Legislative Update | 2023 Sine Die Edition

Roz Thompson, Governmental Relations & Advocacy Director, AWSP
Apr 26, 2023

legislative update header graphic

That's a Wrap

The House and Senate pounded their gavels one last time on Sunday, April 23, as they declared “Sine Die” for the 2023 Legislative session. This Latin term means “without a day,” and it is used to describe an adjournment when the date to reconvene is not specified and when the Legislature intends to leave town for the last time. However, there is a bit of a caveat to that statement since the Legislature may come back for a special session to address the Blake Decision. More on that later.


The Saturday before “Sine Die,” the budget conference committee released its agreed-upon final operating budget (SB 5187) of $69.3 billion for the next two years. According to Senate Ways and Means Chair Christine Rolfes, “This budget reflects the collaboration of many Washingtonians. It is the biggest investment in public education since McCleary.” The Senate Democrats further explained that “the budget includes $2.9 billion in total new spending for K-12 education. This includes the continued rollout of the past biennium’s investment in nurses, counselors, and social workers in schools, lowering the financial burden on school districts. Special education will receive a significant new investment of $417 million. An additional $91 million will create more slots for children eligible for Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program.”

Representative Steve Bergquist, Vice Chair for the House Appropriations Committee, agreed and said that the budget makes “historic investments” for K-12, early learning, and higher education.

The Senate Republican perspective from leader John Braun is that “the high level of learning loss suffered by Washington’s school children is the equity issue of our time because it has increased the learning gap, leaving children of color and those in lower-income families further behind. I’m very disappointed that the $70 million allocated in the Senate budget proposal to close that gap was absent from the final budget. That’s a huge disservice to our kids. I am glad, however, that the budget includes $800 million over four years to enhance special education programs. Republicans have fought for five years for more special education funding because the kids receiving those services deserve better than they’ve been getting.” Republicans in both the House and the Senate were disappointed that funding was not included for family advocate positions related to special education students.

We thank the Legislature for investing in K-12 education, early learning, and higher education.

Key budget items include increases in a variety of programs based on the budget summary document linked here.

K‐12 Salaries and Health Benefits ($544.3 million in 2023‐25; $1.56 billion 5‐year total)

Budgeted inflation for salaries is 3.7% in the 2023‐24 school year and 3.9% in the 2024‐25 SY. SEBB health benefit rates are increased to $1,100 per employee per month in the 2023‐24 SY and $1,157 per employee per month in the 2024‐25 SY. These amounts are in addition to $734 million in 2023‐25 and $2.3 billion over five years for salary inflation at the maintenance level.

Special Education Enhancements ($371 million in 2023‐25; $817.3 million 5‐year total)

Funding is provided to increase excess cost multipliers, raise the funded enrollment limit, support inclusionary practices, and lower the safety net threshold as required under HB 1436.

Free School Meal Expansion ($46.5 million in 2023‐25; $83 million Federal FY2023 and 2023‐25; $144.6 million 5‐year total)

Funding is provided to support expanded access to free meals through the federal Community Eligibility Provision pursuant to HB 1878 from 2022 and HB 1238 from 2023.

Special Passenger Transportation Reimbursement ($26.0 million for 2023‐25)

Funding for special passenger excess cost reimbursement is provided for school districts with a demonstrated need for funding beyond the amounts provided through STARS for special passengers. SB 5174 did not pass this year, but this additional funding is provided.

Dual Credit Enrollment Enhancements ($9.7 million in 2023‐25; $21.3 million 5‐year total)

Funding is provided to increase the Running Start combined maximum enrollment cap from 1.2 FTE to 1.4 FTE.

College in the High School Fees ($23.8 million in 2023‐25; $47.9 million 5‐year total)

Funding is provided for a new funding structure for College in the High School courses as provided in SB 5048. Beginning September 1, 2023, institutions of higher education must provide enrollment and registration in College in the High School courses at no cost for students in grades 9–12 at public high schools.

Transition to Kindergarten ($48.6 million savings 2023‐25; $41.8 million Federal 2023‐25; $56.4 million 5‐year total savings, $114.0 million is appropriated in a new program)

Funding for TtK enrollments previously included in General Apportionment are transferred to the new TtK budget program. Funding is sufficient to support the projected caseloads for participating school districts, charter schools based on the February 2023 caseload forecast.

Federal Reappropriations for Schools ($1.1 billion Federal 2023‐25)

Remaining funding from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESEER) fund, the Governor's Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund, and other emergency federal funding for schools appropriated in the 2021‐23 biennium are reappropriated in the 2023‐25 biennium. Reappropriations include remaining ESSER subgrants to districts, non‐subgrant ESSER and GEER funding for learning recovery, free school meal programs, Transition to Kindergarten, community‐based organizations, mastery‐based learning, and other items. I am waiting for more information on what the impact of this is on ESSER projects that were already in the works through OSPI.

Capital Budget

A big thank you to Dan Steele, Assistant Executive Director for WASA, for details on the Capital Budget. Dan writes, “For K–12 education, the final Capital Budget provides $871.5 million. The majority of this appropriation is for the School Construction Assistance Program (SCAP). SCAP receives $588.2 million in the new two-year budget.” For Dan’s complete “Sine Die” update, read his latest This Week in Olympia - Sine Die Edition. There is much more information there related to capital projects for small schools, skill centers, distressed schools, safety upgrades, and more.

Additional funding for education programs such as science, dual language, financial literacy, plant-based school meals, homeless student stability, and other areas are listed beginning on page 545 of this agency-level detail report.

Our team was thrilled to see that the Outdoor School for All program received $20 million each for the next two years. Many more students will get to experience overnight camp, which is fantastic. For more information, check out Outdoor Schools WA.

Bills that Passed


SB 5175 | School Principal Contracts

This bill extends the maximum term of a written contract between a school district board of directors and a principal from one to three years. A contract for a duration of more than one year may be offered if the principal has:

  • been employed as a principal for three or more consecutive years;
  • been recommended by the superintendent as a candidate for a two or three-year contract because the principal has demonstrated the ability to stabilize instructional practices,
  • received a comprehensive performance rating of level 3 or above in their most recent comprehensive performance evaluation, and
  • met the school district's requirements for satisfying an updated record check. A contract between a board of directors and a principal for a term of three years may not be renewed before the final year of the contract.

As this bill passed through the House, we worked with Representative Monica Stonier (D–Vancouver) on ideas that would help set the context for when longer contracts may be offered to principals. We believe that the conditions the Legislature included in the final bill make sense and point to very important pieces of leadership development. As an association, we are focused on ways to “Grow, Support, and Sustain” building leaders. Our system needs to pay attention to the growth of leaders through robust internship experiences, mentoring programs, professional development, and evaluation processes.

This bill references each of those pieces, and we have resources that can help with the conversations that may now occur between administrative teams as they potentially take the step of offering some principals these extended contracts. How can district administrators use the AWSP Leadership Framework or the School Leader Paradigm documents as resources to support conversations and actions related to principal contracts? What else does our system need to put in place to support leaders?

We have already begun conversations with our colleagues at WASA about the implications of this bill. We look forward to partnering with them as we think about ways to better support all school leaders in their work.

HB 1015 | Paraeducator Requirements

This bill replaces the ETS ParaPro assessment and says the Paraeducator Board must adopt one or more assessments that meet a rigorous standard of quality and can be used to demonstrate knowledge of, and the ability to assist in, instruction in reading, writing, and mathematics, as well as set a passing score for each assessment adopted.

HB 1210 | Recording of School Board Meetings

This bill requires all school district board meetings to be audio recorded, subject to exceptions for executive sessions and emergencies, with recordings kept for at least one year.

Student Safety and Support

HB 1207 | Responding to HIB/Discrimination

This bill will change the term "emergency expulsion" to "emergency removal" and permit certain students to request that their records use the new term. It would also require OSPI to develop a model student handbook that includes, among other things, a complaint procedure related to harassment, intimidation, bullying, and discrimination.

HB 1230 | Department of Health Info on School Websites

This bill requires school districts to post a prominent link on their homepage, and the homepage of each school within the district, to the DOH information about safe storage of drugs and weapons and to make the information accessible through various communication means.

HB 1238 | School Meals

This bill phases in “Universal Meals for All” by increasing funding for school meals. OSPI reports that almost 200 additional schools will be able to provide universal meals for students over the next two years.

SB 5257 | Elementary School Recess

This bill requires 30 minutes of recess and encourages recess before lunch. It also includes language that discourages withholding recess for disciplinary or academic reasons. Here are some resources for school leaders about best practices related to recess.

HB 1622 | Supporting Students Experiencing Homelessness

This bill supports grants focused on providing educational stability and promoting housing stability for students experiencing homelessness. It also encourages the development of collaborative strategies between education and housing partners.

HB 1701 | Concerning Institutional Education Programs

This bill establishes that OSPI is responsible for the delivery and oversight of basic education services to justice-involved students who are under the age of 21 and served through institutional education programs in facilities not under the jurisdiction of DSHS or the Department of Corrections (DOC).

SB 5365 | Preventing the Use of Vapor and Tobacco Products by Minors

This bill increases monetary penalties the Liquor and Cannabis Board may impose against cigarette and tobacco products retailer licensees and vapor products retailer licensees for violations of provisions related to selling or giving cigarette, tobacco, or vapor products to persons under 21. It also modifies sanctions and fines for purchasing, possessing cigarette, tobacco, or vapor products by persons under 18 to participate in up to four hours of community service and referral to a smoking cessation program at no cost.

SB 5599 | Supporting Youth Seeking Protected Health Care

This bill says that if a licensed youth shelter or homeless youth program knows a youth is away from home with permission, that shelter or program has a duty to contact the parents or guardians unless a compelling reason exists. Compelling reasons include when a minor is seeking or receiving protected health care services. Mandated reports have a duty to report child abuse and neglect. After receiving a report from an overnight youth shelter or other licensed organization that provides services to homeless youth that a minor child who is seeking or receiving gender-affirming treatment or reproductive health care services is being served by the shelter or organization without parental permission, DCYF must: offer to make referrals on behalf of the minor for appropriate behavioral health services; and offer services designed to resolve the conflict and accomplish a reunification of the family.

HB 1346 | Purple Star Award

This bill establishes the Purple Star designation to recognize school districts that demonstrate educational and social-emotional supports to students of military service members.

SB 5127 | Clarifying School Districts’ Ability to Redact Personal Information

This bill says that the personal information of a child enrolled or who has been enrolled in a school district contained in any records, including correspondence, is exempt from public disclosure requirements.

Student Learning

HB 1550 | Transition to Kindergarten

This bill renames Transitional Kindergarten as the Transition to Kindergarten (TtK) program, and states that this program is not part of the state's program of basic education. It directs OSPI to adopt rules for the administration and the allocation of state funding for this program and specifies minimum requirements for these rules. It provides a funding formula for the program using certain portions of the prototypical school funding model and requires certain data to be reported. Current TtK programs will remain in place for the 2023-24 school year, but changes would come in the following school year.

SB 5072 | Highly Capable Students

This bill establishes new requirements for the identification of students who may be eligible for highly capable services, including conducting universal screenings once in or before second grade, and again in or before sixth grade.

SB 5355 | Sex Trafficking Prevention Education

Beginning no later than the 2025-26 school year, school districts, charter schools, and state-tribal education compact schools must offer instruction in sex trafficking awareness and prevention. The instruction may be offered beginning in grade seven, but each student must be offered the instruction at least once before completing grade 12. The instruction may, at the discretion of the school or school district, be integrated into a relevant course or a course may be repurposed to include this instruction. OSPI must review curricula related to the awareness and prevention of sex trafficking. To the extent practicable, OSPI must make available in the library of openly licensed courseware, curricular resources related to the awareness and prevention of sex trafficking.

SB 5065 | Encouraging Bone Marrow Donation

School districts, charter schools, and state-tribal compact schools that serve students in any of the grades 9 through 12 are encouraged to offer instruction in awareness of bone marrow donation to students. Beginning with the 2023-24 school year, instruction in awareness of bone marrow donation may be included in at least one health class necessary for graduation. This instruction must be an instructional program provided by the National Marrow Donor Program or other relevant nationally-recognized organizations. OSPI must post a link on its website to this instructional program.

High School

HB 1308 | Performance Pathway

This bill says that school districts may offer students the opportunity to meet graduation pathway requirements by completing a performance-based learning experience through which the student applies knowledge and skills in a real-world context, providing evidence of applying state learning standards to ELA and math standards (this was amended from the original version that allowed students to choose two of the core areas).

SB 5243 | High School and Beyond Plans

This bill revises High School and Beyond Plan (HSBP) requirements and requires OSPI to facilitate the transition to and adoption of a common online platform for HSBPs. This will take a few years to develop and it will require school districts to provide access to an adopted universal platform within two years of platform development.

HB 1536 | Withholding High School Diplomas

The authority for school districts to withhold the diploma of a student who is responsible for loss or willful damage to property of the school district, a contractor of the district, an employee, or another student is limited to property loss or damages that exceed $1,000. School districts are required to release a withheld student's diploma at the earlier of: five years from the date of the student's graduation; or until the amount owed is less than $1,000. Community service performed by the student in lieu of payment of monetary damages must be credited at the applicable local or state minimum wage, whichever is greater. Information about withheld diplomas must be published and maintained in a location on the school district website that facilitates easy access to the information. When publishing required information about withheld diplomas on their websites, school districts must include information about the preceding five years, rather than three years, and must annually update the data from the prior reporting year to reflect the permitted release of diplomas.

HB 1658 | Work Experience for High School Credit

Beginning in the 2023-24 school year, public high school students aged 16 years and older may earn up to two elective high school credits through paid work experience, provided specified requirements are met.

HB 1013 | Regional Apprenticeship Programs

This bill directs OSPI and ESDs to establish the Regional Apprenticeship Preparation Pilot Program with five program sites located statewide.

SB 5617 | Equivalency Agreements Between Skill Centers and Districts

An interdistrict cooperative agreement between all participating school districts in a skill center must stipulate that any approved state and local equivalency courses offered by the host district must be honored as equivalency courses by all school districts participating in the skill center. The list of approved local and state equivalency courses must be provided by the host district to participating districts on an annual basis by September 1st.

SB 5593 | Student Data Transfer

Public institutions of higher education in Washington must enter into data sharing agreements with OSPI to facilitate the transfer of high school student directory information for the purpose of informing Washington high school students of postsecondary educational opportunities available in the state. Federally designated minority-serving institutions and Community and Technical Colleges are also included.

HB 1232 | College Bound Scholarship

For College Bound Scholarship-eligible students enrolling in a postsecondary education institution for the first time beginning with the 2023-24 academic year, a C grade point average is required only for those students seeking direct admission to a public or private four-year institution of higher education.

HB 1316 | Expanding Access to Dual Credit Programs

Running Start programs will now be funded up to a combined maximum enrollment of 1.4 FTE.

SB 5048 | Eliminating College in the HS fees

This bill requires institutions of higher education to provide enrollment and registration in College in the High School courses at no cost to students in grades 9 through 12 at public high schools.

SB 5583 | Improving Young Driver Safety

The Department of Licensing must develop a comprehensive implementation plan for the expansion of the current driver training education requirement to obtain a driver's license for persons between the ages of 18 and 24. The target date for implementation of the new driver training education expansion is July 1, 2026.


It is truly amazing to read about and witness the very complicated work of our Legislature. The staff who work there are to be commended for their dedicated work each session. For a complete list of education bills that passed this session, here is my final bill tracking list.

Bills Outside of Education

Here’s a good summary of a broad section of bills that passed this session from Crosscut. As they write, “Washington legislators passed sweeping new restrictions on firearms purchases, ended exclusionary zoning laws, and streamlined permitting processes to ease the state’s deepening housing crisis, and wrote new state budgets that boost public worker pay, education funding, and an ambitious slate of clean-energy projects.”

Carry-over From Previous Legislative Sessions

As a reminder, here is a list of some programs that passed due to previous legislation, along with links to related OSPI web pages. Work on these programs continues to evolve in our schools and districts.

Interim Planning and Continued Advocacy

As I mentioned earlier, there may be a special session to address the Blake Decision (a Washington Supreme Court case from 2021 that said the felony statute related to possession of a controlled substance was unconstitutional). The temporary rule in place makes unlawful possession of a drug a misdemeanor crime on the third occurrence, with treatment options for the first two offenses. This rule expires on July 1, 2023. Legislators were working on a new possession statute (SB 5536), but the House failed to pass the conference committee agreement. If a special session to address this does not take place, the temporary law will expire, and local jurisdictions will pass their own laws about how to handle these cases. It was a fascinating moment to watch unfold on the House floor.

As we head into the interim, there will be continued conversations on bills that did not pass and on ideas for new bills. For example, there was an addition to the budget to create a technical assistance manual related to best practices for restraint and isolation. Principals will be included in the development, and HB 1479 will no doubt return next session.

At AWSP, we will continue to work to explain the current concerns that many of you have related to working conditions, contracts, and other employment issues. Many of our ideas in SB 5085 had broad support, and some of them need further explanation and understanding. We are committed to working with you and all of our education partners to find ways to grow, support, and sustain building administrators.

Get Involved

A HUGE thank you to the members of our Advocacy Advisory Council. We meet weekly during the legislative session each year, and their input and opinions are incredibly important to our efforts.

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. If you have questions or comments or want to get involved, please reach out to me. Thank you!

  • dual credit
  • Budget
  • Funding
  • advocacy
  • Special Education
  • Advocacy & Legislation
Back To Top