The 2013 Legislature finally ended after two special sessions and a legislative session that was nearly as long as a school year! Governor Inslee signed the budget (SB 5034) on June 30th, just hours away from the end of the biennium and a possible shut down of state government.
Although much of the debate this year surrounded whether or not to raise revenues, in the end the Legislature passed a bill raising revenue through a change in the state estate tax and a change in the taxation of telecommunication companies. A temporary surcharge on the service business and occupation tax and a temporary beer tax were both sunsetted as planned. Rising revenues from an improving economy helped provide necessary funds to meet obligations.
One of those obligations, thanks to the McCleary decision, was K-12 education. Coming out as the big winner, just over $1 billion additional money was put back into K-12 education (in addition, higher ed tuition rates were frozen). This money begins the process of fully implementing the prototype school funding method and other education reforms passed in 2009 -- including teacher-librarians, library materials and technology. The library materials funding is part of what is known as MSOC (materials, supplies and operating costs) which received a huge influx of funds this biennium -- $374 million. WLMA has prepared information and documents to help teacher-librarians advocate in their districts for money coming into their libraries.
Other education funding increases are as follows:
- LAP expansion – $143M
- Transportation increase – $132M
- K-3 enhancement – $104M
- Additional instructional hours – $97M
- All-Day Kindergarten expansion – $90M
- Counseling – $24M
- Bilingual – $19M
- Teacher/Principal Evaluation - $15M
- Struggling schools – $10M
- Levy Equalization increase – $8M
The increase in counselors stems from an increased increased focus on parent engagement and dropout prevention.
Other bills that passed which have impact on teacher-librarians include EHB 1450 - regarding assessments in public schools and HB 2043 -- which, once again, temporarily suspends the COLA increases passed in Initiative 732. Another bill, ESSB 5946, provides, among other things, a focus on reading and early literacy. It requires OSPI to assist school districts in supporting reading and early literacy for K-4 students -- including professional development, screening & diagnostic assessments, and research-based family involvement strategies. Improvement strategies could include summer and after school programs in addition to more intense, in school reading programs. Elementary teacher-librarians need to immediately go to their districts and get involved in this! A report with links to all of these bills plus the budget is attached.
Another interesting piece of the budget is money to support the TEALS program (Technology, Education & Literacy in Schools) competitive grants. According to the website, TEALS is a grassroots employee driven program that recruits, mentors, and places high tech professionals who are passionate about digital literacy and computer science education into high school classes as part-time teachers in a team teaching model where the school district is unable to meet their students' Computer Science needs on its own. TEALS work with committed partner schools to eventually hand off the CS courses to the in-service teachers we team teach with so that the school will be able to maintain and grow a sustainable CS program on their own.More information can be found on this by visiting http://tealsk12.org. It sounds like something WLMA members should get involved with if you aren't already -- particularly at the secondary level.
The stage is set now for WLMA to help increase dollars going into libraries for materials, technology and supplies. We can lead the way on K-4 reading and literacy. Our study over the next year will set us up for additional, library specific funding during the second wave of McClearly funding in 2015.