Legislative Update | Feb. 26 - March 1, 2024

Roz Thompson, Governmental Relations & Advocacy Director, AWSP
Mar 01, 2024

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Let It Fly

Pictured above: Eli Scott, from Colorado State University, lets the discus fly.

Spring is on its way as you can tell from this crazy weather week with a little snow, a lot of rain, and a bit of wind. Bulbs are coming up, and baseball and fastpitch teams are gearing up for the season ahead. Track and field athletes shift to their outdoor season where they can really let things fly with the discus and javelin. This week, I’m featuring one of Drew’s best buddies from Colorado State, Eli Scott, who absolutely crushed it last week in the final indoor meet of the season.

The beginning of March also means that we are closing in on the end of this year’s short legislative session. Today, March 1, is the last day to consider (or pass) opposite house bills (except initiatives and alternatives to initiatives, budgets and matters necessary to implement budgets, differences between the houses, and matters incident to the interim and closing of the session). March 7 is scheduled to be “Sine Die” – the last day of the legislative session.

Work goes on behind the scenes to reconcile the two different budgets from the House and the Senate. The Senate would increase total state spending by $1.9 billion and the House would increase total spending by $2.2 billion. Of that, about $450 million is expected to go to K-12 education for both maintenance level spending and new policies and programs. The major difference in education funding between the two budgets is that the House is prioritizing increased funding for MSOC and the Senate is prioritizing funding for increasing the prototypical funding model for paraeducators. We expect to see the final budget sometime next Tuesday or Wednesday.

For a detailed look at the current differences in education spending between the House and Senate budgets, see this chart shared by Dan Steele from WASA. Thank you, Dan.


The legislature held hearings this week on three of the six voter-backed initiatives that are up for consideration this year. Initiative 2109 would repeal the state’s new capital gains tax which could mean that the state collects $1 billion less in tax per year. This could impact K-12 funding. In a Seattle Times article, Rep. Steve Bergquist said, “The state must fund basic K-12 education, so a repeal in November would mean that legislators would target early learning and higher education programs, as well as nonbasic spending on K-12, to trim spending of proceeds from the tax.” 

A joint hearing with the House and Senate Education Committees on Initiative 2081 titled “Concerning parental rights relating to their children's public school education” was held on Wednesday. Legislative staff gave an excellent overview of the initiative and how it connects to current laws related to parental rights. Check out this chart to see how at least 90% of issues in this initiative are already covered by current law. Some education advocates weighed in as “other” and stated that they absolutely support parental rights but are concerned that the vagueness of this initiative may cause confusion. The initiative passed out of both committees this morning and will go to the floor of each house for a vote.

Read more about the initiatives in this article from the Seattle Times. 

Below is a re-cap of the major items in K-12 spending for this session. The total amounts are still being adjusted through amendments to the bills or in budget negotiations.

House Budget 

Special Education Enhancements ($32.3 million NGF-O 2023-25; $32.3 million Total 2023- 25; $114.9 million 4-year NGF-O) Funding is provided for an increase to the funded enrollment limit for students eligible for special education from 15 percent to 17.25 percent, as required in HB 2180. Additionally, funding is provided for cohorts of special education teacher residents to participate in training, coursework, and classroom co-teaching with mentor teachers. 

Maintenance, Supplies, and Operating Costs ($43.4 million NGF-O 2023-25; $43.4 million Total 2023-25; $94.7 million 4-year NGF-O) Per pupil rates for maintenance, supplies, and operating costs (MSOCs) are increased by $21 beginning in the current 2023-24 school year, as required under HB 2494. The categories of MSOCs increased are utilities and insurance, instructional professional development, and security and central office. 

Community Eligibility Provision ($41.2 million NGF-O 2023-25; $41.2 million Total 2023- 25; $90.4 million 4-year NGF-O) Funding is provided for additional reimbursements to schools participating in the Community Eligibility Provisions program for school meals not reimbursed at the federal free meal rate. 

Transportation Actuals for 2023-24 ($76.9 million NGF-O 2023-25; $76.9 million Total 2023-25; $165.8 million 4-year NGF-O) Appropriations are increased to reflect updated 2023-24 school year transportation allocations calculated by OSPI in February of this year, which are above the estimated amounts assumed through January.

Senate Budget

Transportation Actuals – $76.9 million NGF-O (2023-25); $88.9 million NGF-O (2025-27) Funding is provided to account for OSPI allocation of transportation funding to school districts. 

K-12 Staffing – $49.6 million NGF-O (2023-25); $129.8 million NGF-O (2025-27) Funding is provided to modify the prototypical school staffing model and to implement SB 5882 (prototypical school staffing) which increases staff allocations for paraeducators, office supports, and non instructional aides. 

CEP Expansion – $45 million NGF-O (2023-25); $45 million NGF-O (2025-27) Funding is provided to reimburse additional school districts required to participate in the federal Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) pursuant to Chapter 7, Laws of 2022 (SHB 1878). The funding will support schools not eligible for the full federal reimbursement rate. 

Transportation – $23.1 million NGF-O (2023-25); $25.6 million NGF-O (2025-27) Funding is provided for adequate and predictable student transportation as proposed in SB 5873. For McKinney-Vento homeless students, $400 per student is provided to 32,086 students. Funding is provided in the amount of $170,000 for OSPI to collect student expenditure data, $6 million is provided to the OSPI for supplemental transportation allocations, and $4 million is provided to OSPI to allow contract bus drivers and related staff to opt-in to benefits. Funding is provided to OSPI in the amount of $130,000 to implement SB 6031

Special Education – $13.5 million NGF-O (2025-27); $36 million NGF-O (2025-27) Funding is provided to increase the 15 percent enrollment limit on state special education funding to 15.6 percent.

The House partly honored our request for additional funding for the principal intern grant program and added $223,000 to the current amount of $477,000 for a total of $700,000. The Senate did not add additional funds for the grant. This was well short of the $1 million we requested be added. Neither side added funding to support current building principals so we continue to impress upon the legislature the critical nature of this request.


I’ve taken the bills from my bill tracking list and put them here by category for your information. A few of these won’t make it past Friday’s deadline and a few others may not make it to the ultimate finish line next week. The restraint and isolation bill did not make it out this session, but additional funds may be put in the final budget for continued professional development. The financial literacy bill did pass out of the Senate last night, but with an amendment that removes the half-credit graduation requirement. 

Budget Bills

  • HB 1248 Pupil transportation
  • HB 2180 Increasing the special education cap
  • SB 5852 Concerning the special education safety net
  • SB 5950 Supplemental operating budget

Capital Projects

  • HB 1044 Providing capital financial assistance to small school districts
  • HB 2089/SB 5949 Supplemental capital budget

Health and Safety

  • HB 1618 Concerning the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse
  • HB 1956 Addressing fentanyl and other substance use prevention education
  • HB 1999 Concerning fabricated intimate or sexually explicit images and depictions
  • HB 2256 Addressing the children and youth behavioral health work group
  • HB 2260 Establishing civil penalties for the unlawful sale or supply of alcohol to minors
  • SB 5790 Concerning bleeding control and medical equipment in schools
  • SB 5804 Concerning opioid reversal medication in high schools
  • SB 5853 Extending the crisis relief center model to provide behavioral health crisis services for minors
  • SB 5891 Designating trespassing on a public school bus as a felony offense
  • SB 5906 Implementing a statewide drug overdose prevention and education campaign
  • SB 6079 Making juvenile detention records available to managed health care systems
  • SB 6109 Supporting children and families by clarifying the child removal process in circumstances involving high-potency synthetic opioids

High School/Graduation

  • HB 1146 Notifying high school students and their families about available dual credit programs and any available financial assistance
  • HB 2004 Providing early registration at institutions of higher education for military students
  • HB 2025 Modifying placement and salary matching requirements for the state work-study program
  • HB 2110 Reorganizing statutory requirements governing high school graduation
  • HB 2214 Permitting beneficiaries of public assistance programs to automatically qualify as income-eligible for the purpose of receiving the Washington college grant
  • HB 2236 Expanding and strengthening career and technical education core plus programs
  • HB 2441 Establishing a pilot program eliminating college in the high school fees for private not-for-profit four-year institutions
  • SB 5670 Permitting 10th grade students to participate in running start in online settings
  • SB 5904 Extending the terms of eligibility for financial aid programs
  • SB 5953 Concerning financial aid grants for incarcerated students
  • SB 6053 Improving equitable access to postsecondary education with education data sharing


  • HB 1879 Naming the curriculum used to inform students about tribal history, culture, and government after John McCoy (lulilaÅ¡)
  • HB 1915 Making financial education instruction a graduation prerequisite and a required component of public education
  • HB 2331 Modifying requirements for public school instructional and supplemental instructional materials
  • SB 5462 Promoting inclusive learning standards and instructional materials in public schools


  • HB 1228 Building a multilingual, multiliterate Washington through dual and tribal language education
  • HB 1239 Establishing a simple and uniform system for complaints related to, and instituting a code of educator ethics for, conduct within or involving public elementary and secondary schools
  • HB 1277 Improving the consistency and quality of the implementation of the fundamental course of study for paraeducators
  • HB 1377 Posting of approved courses and providers of continuing education
  • HB 1889 Allowing persons to receive professional licenses and certifications regardless of immigration or citizenship status
  • HB 1950 Concerning the public service loan forgiveness program
  • HB 1985 Providing a benefit increase to certain retirees of the public employees' retirement system plan 1 and the teachers' retirement system plan 1
  • SB 5180 Adopting the interstate teacher mobility compact
  • SB 5647 Providing temporary employees necessary information about school safety policies and procedures
  • SB 5882 Increasing prototypical school staffing to better meet student needs (paraeducators)


  • HB 2335 Concerning state-tribal education compacts
  • HB 2381 Increasing eligibility for economy and efficiency flexible school calendar waivers
  • SB 5883 Concerning the burden of proof for special education due process hearings

Here is my complete bill tracking list if you’d like to check out all of the bills.

Take Action!

Send a Quick Action Alert

Here are links to three quick action alerts that will send an email to your legislators after you enter your own name and address. The first one is to ask that the Legislature commit additional available revenue projected in the February revenue forecast to help stabilize school district budgets and address the fiscal crisis facing our school districts. The next is to request support for a budget proviso that would add more funds to the principal intern grant and to provide regional support for current building leaders. The last one allows you to write your own message. Try these now…they are so easy! Scroll down the page until you see the Action Alert you would like to send.

Be a Principal Partner with a Legislator

If you would like to commit to communicating more regularly with your legislators, let me know. Email meif you would like to be a “Principal Partner with a Legislator”.

Invite Your Legislator to be the “Principal for a Day”

We had a very successful pilot project a few weeks ago when Senator Claire Wilson shadowed Principal Terrie Garrison at Fir Grove Elementary in Puyallup and when Representative Clyde Shavers shadowed Principal Jenny Hunt at Broad View Elementary in Oak Harbor. We plan to hold this event again in October, 2024. If you would like a legislator to shadow you next fall, send me an email.

Meet with Your Legislators

It’s really easy to set up meetings either in-person or via Zoom with your legislators. They should prioritize meeting with you because you are their local constituents. Here is a link for their contact information and it’s also helpful to include their legislative assistants in your email to request a meeting. It’s possible to meet with them now during the legislative session, but it will probably be a short 15-minute conversation. During the interim, they should have more time to meet with you. Either option works because it’s all about developing a working relationship with our policymakers.

Participate on our Advocacy Advisory Council

We have over 50 principals and assistant principals who belong to our AWSP Advocacy Advisory Council. During the legislative session, we meet weekly on Zoom to discuss the bills being heard that week and to strategize about how we, as an association, will respond. During the interim, we meet occasionally via Zoom to stay in touch about various issues, meet with legislators about bills that they are considering, and develop our legislative platform. Email me to get involved at this level. 

Below are additional links to find out more about these bills and to contact your own legislators. Legislators care very much about hearing directly from their constituents. When we weigh in as an association, it is helpful and important, but having many of you reach out directly with a short email to legislators can be much more powerful.  

Important Links:

Get Involved

Many thanks for all that you do for students and staff. Please reach out if you have questions or comments. Thank you!

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