2020 Legislative Priority: Supportive and Safe Schools

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.

WHY STUDENT SUPPORTS AND SCHOOL CLIMATE ARE IMPORTANT

Students at Summit Atlas Public School

Students learn most effectively when their school feels safe, inclusive, supportive, and respectful (1). Creating positive school climates and providing student supports can mitigate the impact of trauma (2), mental health needs (3), and other non-academic factors that affect a student’s ability to engage in learning (4). It is instrumental in closing opportunity and achievement gaps in our system and improving student outcomes.

The creation of supportive and safe schools includes strategies such as Social-Emotional Learning (SEL), tiered systems of support, partnerships with families, partnerships with community-based organizations, and providing access to mental health services, among others. Between 50-80% of students in need of mental health services do not have access (5), and schools are likely the first point of access for many students that do seek services (6,7). School climate reform strategies have been shown to decrease school violence and bullying, increase academic achievement, and improve the school experience for students, staff, and families (8). The implementation of universal SEL programs have also been shown to result in significant academic gains (9,10) as well as a robust return on investment of $11 for every $1 spent (11). Read More

Podcast – RULER Curriculum Creator Dr. Marc Brackett

RULER Creator Dr. Marc Brackett - League of Education VotersIn 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 interviews Dr. Marc Brackett, Founder and Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and lead developer of RULER, an evidence-based approach to social and emotional learning that has been adopted by nearly 2,000 pre-K through high schools across the United States and in other countries, including many school districts in Washington state, such the Seattle school district where it was first introduced at South Shore PreK-8, a school in South Seattle that is a key partner of League of Education Voters.

 

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Local Levies – Frequently Asked Questions

By League of Education Voters Policy Team

Across Washington state on February 11, many communities voted on local levies to continue funding for enrichment programs and capital projects at district schools. Here are frequently asked questions about those levies.

1. What is a local levy?

A local property tax passed by voters of a school district that generates revenue for the local school district. All money generated by school district levies goes directly to the school district to pay for enhancements to the state-funded basic education. By voting for a local levy, voters are voting for an additional property tax in their district.

2. How many school districts have a local school levy?

289 of the 295 school districts had a local levy in 2019.

3. What is basic education?

Basic education is the educational program that the state is responsible for funding.

  • The state legislature defines the program of basic education and is required by the constitution to amply fund it. The state defined program of basic education is the minimum that districts are required to provide students — districts may offer additional programming and services with local funds. Currently, the program of basic education includes the number of hours and days of school that districts must offer, academic standards, and specialized instruction for students qualifying for special education, English language support, and students below or above standard academically.
4. What is a levy rate?

A levy rate is the amount of property tax that voters approved to be assessed for every $1,000 of property value. A levy rate of $1.00 means that for every $1,000 of property value, the owner of the property will have to pay $1.00 in taxes.

  • E.g., If a homeowner has a house valued at $200,000 and the voters passed a levy at a $1.00 levy rate, that will cost the homeowner $200 annually in property taxes.
5. Why do districts generate different amounts of levy dollars for passing the same levy rates?

A levy rate of $1.00 in a district with an average property value of $200,000 will generate $200 per household in levy funding, but a district with a $1.00 levy rate and an average property value of $600,000 will generate $600 per household for the same level of property tax. Districts can have the same levy rate, but raise very different amounts of money because the average property value of a district varies widely across Washington.

6. What is the levy lid (cap) that started in January 2020?

The levy rate a district can pass is now capped at $2.50 per $1,000 of assessed value, or a levy rate that would generate $2,500 per student – whichever would result in a lower levy rate.

  • E.g., If a district can raise $2,500 per student with a levy rate of $0.80 per $1,000 then their levy lid is $0.80 because they have reached their maximum per-student amount in levy revenues.
  • E.g., If a district with a levy rate of $2.50 generates $1,000 per student in levy revenues, their levy lid is $2.50 because they have passed a levy at the maximum rate allowed under state law.
7. What restrictions are placed on the use of levy money?

Levy money can’t be used to pay for basic education, but districts are otherwise free to spend the money as they wish. For example, by law, levy funds can’t be used to enhance state-funded base teacher salary for teachers performing basic education duties, but levy money may be used for hiring additional staff or paying teachers for additional duties, such as after-school programming.

  • Currently, a majority of levy dollars are spent on staff compensation. Many districts provide higher salaries for teachers through local contracts for additional time, responsibility, or incentives (TRI). However, many of the responsibilities within these contracts could be considered basic education duties, and often all teachers within a district receive this additional pay. Historically, this practice was common across the state because the state did not provide adequate salary to attract and retain teachers. The new state funding for teacher salaries is intended to address this issue.
  • Levy funds have also been used to supplement other areas of basic education that have been underfunded by the state. Currently, many districts indicate that they still need to use local levy dollars to provide special education services to students that are not fully funded by the state.
8. What impact are the changes in the local levies having on teacher salaries?

Historically, over half of levy funds have been used to supplement staff salaries. With the recent funding changes, state funding has increased substantially for most districts, while local levy funds have been reduced. The increase in state funding for teacher salary was intended to ensure the state was paying the cost of hiring teachers who provide basic education and to free up local levy money to enable districts to provide more educational supports and enrichments for students, which may also include additional staff.

The way districts deploy their levy resources hasn’t changed since the state increased funding, so districts continue to use significant levy resources to increase staff salary above state-funded levels. All additional salary and staffing, such as additional counselors, above state-funded levels must be paid for by districts. Many districts and local bargaining units negotiated salary increases in the fall of 2018 above the state-funded levels, however districts have fewer levy resources available to pay for these increases. So even though most districts had a net influx of education funding, the combined levy and state resources didn’t meet the added costs of the new contracts in some districts.

9. What is Local Effort Assistance (LEA)?

Because of differences in property values, some districts can pass a levy with a tax rate of $0.80 and raise $2,500 per student, while other districts can pass a tax rate of $1.50 and raise only $107 per student. To compensate for the difference in ability to raise money through local levies, the state supplements districts who are able to raise less than $1,550 per student with a max levy of $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value by providing additional funding called Local Effort Assistance (LEA). LEA is funded to ease the property tax burden of districts with low property values. It is not funded in a way that makes equitable resources available to districts.

10. How do districts qualify to receive LEA funding?

Districts qualify for LEA if they satisfy the following conditions:

  1. The district would generate less than $1,550 per student with a levy rate of $1.50 in 2020.
  2. Pass a local levy.

Note: Districts are not required to pass their maximum levy in order to receive LEA funding, but they must have an active levy in order to receive LEA funding.

11. How much LEA support will eligible districts receive in 2020?

The amount of LEA funding a district is eligible to receive is determined by how close they come to passing a levy of $1.50 or higher.

  • E.g., A district passing a levy of $0.75 or 50% of the $1.50 threshold would be able to receive 50% of their maximum LEA.
  • E.g., A district passing a levy of $1.50 or 100% of the $1.50 threshold would be able to receive 100% of their maximum LEA.

District LEA funding can range from $1 - $1,440 per student depending on district property wealth.

12. Can all districts generate the same amount of local levy funding?

No. The maximum funding a district can generate through local levies is $2,500 per student, except for Seattle Public Schools which has a local levy cap of $3,000 per student. Due to differing property values and the structure of levy and LEA laws, not all districts are able to raise the maximum of $2,500 per student in levy funding, even if they pass their max levy rate of $2.50. If districts pass their maximum allowed levy and receive their maximum LEA, if eligible, total available enrichment resources range from $1,550 - $3,000 per student across the 295 districts in Washington state for 2020.

13. How much were districts able to raise under the old levy system?

Under the levy system prior to 2019, 205 districts had a levy lid that was capped at an amount equal to 28% of combined state and federal funding amounts. 90 of the 295 school districts in Washington had levy lids ranging from 28.01% to 37.9%.

  • The average per student district levy was $2,329 in 2017 with district levy lids ranging from $1,600 to $8,000 per student. The disparity between district levy lids resulted from a combination of using district funding levels as the basis for levy lids, and the fact that some districts had levy lid percentages that were more than 30% higher than other districts.
14. Did the Supreme Court require Washington to reform the school levy system?

The Court said that the state must meet its paramount duty to fund basic education so districts don’t have to spend levy dollars to provide a basic education for their students. The Court did not require the state to make any changes or reforms to the current levy system, only that the state must pay for the full cost of basic education.

15. What is the ‘levy swap?’

The levy swap increased the amount of state funding directed at education. It increased the state property tax rate by $0.81 per $1,000 of assessed value, while making changes to the local levy lid that had the impact of decreasing the local tax rate for most districts. This also reduced the maximum amount districts can raise locally, beginning in 2019.

All districts saw a net property tax increase for calendar year 2018. This is because the state property tax increased while existing local levies stayed the same. When the new levy rules took effect in January 2019, the net tax impact on districts and net change in combined state and local funding is determined by what levy rate districts passed for 2019 and beyond.

The levy swap increases the amount of state property tax collected for education and decreases the amount of local property tax collected by school districts.

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2020 Legislative Priority: Special Education 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.

HOW DOES FUNDING FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION WORK IN WASHINGTON?

Students at Summit Atlas Public School - League of Education Voters
Students at Summit Atlas Public School

Districts receive both state and federal funding to provide educational services and supports to students with disabilities, with state funding providing the biggest portion of funding. There are several factors that determine how much special education funding a district receives, but the three factors that most impact the level of state funding for special education for school districts are:

  • Special Education Enrollment: Each student regardless of disability or type of service received will generate the same amount of funding per student for a single district, but districts are capped at generating special education funding for a maximum of 13.5% of overall student enrollment. For example, if a district has a special education enrollment of 15.0% they will only generate special education funding for 13.5% of students.
  • Two-tiered Funding model: Starting in 2020-21, a two-tiered funding model will go into effect that will provide different levels of funding depending on what portion of the school day a student receiving special education services spends in a general education setting. Students spending 80% or more of their time in a general education setting will generate a slightly higher funding amount than students spending less than 80% of their school time in a general education setting.
  • District Teacher Salary Funding: The amount of funding each student generates differs by district and can vary by more than $1,000 per student across the state. There are several factors that go into each district’s per student funding amount, but the most significant is a district’s state-funded teacher salary amount. The higher a district’s state-funded teacher salary the more special education funding per student they will generate. (1)

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2020 Legislative Priority: Special Education

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.

WHAT IS SPECIAL EDUCATION?

Students at Summit Atlas Public School - League of Education Voters
Students at Summit Atlas Public School

With the passage of federal legislation in the 1970s, students with disabilities were guaranteed legal rights to access a public education that would accommodate their specific learning needs. Prior to guaranteeing the right to access education, it was common practice for students with disabilities to be actively excluded from public education settings. Federal legislation was intended to ensure that all students have the ability to access the public education system through the program of special education. (1)

The program of special education serves over 150,000 students across 295 Washington school districts. Special education provides services and supports to students with disabilities to help students access a “free and appropriate education.” In order to qualify for special education services, students must have their school performance “adversely affected” by one of the following qualifying conditions: (2) Read More

2020 Legislative Priority: Early Childhood Education – Reimbursement Rates

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.

WHY REIMBURSEMENT RATES ARE IMPORTANT

Preschool students at South Shore PreK-8 - League of Education Voters
Preschool students at South Shore PreK-8

High-quality early childhood education can ensure that kids start school kindergarten ready, and increase test scores throughout their elementary and high school education (1). These benefits are particularly important for kids from low income families, who face more income-related stress and are more likely to have all parents working. Currently, only 30.5% of kindergarteners from low-income households enter school fully kindergarten ready – nearly half the rate of kindergarten readiness for their non-low income peers (2). Read More

2020 Legislative Priority: Early Childhood Education – ECEAP

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.

WHY WE SUPPORT THE EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

Preschool students at South Shore Prek-8 - League of Education Voters
Preschool students at South Shore Prek-8

When Washington state five-year-olds arrive in kindergarten each year, they are beginning an educational journey on which some of them are already behind their classmates. Our state has a 26-point kindergarten readiness gap – only 30.5% of kindergarteners from low income families are fully school ready, compared to 56.5% of their non-low income peers (1).

To achieve readiness for all Washington children, some kids need more support, earlier. Washington has initiated a high-impact, research-proven early childhood education intervention program: the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) (2). Read More

2020 Legislative Priority: Early Childhood Education

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.

DATA

Preschool students at South Shore PreK-8 - League of Education Voters
Preschool students at South Shore PreK-8

90% of human brain growth happens from birth to age six, but 98% of our state’s educational investments happen after kids reach age five.

Increasing our state investments in the crucial ages from birth to age five supports improved educational outcomes throughout a child’s life. High-quality early childhood education has positive impacts on kindergarten readiness (1), third grade reading levels (2), performance on tests throughout elementary school and to the end of high school (3), high school graduation (4), and enrollment and persistence in postsecondary education (5). The benefits also encompass a wide array of positive societal outcomes, including less engagement with the criminal justice system, and increased earnings and family stability as an adult (6). Home visiting – an early childhood education strategy in which a nurse or other professional coordinates services to families in their home – decreases the likelihood of abuse or neglect (7) while improving family economic self-sufficiency (8). Read More

Podcast – The 2020 Washington state Teachers of the Year

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 the 2020 Washington state Teachers of the Year about their teaching philosophy, their greatest accomplishment in the classroom, how they would make teaching better in Washington state, what advice they would give a new teacher, and what motivation they still carry with them from their first day in the classroom. We were honored to interview:

Amy Campbell, 2020 Washington state Teacher of the Year and Educational Service District 112 Regional Teacher of the Year from the Camas School District

Analisa McCann, 2020 Northeast Educational Service District 101 Regional Teacher of the Year from the Central Valley School District

Lisa Summers, 2020 Capital Region Educational Service District 113 Regional Teacher of the Year from the Tumwater School District

Kathryn Lebuis Hartman, 2020 Olympic Region Educational Service District 114 Regional Teacher of the Year from the Port Angeles School District

Reid Sundblad, 2020 Puget Sound Educational Service District 121 Regional Teacher of the Year from the Highline School District

Rebecca Estock, 2020 Educational Service District 123 Regional Teacher of the Year from the North Franklin School District

Malia Renner-Singer, 2020 North Central Educational Service District 171 Regional Teacher of the Year from the Cascade School District

 

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Podcast – 2020 Washington state Teacher of the Year Amy Campbell

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 2020 Washington state Teacher of the Year Amy Campbell, a special education teacher at Helen Baller Elementary School in the Camas School District, how best to handle transitions for students who need special education services, why inclusion is so important, and how she would change Washington’s education system.

 

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