over four years.

Below are several education-related bills that were passed by the House and Senate by March 8 and are being considered by the opposite chamber.

The deadline is April 12 for passing opposite chamber bills, except budgets and bills determined to be necessary to implement the budget and bills that are changed in the opposite chamber. Those changes must be approved in the house of origin.

Follow the progress of legislation on leg.wa.gov by going to “Bill Information” on the dropdown menu and inserting the bill number in the search bar for the bill page.

The information below is drawn from bill reports available on that page.

Instructional programs

• ESB 5462: Requires that the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, by Dec. 1, 2024, review and update state learning standards at all grade levels to include histories, contributions and perspectives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people.

Requires the State School Directors Association to review and update a model policy requiring school boards to adopt instructional materials on the histories, contributions and perspectives of historically marginalized and underrepresented groups.

 HB 1332: Requires all school districts to incorporate the grant-funded “Since Time Immemorial” tribal sovereignty curriculum into social studies curricula by Sept. 1, 2024 and, in consultation with the nearest federally recognized tribe, incorporate materials about history, culture and government of those tribes by Sept. 1, 2026. Curriculum would be included in U.S. history, government or civics classes in grades 9-12 and be taught at least once to students in grades K-8.

• ESB 5355: Requires instruction on sex trafficking prevention and identification at least once to grade 7-12 students beginning by the 2025-26 school year.

• SSB 5670: Allows 10th-graders to participate in the Running Start program for 11th- and 12-graders by taking college-level courses in online-settings only. They could take no more than five credits each term, or the semester equivalent.

• E2SSB 5243: Established new requirements for High School and Beyond Plans, a prerequisite for graduating, directs Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to adopt a universal online HSBP platform.

• SSB 5617: Cooperative agreements between school districts for operation of skill centers would stipulate that course equivalencies approved by OSPI or the host school district must be honored by participating districts. Students in grades 9-12 must be notified of opportunities to meet graduation requirements through Career and Technical Education-equivalency courses, including those at skill centers.

• SSB 5626: Subject to appropriation, it directs OSPI to establish a program to expand school districts’ capability to integrate, into subject areas, media literacy and digital citizenship, defined under state law as including norms of appropriate, responsible and healthy behavior regarding use of technology including ethics, etiquette and security. It includes internet safety and prevention of and response to cyberbullying. The effort would be funded by a grant program.

• SSB 5648: Expands basic education waivers granted by OSPI to charter schools and state-tribal education compact schools that meet certain conditions, such as being necessary to implement a plan that enhances students’ education.

• HB 1750: Designates May 15 as Water Safety Day, when teachers and others who work directly with children are encouraged to train and provide educational materials on water safety, water rescue and drowning prevention.

Special education

• ESHB 1436: Beginning in the 2023-2024 school year, annually increases the excess cost multiplier for state funding of special education for students with disabilities, and annually increases the special education funding enrollment limit of 13.5 percent of a district’s K-12 students until the cap is removed for the 2027-28 school year.

• SSB 5311: Increases the special education state funding cap from 13.5 percent to 15 percent.

• E2SSB 5274: Requires state funding to school districts with excess passenger transportation costs for special education, homeless, and foster students.

• E2SSB 5315: Requires OSPI to establish standards for nonpublic agencies that provide special education programs for school district students with disabilities.

• SHB 1109: Reimburses public schools up to $3,000 for a student’s initial special education evaluation and up to $3,000 for developing an individualized education program (IEP) during summer 2023, 2024 and 2025. Extraordinary costs for the evaluation and IEP development would be evaluated in 2026.

Personnel, operations

• SSB 5054: Encourages school districts to provide up to four hours weekly for teachers to take part in professional learning communities (PLCs) during the school day. A PLC is a group of educators within a district that meets regularly to share expertise to enhance teaching skills and develop students’ academic and personal growth. The definition of instructional hours would be modified to include hours students are involved in educational activities while being supervised by noncertified staff supervision during PLC meetings.

• E2SHB 1565: Establishes a teacher residency program consisting of a yearlong co-teaching assignment in a public school while completing teacher preparation program coursework.

• ESB 5175: Increases maximum principal contracts of up to one year to up to three years and requires a contract to be contingent on an updated record check.

• SB 5403: Requires school districts to establish a maximum 2 percent depreciation fund in the general fund for preventative maintenance or emergency facility needs.

• HB 1238: Provides free breakfast and lunch to K-4 public, charter and state-tribal education compact school students who request meals in a phased program.

It would begin with schools with 40 percent or more students eligible for free or reduced-price meals in the 2023-24 school year and lower the threshhold to 30 percent in 2024-25. Beginning in 2024-25, districts must implement a breakfast program in each school that is required to provided school meals to any qualified student who requests it.

The original version provided meals to all K-12 students.

________

Legislative Reporter Paul Gottlieb, a former senior reporter at Peninsula Daily News, can be reached at cpaulgottlieb@gmail.com.

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