By Angela Parker, League of Education Voters Policy Analyst
When an educator earns a superintendent position, they know their job description does not just put them between a rock and a hard place – they will be between a rock, a hard place, and a fire. They hold responsibility for the current education and future educational prospects of the children in their school district. Simultaneously, parents, community members, and their staff expect their leadership in translating and implementing statewide directives and policy changes. And, of course, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) holds them accountable to agency and legislative directives and outcomes goals.
This is why most superintendents develop a refined skill set – the ability to collaborate with a wide range of community and education leaders, the passion to advocate for their students and communities on the state level, deep and broad engagement with education research, an engaging and thoughtful political persona, and long term project management and planning abilities. This is also why we knew we needed to gather as much feedback as possible from superintendents across the state, particularly on their understandings of current and emergent issues in our K-12 schools.
We sent a survey request in November 2017 to 295 superintendents in Washington; 57 (19%) returned our survey, giving these results an 80% confidence level with an 8% margin of error. Our survey over-represents districts with 500 to 4,999 students, and under-represents districts of 499 students and less. Respondents hail from all areas of the state, but disproportionately represent rural districts.
Aside from demographic details, our survey was limited to three main questions:
- How urgent are issues such as achievement/opportunity gaps, student supports, teacher supply, college readiness, etc., in your district?
- Is your district experiencing new or different educational issues?
- What should we work on in the next legislative session?
This post summarizes our broad findings from the survey, and we commit to working on these issues with superintendents and educators across Washington.
By Daniel Zavala, League of Education Voters Director of Policy and Government Relations
Remember that time last year when I went over everything “You Need to Know about the McCleary School Funding Agreement?” Well, it’s time for a refresh. The 2018 legislative session was all about McCleary 2.0, or what we can call, what to do when the Supreme Court says you’re still not quite there yet.
Many of us were expecting a quiet session where little would be addressed in education due to budget constraints. Two major events occurred: The Supreme Court’s November Order saying the legislature was still out of compliance and a Revenue Forecast that far exceeded most predictions regarding unanticipated future revenue collections. The end result: Another year of legislators in the 11th hour hanging ornaments (i.e. piecemeal policies) on an omnibus policy tree (i.e. Senate Bill 6362) that likely created more questions than answers. My prediction: we will be back next year sweeping up the broken ornaments. And while we may fixate on the 11th hour scrambling, it is important to reflect on the successes we saw this year in expanded eligibility with early learning and college financial aid, increased funds for special education and the State Need Grant, and raised awareness of social emotional and mental health needs.
By Kelly Munn, League of Education Voters State Field Director, and Jacob Vela, League of Education Voters Senior Policy Analyst
Last month, communities across Washington state voted on local levies to continue funding for enrichment programs and capital projects at district schools. Here are the election results and my analysis.
154 out of the 295 school districts in Washington state ran an Enrichment levy, and 150 passed. 42 levies passed because of simple majority, which is a 50-59.9% yes vote. Those districts that passed in the 50-55% range were mostly in the Puget Sound area.
24 school districts ran a bond, and 11 passed. 11 of the failed bonds would have passed with simple majority for bonds. Bonds currently pass only with a yes vote of 60% or greater.
60 school districts ran capital levies, and 51 passed.
6 school districts ran transportation levies, and 5 passed.
150 school districts passed an Enrichment levy. It does not yet appear that the confusion around the new McCleary funding is effecting the overall passage rate across the state. 150 out of 154 school districts passed. Superintendent Jim Kowalkowski explains what passage of the levy means for his Davenport School District: “We are excited that many of the programs we offer for students (College in the High School, Satellite Skills Center, Knowledge Bowl, All-day Preschool, Project Lead the Way (STEM) courses, Choir and Drama Programs, etc., will continue to be a part of our educational offerings. We are so grateful to have such a supportive community!” (more…)
The Legislature made significant changes to the K-12 education funding structures in 2017—infusing more than $7 billion in state money into the system over four years through House Bill 2242. As the fiscal impacts of the changes became clearer, legislators proposed a range of changes to address the concerns that districts have voiced around HB 2242.
As the legislature made changes in 2018 to their plan to fully fund education, League of Education Voters feels it is important that the changes should be focused on:
Direct investments based on student need. Any changes to the funding system should drive resources to districts based on the needs of their student populations.
Eliminate disparities between districts. Modifications made to the structures put in place in HB 2242 should address unintended impacts that created (and recreated) inequities between high-property value/low-poverty districts and low-property value/high-poverty districts.
Attracting & retaining educators. State funding formulas should ensure that districts across the state are provided enough resources to attract and retain a diverse educator workforce.
Increase transparency in funding system. Increased access to data on spending and student outcomes is essential to ensure the effectiveness and equity of the new systems and structures put into place.
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By League of Education Voters Policy Team
The Washington state Legislature passed a state budget agreement (Senate Bill 6032) that adds court-ordered K-12-school funding and also gives a one-time property-tax cut. The 2017-19 supplemental operating budget plan aimed at satisfying the long-running state Supreme Court school-funding order known as the McCleary decision. Below is a summary of how the budget impacts Early Childhood Education, K-12, and Higher Education.
Early Childhood Education
Legislators prioritized increasing home visitation capacity, and Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) provision to homeless families in this budget. Funds are also provided to improve overall early childhood education (ECE) system capacity, including Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) implementation, with $700K for a degree program to produce more educators, and $403K to strategize ways to engage the Washington business community and to educate ECE providers. Additional allocations will go toward supporting nurse consultations, mental health interventions, and trauma informed service provision.
- $2.3M—Home visiting expansion +275 families & to equalize rates
- $1.6M—Working Connections Childcare 4-month grace period for homeless families
- $1M—Implementation of the new Department of Children, Youth, and Families
- $74,000—Implement House Bill 2861 (trauma-informed child care)
- $150K—Home visit Medicaid facilitator – maximize federal dollars collected for home visiting
- $700K—ECE degree program at Western on the Peninsula, will produce 75 BAs/year
- $240K—“Childcare Collaboration Task Force” created by House Bill 2367: Dept. of Commerce to convene a task force to study the impact of child care affordability and accessibility on the workforce & businesses, to report findings & recommendations by the end of 2019
By Nicole Portillo
Nicole Portillo is a junior at the University of Washington Tacoma Campus. A College Success Foundation alumna, she now works as a CSF Navigator, peer mentoring incoming CSF scholars. She also works as a sales advisor for Costco in Tacoma. In addition to the State Need Grant, Nicole receives financial aid through the UW Tacoma Undergrad Tuition Exemption and the College Bound Scholarship.
The State Need Grant has helped me overcome many obstacles in my life. Without the grant, I wouldn’t have been able to attend school, let alone be able to manage to pay for school.
I am a DACA recipient, which already creates many barriers when searching for scholarships because you must be a U.S. citizen to even be eligible, so I really don’t get much access to scholarships due to my status. My parents and loved ones have been my support to push through anything that comes up in my life, because every problem has a solution. The State Need Grant gives me the advantage to pursue my dreams, and provides a boost in life that everyone needs.
By Kelly Munn, League of Education Voters State Field Director
There are schools all across this state that are making dreams come true for their students.
I had the opportunity to visit one of these schools.
New Horizons is an alternative school in Pasco. They serve juniors and seniors who are on a different journey towards graduation, perhaps a slower journey, perhaps a more thoughtful journey, perhaps more zig and zag, alternative.
The students come from all kinds of backgrounds, but what they have in common is resilience, life experiences that have matured them, and despite so many obstacles, they are determined to meet their life goals. This school is helping to get them there.
The staff surrounds the students with a sense of belonging, a sense that they contribute to their education community, that each of them matters.