It’s not just the promise of green beer that has policy makers and advocates alike skipping through the almost-poked-up tulips; it’s that session ended on time and with an agreement many policymakers believe will satisfy the Supreme Court’s mandate in the McCleary decision. To get a sense for how it went, you can peek at our blog and our progress trackers. You might also get a feel from how the school district leaders are looking at things or check out our analysis from our last “LEVinar.” If you love context, you’ll love this national overview of education funding.
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.
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.
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
$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
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.
More than 20,000 State Need Grant eligible students attending Washington higher education institutions are not currently receiving a State Need Grant because the program has not been
fully funded by the legislature.
The legislature established the State Need Grant (SNG) fifty years ago to increase access to higher education for low-income students. Although the SNG annually funds almost 70,000 students, the underfunding of SNG left over 20,000 eligible low-income students unserved in each of the last seven years. (1)
Over ten years ago Washington established the College Bound Scholarship (2) that provides financial aid to students from income eligible families who sign a pledge in middle school that they will earn a GPA of 2.0 or higher in high school and have no felony convictions. (3)
Both programs cover a portion of the cost of attendance leaving students cover the rest of the costs via family contributions, loans, or jobs. (4) As of 2012, the average SNG award covered 12% to 35% of the cost of attendance. On average, students cover between 14% and 28% of the cost through loans with the rest of the costs of attendance being paid though other types of aid or family and/or student generated sources.
Low-income kids get the least exposure to family reading time, weekend day trips, preschool, summer camp, and after-school programming – adding up to a 6,000 hour learning gap by 6th grade.(1)
High-quality expanded learning opportunities, such as after-school and summer programs, correlate with decreased academic gaps, improved behavior and social-emotional skills, fewer school absences, and lower dropout for all student groups. (2) High-quality apprenticeships and internships for high schoolers help students connect their schooling to important workforce skills. (3)
The Washington Legislature made initial investments in the Expanded Learning Opportunities Quality Initiative, which provides professional development, technical assistance, and a quality measurement system to ensure that programs offered to Washington youth are high-quality and effective. An additional $2.25M investment to expand the ELO Quality Initiative can increase the number of programs able to participate by 330— and increase access to high-quality programs for more than 11,000 students across the state.
The passage of House Bill 2242 in 2017 will inject an additional $7 billion in state funding into our K-12 system.
In order to determine whether the new investments are distributed equitably and improve student outcomes, we will need more robust means to track school spending and results. We will also need to examine the new structures and mechanisms put into place to ensure they do not recreate inequities in our funding system.
Opportunity: New mechanisms to track spending are created in both HB 2242 and in the new federal ESSA legislation.