OLYMPIA — January 27, 2020 — Ten years ago, the Legislature implemented a statewide formula to determine how much state funding each school serving students in grades K–12 should receive to pay for staff, materials, programming, and other items.
Last year, the Legislature tasked the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) with convening a workgroup of K–12 education stakeholders to make recommendations for updating the formula to meet current needs.
The Staffing Enrichment Workgroup recommended the Legislature increase the levels of various school staff, ensure all school staff are provided professional development on key topics like cultural responsiveness, and increase flexibility for local schools while maintaining accountability. All recommendations would be phased-in over six years.
This week, OSPI put the Workgroup’s recommendations forward in Senate Bill 6615, which is sponsored by Senator Lisa Wellman, the Chair of the Senate Early Learning and K–12 Education Committee.
“The current staffing values in the state’s funding formula are largely based on a study done in 1975,” said Chris Reykdal, Superintendent of Public Instruction. “The Legislature asked us to pull together this workgroup because they know changes to the funding formula are vital for our students, educators, and communities.”
“Educators continue to tell us that students are coming to school with more mental, emotional, and behavioral health needs than ever before,” Reykdal continued. “The Workgroup took that into consideration by asking the Legislature to prioritize their investments there first.”
The bill first asks the Legislature to provide funding for more counselors, nurses, social workers, psychologists, principals, librarians, paraeducators, family involvement coordinators, and other building support staff.
Then, the bill calls for a reduction in the number of students per classroom, aligning with Initiative 1351 passed by Washington’s voters in 2014.
Finally, the bill would require the Legislature fund additional professional learning days for all school staff until all staff are provided 10 days of learning.