The 2014 Legislature adjourned sine die last night -- on time.
Interestingly, the major accomplishment of the on time adjournment was that they adjourned on time. That seemed to be the commitment at the beginning of this session after 4 years of multiple special sessions going into June or November/December special sessions. The budget that passed was truly just a supplemental budget with about $155 million in additional spending -- much of that in the K-12 arena. This year, however, is simply the calm before the storm of next year's budget when the Legislature is forced to address the $5 billion funding requirement in K-12 education forced on them by the McCleary Supreme Court decision.
Unfortunately we did lose our bill SB 6105. Like many other bills this session, it just died due to lack of interest. There was no opposition, we had addressed Rep. Hunter's concerns with some amendments. Leadership in the House simply did not make it a priority for passing and they ran out of time. Both sides seemed unwilling to work late nights or weekends this year (which they usually do) which left very little time to pass a lot of bills. Only around 200 made it to the Governor's desk -- probably the smallest number in the 25 years I have been lobbying.
Attached are details of some education bills that passed. Not many did. The biggest bill, ESSB 6552, implements the 24 credit hour graduation (including increases in math and science credits) requirement beginning for students graduating in 2019 while providing districts more flexibility in the 1180 hours requirement. The bill also eliminated the state's culminating project requirement and includes credit waivers in Sec 203 for students based on unusual circumstances. In eliminating the culminating project, they had to include language from our school library statute because the school library media program has reference to the culminating project. I tried to get the rest of our bill amended onto this section but the controversy surrounding ESSSB 6552 was so great that no legislators were willing to make additional amendments.
6552 also includes the CTE equivalency language from the Governor's office. This section would have technical work groups develop curriculum frameworks for a selected list of career and technical courses that would have content that would also qualify the course for dual credit equivalency in math or science. OSPI will develop the list and if it is approved, districts must grant the academic equivalency and allow students access and credit.
Another bill that passed, SSB 6163, establishes an "Expanded Learning Opportunities Council" which will advise policy makers regarding comprehensive expanded learning opportunities focusing on how to reduce summer learning loss. We will need to be very involved in this council's activities -- I would suggest that perhaps we ask OSPI to appoint someone from WLMA to discuss how school and public libraries can be involved. I will get more information on this when it is available.
The budget, as it passed, includes about $58 million more put into Materials, Supplies and Operating Costs for the student funding model. The total allocation for "Library Materials and other Supplies" will go from and average FTE amount in 2013/14 of $176.56 to an average FTE amount of $203.16 for the 2014/15 school year. Increases in the technology funding allocation are occurring as well to help districts cover costs associated with Smarter Balance implementation from $77.46 per FTE this year to $89.13 per FTE in 2014/15. Here is a link to the passed budget -- Education is in the 500 sections starting on p. 181 -- http://apps.leg.wa.gov/documents/billdocs/2013-14/Pdf/Bills/Senate%20Passed%20Legislature/6002-S.PL.pdf.
I would encourage WLMA members to go to the districts immediately with proposals to help bring resources to the school libraries but also to help use the extra money to reduce impact on libraries from the Smarter Balance testing. Perhaps getting information to your district about how to use mobile devices for the tests so the libraries are not closed.
The legislature did not pass any legislation to help the state maintain its federal ESA waiver because the WEA opposed having student growth data required to be part of teacher evaluations. This means a loss of about $44 million in federal dollars for education. In addition, no legislation passed enacting required teacher COLAs.
Next year will be a big year for education because of the McCleary decision. We will need to make sure we are actively involved in working with candidates and legislators over the interim to ensure they remain educated and supportive of school libraries and the need to: a) change our statutory definition; b) increase the teacher-librarian prototype school allocation to 1.0 FTE for each level; c) separate the MSOC for "Library Materials" from the "other supplies." The "Legislator in Your Library" program must be a priority if we want to get this done!