Principal Bills Keep Moving
The second week of the session is coming to an end. Almost 1,000 bills have been introduced so far, with more on the way. The highlight of the week was that our two bills related to principal and assistant principal employment were both passed out of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Committee. SB 5085 and SB 5175 now move on to the Rules Committee, where legislators on that committee will decide if and when to bring it to the full Senate for a vote.
SB 5175 would allow districts to provide principals with multiyear contracts (up to three years), and this passed without any amendments. SB 5085 has several key components to support principal employment, but section (5) related to employment applications was removed during the committee process.
Several other bills that I’m tracking were heard this week, and we had some fantastic principal voices in committee hearings. Thanks to Mandy Jessee, Principal at Fisher Elementary in Lynden, and Lyon Terry, Assistant Principal at Mount View Elementary in Highline, for providing testimony related to HB 1015, which would remove the current required paraeducator assessment. Thanks to Woody Howard, Principal at Ben Franklin Elementary in Vancouver, and Patrick Vincent, Principal at Union Gap K-8 School, for providing testimony about SB 5257, which would require schools to offer 45 minutes of recess. The committee ran out of time to hear from everyone who signed up to testify, so their comments were submitted in writing, but this is still a really important way to share our position.
Thanks also go to Lacey Griffiths, Assistant Principal at RA Long High School in Longview, who was prepared to give testimony on HB 1207, which would change “emergency expulsion” to “emergency removal.” But I completely failed to mention that she needed to register more than one hour before the hearing began, so she had to submit her testimony in writing (which is still super important!) My apologies, Lacey! I now have a post-it note on my desk that says, “Remind people to sign up for testimony more than one hour before the hearing!”
Day/Week on the Hill
Our AWSP Day and Week on the Hill begins next Monday, January 30th. A group of principals is headed to Olympia for the day to meet with their legislators and attend the House and Senate Education Committee hearings that afternoon. We also have a legislator reception that evening. Some principals are making appointments with their legislators for virtual meetings that week.
Our advocacy efforts need all of our voices to contribute to the process. There are many different ways (big and small) that you can get involved in these efforts. Your participation can be as easy as doing an action alert to email your legislators or signing in support of a specific bill. Or, if you feel really passionate about a specific bill, we would love to have you testify. Reach out and let me know. It takes all of us to make an impact!
The major focus on education funding this week was with regard to increased support for special education. The Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee heard two bills related to special education funding. SB 5031 focuses on increasing the safety net, and SB 5311 would increase the multipliers and the enrollment cap. Another bill in the House, HB 1436, also would increase the multipliers, but this bill would remove the enrollment cap entirely. Advocates are pushing for the Legislature to do much more for special education funding than was proposed in Governor Inslee’s budget.
Coming Next Week
For the full list of bills being heard next week, check out my complete bill tracking document. The main bills that concern us next week include several related to Dual Credit programs, an update to High School and Beyond Plans, and school meals.
There have also been some bills introduced this week that we will want to pay close attention to. Those include HB 1479 regarding restraint and isolation and HB 1308 regarding a new graduation performance pathway.
Thank you for all that you do to support students and staff–and for checking in on our advocacy efforts. If you have questions or comments or want to get involved, please reach out to me.