Everett Public Schools Guest Blog: Adjusting to Remote Learning

By Dr. Ian Saltzman, Superintendent, Everett Public Schools
Guest Blogger

 

Dr. Ian Saltzman

The first American school, Boston Latin School, was established in 1635 and is both the first public school and oldest existing school in the United States. What school looks like has changed gradually over the last nearly 400 years. Until 2020. The spring of 2020 saw rapid change and development of what “going to school” looks like. When Everett Public Schools had the first positive COVID-19 result at the end of February, there was immediate work to change how schools would be teaching and how students would be learning.

In the subsequent month, we developed processes and implemented plans to serve emergency meals, provide childcare to first responders and distribute additional Chromebooks and WiFi hotspots so students could start school from home. (All high school students and most middle school students already had Chromebooks thanks to the district’s 2016 Technology Levy.) We have distributed over 14,000 Chromebooks and 900 hotspots in addition to serving over 17,000 meals weekly because our first priority is the well-being of our students and then making sure they have the tools they need to stay engaged with learning. Read More

Podcast – Chief Justice Debra Stephens on Equity and COVID-19

In our podcast, we interview policymakers, partners, and thought leaders to spotlight education policies, research, and practices so that together we can create a brighter future for every Washington student.

In this episode, League of Education Voters Communications Director Arik Korman asks Washington state Supreme Court Chief Justice Debra Stephens how COVID-19 has impacted Washington courts, how the court system can support students in an equitable way, what worked in her personal education journey, and what she would do to transform our education system if there were no budgetary constraints.

 

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UPDATED – 2020 Washington Legislative Session Recap

By League of Education Voters Policy Team

The end of the 2020 legislative session saw the legislature and other state leaders working rapidly and tirelessly to address the spreading COVID-19 pandemic in our schools and communities. We are incredibly grateful for the efforts of our public officials and public servants in these uncertain times to ensure that our communities are safe, and our most impacted students and families get the support they need.

The 2020 legislative session was a short, 60-day session, where legislators worked on a supplemental budget to the 2019-2021 biennial budget passed in 2019. While there were many robust debates and promising proposals regarding education investments leading up to the end of session, the need to prioritize investing in the response to COVID-19 and prepare for potential impacts on our economy, families, and healthcare system took precedent in the final budget. You can read our summary of the final 2020 supplemental budget here. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 crisis and growing economic impacts by the time of budget signing, the Governor had to make the difficult decision to veto a number of budget items that were passed by the Legislature.

During the 2020 session, League of Education Voters pursued policy priorities in four issue areas: early childhood education, student supports, special education, and local K-12 funding. Read More

UPDATED – 2020 Supplemental Budget Summary

By League of Education Voters Policy Team

UPDATE: Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 crisis and growing economic impacts by the time of budget signing, the Governor had to make the difficult decision to veto a number of budget items that were passed by the Legislature.

The Washington state legislature released their budget compromise on March 11 for the 2020 supplemental budget. The 2020 supplemental budget makes adjustments to the 2019-21 biennial budget that will impact the remainder of the biennium, ending in June 2021.

The highlights include increases in both the Working Connections Child Care ($41 million) and ECEAP, the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program ($9.1 million), to increase access to childcare for families and increase funding rates for providers.

One of the most notable additions to the K-12 education budget is funding for high-poverty elementary schools to hire additional counselors ($31.8 million). This marks the first time in which high-poverty elementary schools will receive funding to staff their schools at higher levels than non-high poverty schools through the base funding formula. Currently, this increased funding will be in effect for the 2020-21 school year, but will need to be renewed in future budgets to continue beyond that.

The legislature made an increase of $1.9 million to the special education Safety Net program. Unfortunately, no other investments or changes in the special education funding formulas made it through the 2020 legislative session.

Other important investments in supporting families include $150,000 for the Office of Education Ombuds (OEO) to increase capacity and develop training in diversity, equity, and inclusion and $133,000 for the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) to develop a family engagement framework.

With the passage and subsequent funding of the Workforce Education Investment Act (House Bill 2158) during the last legislative session, which made significant increases to state-funded financial aid, there were no substantive changes made to higher education funding or financial aid.

See how the 2020 supplemental budget agreement compares with the House, Senate, and Governor Inslee’s 2020 supplemental budget proposals. Strikethrough text indicates items that were vetoed by Gov. Inslee on April 3, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Read More

Podcast – Rachel Madding on Multi-Tiered System of Supports

In our podcast, we interview policymakers, partners, and thought leaders to spotlight education policies, research, and practices so that together we can create a brighter future for every Washington student.

In this episode, League of Education Voters Communications Director Arik Korman asks Rachel Madding, School Mental Health Program Manager for Highline Public Schools, to describe what a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) is, how students, parents, and educators can get MTSS in every local education agency (school district, charter public school, and tribal compact school) across Washington state, and what she would do to transform our education system if there were no budgetary constraints.

 

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COVID-19 Resources

By Lauri Hennessey, League of Education Voters CEO

 

Dear Friends,

By now, many of you have heard that all public and private schools in Washington state will be closed at least through April 24th due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Here at League of Education Voters, our mission is to put students first, “working with families, educators, and leaders to build a brighter future for every Washington student.”

How do we do that in today’s uncertain world?

First of all: we should not dispute the decisions made by Governor Inslee, Superintendent Reykdal, and local school districts. These decisions are agonizing and not made lightly. We all need to support our leaders in education.

However, there are severe costs. No matter what we do, kids are going to fall behind in the next month because of this health crisis. This will be the first time some school districts try to offer distance learning to all students, and we don’t know how it will work, especially for those in grades PreK-5. The ramifications in all of our schools will be huge.

Beyond that, there are other impacts on the families we represent. Many parents cannot afford to take six weeks (or more) away from their jobs, don’t have the ability to work from home, or cannot take extended sick leave. What happens to these parents? And what about the kids who rely on free and reduced-price meals? How will extended closures affect our most vulnerable children?

With all of these realities, I find it reassuring to try to focus on what we CAN do. The League will be a clearinghouse of information. Here are a few resources to start off: Read More

2020 Supplemental Budget Proposal Side-By-Side

By League of Education Voters Policy Team

The Washington state House and Senate have released their 2020 supplemental budget proposals. The 2020 supplemental budget makes adjustments to the 2019-21 biennial budget that will impact the remainder of the 2019-21 biennium, which ends in June 2021. The amounts below are in addition to funds that have already been appropriated in the 2019-21 budget. These amounts do not reflect changes in funding due to changes in caseload. Read More

Podcast – David Lewis on Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS)

In our podcast, we interview policymakers, partners, and thought leaders to spotlight education policies, research, and practices so that together we can create a brighter future for every Washington student.

In this episode, League of Education Voters Communications Director Arik Korman asks David Lewis, Director of Behavioral Health Services for Seattle Public Schools, to describe what a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) is, how students, parents, and educators can get MTSS in every local education agency (school district, charter public school, and tribal compact school) across Washington state, and what he would do to transform our education system if there were no budgetary constraints.

 

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2020 Legislative Town Hall Meetings

This weekend, many legislators across Washington state will host town hall meetings in their communities. Below is a list of scheduled meetings, organized by legislative district. If you know of town hall meetings that are not listed below, please contact us at info@educationvoters.org. If you don’t know your legislative district, you can find out here.

One of League of Education Voters’ top legislative priorities this session is lifting the funding cap on special education enrollment. If you are able to attend a town hall meeting with your legislator(s), please help us advocate for lifting the cap. Here are some talking points you can use. Thank you for supporting Washington students! Read More

2020 Legislative Priority: Fair Local K-12 Funding

By League of Education Voters Policy Team

In the 2020 legislative session, League of Education Voters will prioritize policies to help lay the foundation of an equitable educational system that provides what students need, when and where they need it.

We believe students come first, and we are dedicated to designing an equitable education system that serves all students based on their strengths, supports their needs, and provides the resources they need to be successful.

We are dedicated to designing an equitable education system that serves all students based on their strengths, supports their needs, and provides the resources they need to be successful.

We are committed to working to close gaps experienced by historically and systemically underserved students — including students of color, students in poverty, students qualifying for special education services, students learning English, and students impacted by trauma.

We believe this will lead to all students experiencing greater success and reaching their full potential.

BACKGROUND

Student at South Shore PreK-8

Historically, local levies have provided about one quarter of K-12 education funding in Washington state, amounting to $2.6 billion in school year 2018-19. In 2018-19, districts raised an average of $2,395 per student in local levy funding, with levies ranging from $86 per student in some districts to over $4,000 in others. This difference is driven not only by the levy rates, or amounts that district voters agree to tax themselves, but also by the property values in a district.

For example, in 2018-19 one district passed a levy of about $1.13 per $1,000 of assessed value and raised $198 per student, while a higher property value district passed a similar levy of $1.14 per $1,000 of assessed value to raise $4,381 per student. (1)

WHAT HAS CHANGED?

As part of the legislative solution to fully fund basic education, several changes were made to how much districts can raise through the levy system, the most recent of which went into effect in January 2020. The two biggest changes to the levy system included changing the formula used to calculate how much districts can raise through levies and placing a lower overall limit on the amount districts can raise per student. (2) Read More