By now it shouldn’t be news to a paraeducator in the state of Washington. In case you haven’t heard, change is in the air. I’m not talking about seasonal change, like leaves changing color or the temperature dropping; although that would be true.
No, the change I am talking about is more of a sea-change or maybe even a paradigm shift. One that will forever change the course of public education in every community in Washington. Melodrama aside this is big and the change has already begun. While the direct effects have yet to be felt at the local level, it is safe to say that by September 1, 2018 we will begin to feel them.
Earlier this month the Paraeducator Board met for our second full-board meeting and the actions we took set the wheels in motion to have several key parts of the Paraeducator Bill (HB 1115) in place by the beginning of the 2018-19 school year.
First, we approved the Basic Paraeducator Standards of Practice originally developed by the Paraeductor Workgroup. These standards will guide the board’s work in developing the four-day fundamental training and 10 day professional development for the Paraeducator General Certificate. These trainings will be piloted by several districts beginning next school year. After the pilot period the General Certificate will become a requirement for all new and current paraeducators (if the Legislature provides funding for the training days). If they don’t provide the funding, then training will be voluntary.
Second, we approved the Special Education and ELL Standards of Practice developed by the Paraeducator Workgroup. These standards will also be used to develop the 20 hours of professional development for these two voluntary subject matter certificates.
Third, we approved the Teacher and Administrator Professional Learning recommendations of the Paraeducator Workgroup. These recommendations will be used to create training modules made available to teachers and administrators for their professional development.
Finally, we approved the “Paraeducators: What We Do Matters” training modules based on the recommendations of the subcommittee review. These online modules will become a component for meeting the training requirements for the General Certificate. The modules are already active so feel free to explore them (click here and create an account) and provide feedback to the Para Board (click here).
There is one concern that I have heard expressed by Paraeducators at every opportunity I have had to meet with them. “Will the ‘Initial Hiring Standards’ apply to paraeducators already employed by a district.” The short answer is “YES.”
ALL paraeductors in the state of Washington will be required to meet the Initial Hiring Standards on September 1, 2018. Please check with your human resources department about whether you meet the hiring standards. What we need to remind you is that these standards are the same standards that have been in place for Title I paraeducators, Title I schools, or Title I school districts. I confirmed this with the OSPI consultant that has been part of the development of the paraeductor standards from the beginning of this process. Dr. Adams explained that the Legislature was very clear that there was NO “grandfathering” allowed. So, if you are not sure that you will meet this standard September of next year, do not wait. Talk to your HR department, talk to your union representative, talk to your co-workers; find out what you need and how you are going to accomplish it. My chapter has been telling its members for years that this was coming. My chapter was also just informed that our district will be making a formal announcement to our members by January. If need be, talk to your district about doing the same thing.
Change can be difficult, even good change. Remember, you can be part of the change.
Change is in the air…are you ready?
The Frank J. Warnke legislative internship is an exciting opportunity for any PSE member interested in politics and the legislative process. This one-of-a-kind experience gives PSE members the opportunity to participate in the legislative process for five days at the state capitol in Olympia. Eligible PSE members are selected by the legislative council to participate as legislative interns.
This is it. After several months of behind the scenes work by OSPI, the newly appointed Paraeducator Board convened this week. We have our work cut out for us thanks to the guidance provided by the recommendations of the Paraeducator Work Group, the one PSE’s own Doug Nelson participated in. This is what we have been waiting and hoping for going back many years. This is the recognition that paraeducators specifically, and by extension all education support professionals, have been asking for.
A little reminder on how we got where we are. Way back in May, seems like a lifetime ago now that school is back in session, the Paraeducator Bill was finally signed into law. The culmination of at least six years of hard fought effort by stakeholders across the state. The new law directed OSPI to create the Paraeducator Board for the purpose of taking the work group’s nine recommendations and writing the policies to implement them. The new nine-member board, including PSE members Laura Rogers and myself, was appointed in July and will meet every other month for the next two years. During that time we will be taking input from all stakeholders with an interest in the education of children in Washington, which includes PSE members.
It is critical that paraeducators take an active role in helping to inform the work of the Paraeducator Board. The three paraeducaors on the board cannot know all the needs and interests of Washington’s paraeducators and their diverse communities. Your input and participation in the process will be invaluable. At the very least follow the progress of the board so that you can share with the members of your chapter. The Paraeducator Bill is for us and those who will come after us. This will be our legacy to the next generation of Washington students and the professionals who support them.
You can follow our progress, contact the board for public comment, and view the proceedings live via webinar. In keeping with Washington sunshine laws all board meetings and materials are open and available to the public.
Get involved – We Own It!
Today, Governor Jay Inslee signed the historic McCleary school funding bill. Amidst the details of state property tax, increased salary allocations, changes to levy collections, the solution also includes a new insurance system for K-12, the School Employees Benefits Board (SEBB).
Under SEBB, basic education employees who work over 630 hours per school year will receive full state insurance funding. For the thousands of classified school employees drowning in health insurance premiums, SEBB will provide much-needed and long overdue relief. All insurance plans, employee and employer insurance payments will be decided by the SEBB beginning in 2020. Additionally, K-12 insurance funding will equal that of state employees.
“Health insurance is a critical issue for classified school employees,” said PSE President Charlotte Shindler. “With premiums rising dramatically year after year, many of our members spend most of–if not all–their entire paycheck on insurance coverage. For the thousands of classified school employees struggling with health insurance premiums, SEBB will provide affordability, stability, and long overdue relief.”
This victory for our state’s 60,000+ education support professionals wouldn’t have been possible without the advocacy and lobbying efforts of PSE members. Your calls to the legislative hotline, letters sharing your personal health insurance stories, and conversations with your elected representatives were vital to this success. Thank you for stepping up and having your voices heard!
For more information on SEBB and other details of the McCleary solution, click here.
It’s time for affordable health insurance. Call 360-902-4111 and tell Gov. Inslee to sign HB 2242 & School Employees Benefits Board (SEBB) into law.
The legislature’s plan to fully fund education (House Bill 2242) includes a new insurance system for K-12, the School Employees Benefits Board (SEBB). Under SEBB, basic education employees who work over 630 hours per school year will receive full state insurance funding. For the thousands of classified school employees drowning in health insurance premiums, SEBB will provide much-needed and long overdue relief.
Governor Inslee has until Wednesday to sign HB 2242, which includes SEBB, into law.
When signed into law, all insurance plans, employee and employer insurance payments will be decided by the SEBB beginning in 2020. Additionally, K-12 insurance funding will equal that of state employees.
For more information on SEBB, click here.
Governor Inslee now gets his chance to approve the hard fought McCleary solution after the House and Senate easily approved HB 2242. House vote: 67=26. Senate vote: 32-17.
In quick order the House and Senate have both approved the 2017-19 operating budget. House vote: 70-23. Senate vote: 39-10. Governor Inslee is expected to sign the bill long before the deadline of midnight tonight.
Throughout this legislative session, and for the last 5 years, Senator Hobbs has championed classified employee insurance benefits. Most recently, and during the special sessions, he has asked budget and McCleary solution negotiators to take care of one problem: affordable, quality health insurance for all classified employees. With the introduction of SEBB (school employee benefit board) in the McCleary solution bill (HB 2242), his patience and determination to help classified employees was finally rewarded.
What you don’t realize is that he has withstood withering attacks that would have scared any normal politician away from the issue.
Congratulations Senator Hobbs and thank you for standing strong for classified school employees!
Just a couple minutes ago, legislative leaders released the budget. At that site you can click on different displays of the budget documents. Plenty of good news!
If I find more details in the 617 page budget, I will update in a future blog.
Legislative leaders have just released their McCleary school funding solution. Amidst the many details of state property tax, increased salary allocations, changes to levy collections, the solution includes full implementation of a new insurance system for K 12; a system very similar to the insurance system provided state employees. A new board, the SEBB (school employees benefit board) will be appointed by the Governor by September 1, 2017. Starting January 1, 2020, all insurance plans, employee and employer insurance payments will be decided by the SEBB. As big as that is, the bigger issue is that basic education employees who work 630 hours or more per school year will receive full state funding for insurance. This has been a crusade by PSE (and me) for the 21 years I have been lobbying for PSE. To say I am humbled and proud is an understatement!!
An additional sweetener to this insurance issue solution is that K 12 insurance funding will be the same as provided to state employees. Though I don’t have the final numbers (since they haven’t yet been published), I have been told that the full cost of implementing the half time or more for classified employees and applying the state employee funding amount to K 12 is $460 million. For classified employees who have been drowning in insurance premium costs or dropping out because they couldn’t afford to cover themselves (9,000 classified employees) or their dependents (39,000), there is a finally a glimmer of hope that someone finally listened to them!
There will be significant changes to how insurance will be negotiated (basically, there won’t be much local negotiation). A coalition of employee representatives will negotiate with the Governor what the state will fund for insurance benefits. Then the SEBB will use those funds to determine the insurance plans and premiums that will be paid by the employees and the employer.
Though there is a significant increase to state funding for our salaries, we will be limited how much we can negotiate starting in the 2018-19 school year. State funding will increase 37.4% (split equally over the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years – 18.7% per year). However, starting in the 2018-19 school year, our salary increase will be limited to the consumer price index (2% is the current estimate) or as much of an increase necessary to raise district average basic education classified employees salaries to $39,975.50. Complicated but it is what it is. I looked but couldn’t find what the 2017-18 funded salary increase will be…maybe that will show up in the budget that is expected soon.
Starting in the 2020-21 school year, state funding for salary increases will be based upon the Washington State IPD (implicit price deflator) rather than the Seattle CPI (consumer price index).
Starting in the 2018-19 school year, the legislature will fund a “regionalization factor” to salaries. This factor will be added to the state allocation and is intended to offset higher cost areas and relieve the pressure on local levies. The factor shall be based upon the median single-family residential value of each school district and proximate school district median single-family residential value.
There will be an increase to the state property tax to pay a significant part of the roughly $7.3 billion (over the next four years) increase in state funding for K 12. Local levies will be changing but I will have to spend more time figuring out what the impact will be.
As you can tell, these are the parts of McCleary which will have the biggest impact. There are other areas I will be focusing on in future blogs.