News Blog

Change is in the air…

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?

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Fall updates on affordable health insurance for school employees

PSE Member Patty Estes was appointed to the state board that will "design and approve insurance benefit plans for school employees, and establish eligibility criteria for participation in these plans." (Washington State Health Care Authority)

PSE Member Patty Estes was appointed to the state board that will “design and approve insurance benefit plans for school employees, and establish eligibility criteria for participation in these plans.” (Washington State Health Care Authority)

Greetings from the School Employees Benefit Board (SEBB). I wanted to keep my fellow PSE members as informed as possible on our progress in creating the benefit program we will all fall under in 2020.

The first meeting of the School Employees Benefits Board was held on October 23, 2017. In this meeting, we discussed values, goals, and visions of the board. We all seemed to be on the same page as to why we are there. We want to take care of all school employees, certified and classified alike. This is a great opportunity for us to have a voice in benefit plan selection and eligibility requirements. While the Legislature is still working on defining and filling in some of the gaps in House Bill 2242, we are hitting the ground running.

On November 6, 2017, we held our second meeting. We heard from Dr. Dan Lessler (Chief Medical Officer for the HealthCare Authority), who spoke about the state of our healthcare system in the United States compared to other industrialized nations. Dr. Lessler spoke about the need for change in that system, and explained the importance of changing from volume-based payments to value-based payments. We discussed the importance of “whole person care” in the work we are doing. Dr. Lessler spoke to us all about the Accountable Care Program/Network that is currently in place under some benefit plans in the PEBB (Public Employees Benefits Board) program.

We will begin looking at benefit plans within the next few meetings. I would like to invite any feedback from you about current benefit plans, what works, what doesn’t, any ideas to improve, etc.

The board has had a lot of questions that we have been unable to get answered with the state of the House Bill 2242’s ambiguity. The Legislature will need to fill in the gaps before we will know some of these answers. Until then, we are preparing for all K-12 school districts, charter schools, and educational service districts to be required to switch benefit plan coverage to the SEBB program we create.

Our next meeting will be December 11, 2017 at 1pm at the HealthCare Authority in Olympia, WA. For more information, agenda, meeting minutes and board member contact information, click here. I would like to encourage anyone with feedback for me or any of the board members to contact us or attend a meeting (in person or via phone). Any questions and/or comments are welcome and appreciated.

Thank you,

Patty Estes
Eatonville School District
P.O. Box 1364
Eatonville, WA 98328
C 360-621-9610
p.estes.sebb@gmail.com

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Apply to be a Legislative Intern!

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.

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Paraeducator Board Reporting for Duty

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!

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Labor Day 2017: Our union. Our right to win.

Unions ensure our right to win livable wages, health insurance, and a brighter future for our families.

As you celebrate Labor Day with your family and friends, take a moment to remember the meaning behind the three-day weekend. This holiday is celebrated because union members like you fought for it. They fought for and won fair and safe treatment on the job, a minimum wage, overtime, child labor laws, and weekends. Union members gave their blood, sweat, and tears so that we can all recognize and enjoy these freedoms and more.

Unions ensure our right to win. Let’s stand together and keep our union strong.

Your benefits as a PSE SEIU Local 1948 member include emergency assistance, a lawyer referral program, scholarships for you and your dependents, and discounts on dental services, accidental death & dismemberment insurance, movie tickets, travel, cell phone service, mortgages, and more.

Get connected for the 2017-18 school year and discover what membership means. Text PSE to 787753 to receive important updates to your device, and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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PEBB Board Approves Plans, Premiums for 2018

The Public Employees Benefits Board approved the 2018 health care plans and associated premiums at their meeting this week.

The materials from the meeting, including information on how much each plan will cost, can be found here.

Highlights are on the following pages:

  • Page 32 is the most important since it shows the dollar and percentage increases (or decreases) for each plan. UMP Classic premiums are rising 8.5% on average, while UMP Plus is going down 31.5%. Enrollment for the UMP Plus plan grew significantly in 2017 – going from 10% of enrollments to 16%. With this premium decrease, enrollment is expected to go much higher in 2018.
  • Page 36 has a good layout showing the plan changes from the previous year.

Open enrollment is in November 2017. Please let us know if you have any questions.

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Gov. Inslee signs McCleary school funding bill; School Employees Benefits Board included

Senator Steve Hobbs, Governor Jay Inslee, and PSE President Charlotte Shindler at the McCleary funding solution bill signing in Olympia, WA.

Senator Steve Hobbs, Governor Jay Inslee, and PSE President Charlotte Shindler at the McCleary funding solution bill signing in Olympia, WA.

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.

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Show your support for HB 2242 and SEBB

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.

Support-HB-2242-and-SEBB

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McCleary solution approved

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.

 

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Budget all done

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.

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