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.

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

2020 Supplemental Budget Summary

By League of Education Voters Policy Team

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. 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

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

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

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)

Read More

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