Over the last weekend, Senate republicans published their McCleary solution in the form of SB 5607. This innovative and comprehensive 122 page bill covers a variety of important topics including funding, levies, compensation, insurance, teacher quality, and paraeducators in the classroom that it takes some time to understand how it will work. Since they are largely throwing out the current funding formulas for nearly everything and going to a simple, per student funding formula, it is to say the least, radical.
Last night the Senate Ways and Means committee heard SB 5607. My testimony is at 1 hour 10 minute and 35 seconds of the 2 hour hearing but I recommend you listen to the staff presentation for a verbal presentation of what the bill intends to do along with Senator’s questions and staff answers to how it would work. Though Senate republicans are proposing to replace a complicated funding system with a simpler system, it is just a little bit scary to leave what we know and go to something so different.
Here are some of my testimony points:
- What we like is the state will be fully funding classified employee services (5,000 FTE are currently funded by local levies)
- It allows more flexibility to hire paraeducators as teachers
- The housing allowance includes classified employees (you would be saddened to know how many housing allowance bills have been entered over the years that only included teachers.)
- It implements the 3:1 employees with family to employee only insurance premium payment and requires pooling to be used to implement the 3: 1 ratio. What that means is that families would pay $3 for their insurance for every $1 an employee only pays. I testified that there should be a 3 year delay so that in the first year it would be 5:1, second year, 4:1, and third year, 3:1.
- I asked that they use the Seattle CPI (consumer price index) as their inflation index rather than the National IPD (implicit price deflator).
- I asked that they include an insurance inflation factor that reflected premium increases.
- I asked that they include a paraeducator development program along with the programs they are proposing to address teacher issues with pay and compensation.
- Finally, I suggested that the requirement that school expenses for compensation not go beyond 80% will harm classified employees since teachers will consume whatever capacity school districts have to spend money.
Here is the nearly 2 hour hearing…