News Blog

Governor Inslee gets paraeducator bill

Yesterday, the House gave final approval, (94-1 vote – okay Representative Klippert you wanted to be different), to PSE’s paraeducator bill, ESHB 1115.  Governor Inslee will have a couple of weeks to determine if he will support the legislation.  I’m not expecting any surprises but will let you know if there are any concerns.

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K 12 compensation tied to McCleary

When the Supreme Court entered its last order, they made compensation a major issue that the legislature needed to address.  This wasn’t new to anyone since it has been clear for decades that local levies, not the State, have been paying for “competitive salaries”.  What “competitive” means is that the State provides school districts a “base salary” but school districts have to rely upon local levies to add additional compensation to make salaries “competitive”.

This is true for all three of the major classification of employees: teachers, principals, classified employees.  And the amount of money coming from local levies for “competitive” salaries is a very large number: $1.2 billion per year.  The classified employee share of the total amount is $244 million.  Because the Court wants the State to fully fund or have at least a plan to fund this by 2018, legislators (and Governor Inslee) have offered 3 different solutions.  Solutions form House Democrats and Governor Inslee are similar while the Senate is significantly different.

Governor Inslee

While there were significant salary increases for teachers and administrators, there were also significant increases for classified employees.

—- September 1, 2017…raise state funding for classified salaries (inclusive of the 2.4% Initiative 732 salary increase) from the current $33,412 to $39,457 (a 18.1% increase)

—- September 1, 2018…raise state funding for classified salaries (inclusive of the 2.8% Initiative 732 salary increase) from $39,457 to $52,908 (a 34% increase).

—- Professional development would be provided to paraeducators amounting to 20 hours in 2017 and 40 hours in 2018.

House Democrats

While there were significant salary increases for teachers and administrators, there were also significant increases for classified employees.

—- September 1, 2017…raise state funding for classified salaries (inclusive of the 2.3% Initiative 732 salary increase) from the current $33,412 to $40,060.66 (a 19.9% increase)

—- September 1, 2018…raise state funding for classified salaries (inclusive of the 2.7% Initiative 732 salary increase) from $40,060.66 to $46,888.93 (a 17% increase).

—- Professional development would be provided to all state funded FTEs amounting to 1 day 2017 and 2 days in 2018.

Senate Republicans

Along with many other changes to K 12 funding, the Senate only proposed a 2.3% Initiative 732 salary increase effective September 1, 2017.

Future salary increases would be governed by future local negotiations.  The State would provide school districts an annual increase (based upon the US IPD (implicit price deflator – usually 1-1.5% below the Seattle CPI (consumer price index).  This increase is then subject to negotiations to determine who gets how much of the increased funding.  And to make it more complicated, school districts cannot provide salary funding exceeding 80% of their State funding.  Not an attractive environment competing with teachers and others for smaller funding increases.


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State and higher education employee contracts

There are 27 contracts that unions have negotiated with their employers (including Governor Inslee).  Those contracts have to be approved (and funded) by the legislature before they can be implemented.  Governor Inslee’s budget funded them.  The House democrat’s budget funded them.  Senate republican’s budget only funded 2 of the contracts.  The remaining 25 contracts were not approved by Senate republicans instead they approved a $500 salary increase per year for each year of the budget.

Why is there a difference?  According to Senate budget chair John Braun, Senate republican’s chose to prioritize state funding so they could fully fund K 12 education.  Fully funding the contracts costs nearly $500 million.  The Senate budget proposal only costs $78 million.

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Budget breakdown continues

The stage is set but the actors are not playing their roles.  House democrats and Senate republicans have approved their separate budgets, now the only thing to do is negotiate the differences.  Normally, with 11 days left before the end of session, Budget negotiators meet and trade issues based upon the relative importance of the issue to their party.  This winnowing process results in a final budget.  That’s not happening this year because the Senate has refused to meet until after the House has approved the tax increases necessary to fund the House’s budget (roughly $3 billion in new taxes).  As of today, House democrats have refused to vote on the tax increases necessary to fund their budget.

So there is the first reason for the breakdown.  And if you think that is a big problem the next one is even bigger: the Budgets they have approved are as different as “apples to zucchinis”.  Normally, budgets are different, but the differences are so big it is difficult to imagine how they are going to cobble together an agreement.  The popular expectation here in Olympia is that the only thing that is going to force them to agreement is the June 30 deadline (after that date, the government doesn’t have any money to operate).

Over the next several blog entries, I am going to break apart the major issues, one issue at a time, that are the heart of the “apples to zucchini” budgets.


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Another hurdle passed as paraeducator bill moves on

After a variety of hiccups, the Senate unanimously approved the agreed to paraeducator bill after also approving this amendment.  After a false start yesterday, the Senate got right down to business today by approving the bill as the first bill of the day.  Senators Rivers, Rolfes, and Zeiger spoke to the value of paraeducators in the classroom.  All of them credited the late Senator Andy Hill for his work promoting the value of paraeducators and this bill.

Though he was not recognized on the Senate floor, the key player helping us reach the agreement was our champion in the House for the last four years, Representative Steve Bergquist!

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Another change to paraeducator bill

Yesterday, before voting the paraeducator bill out of the Appropriations committee, legislators approved an amendment to delay the implementation date of the minimum employment requirements one year.  Paraeducators will have to meet the requirements by September 1, 2018, rather than September 1, 2017.

Hopefully this will be the last amendment to the bill but there are a couple more steps to go through so we shall see.

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Revenue to fund education

Yesterday, the House Finance committee took several hours of testimony on HB 2186, the bill to authorize new revenue sources to fund McCleary, K 12, and other priorities in the House’s recently approved budget.  It would authorize an additional $2.8 billion of new revenue sources in the 2017-19 budget which would grow to $4.8 billion in the 2019-21 budget.  The majority of these increases in 2017-19 would come from three sources: B&O tax ($1.2 billion),  capital gains ($715 million), and, real estate excise tax (REET) $435 million.  Here is a complete listing at this table.

Not surprising, there were many more supporters than opponents testifying at the hearing.  The committee approved the bill on party line vote this morning sending it to an uncertain future on the House floor.

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PSE Members Lobby for Higher Education

chamber1PSE members from all over the state met in Olympia yesterday to lobby for higher education. A very energetic group of members had great conversations with their respective legislators to advocate for the funding of higher education collective bargaining agreements.

Members made clear to representatives that the wage increases proposed in these contracts are vital to finally put higher education employees on a path to earning a more competitive, livable wage. PSE drove home the point that, with these wage increases, Universities will be better equipped to not only attract new employees in a competitive market, but to retain all of the talented employees who currently work there! Overall, the feedback from these legislators was largely positive and receptive.

Billig1While yesterday was a success by any measure, we all know and understand that our work is far from over! Make sure to contact your representatives and let them know how vital it is that these contracts be included in the final 2017-2019 budget! Here is the complete list of legislators. If you don’t know your legislative district, click here.

OrmsbyFinally, if you have not done so already, please join Zone 13’s Facebook page.

Zone 13 Director Angie Wedekind is always posting information relevant to higher education!

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Paraeducator breakthrough

It looks like this is the year that we will pass the paraeducator bill!  After three years of trying to get all the recommendations from the paraeducator advisory workgroup implemented, PSE reached an agreement with WEA on changes to our original bill.  Though many features of the original bill continue, we agreed to a variety of changes to get the bill passed this year.  Both the House and Senate education committees approved the agreement this afternoon.  The bills, HB 1115 and SB 5070, next go to the fiscal committees for their approval.

Paraeducator minimum employment requirements

These are the current Title I standards that are in place in most all school districts.  All paraeducators, not just paraeducators who work in Title I schools or school districts, will have to meet one of the following standards beginning September 1, 2017:

  1. Be at least eighteen years of age and hold a high school diploma or its equivalent; and
  2. Have received a passing grade on the education testing service paraeducator assessment; or
  3. Hold an associate of arts degree; or
  4. Have earned seventy-two quarter credits or forty-eight semester credits at an institution of higher education; or
  5. Have completed a registered apprenticeship program.

Special education and English language learner certificates

The easiest change to describe is that the paraeducator board will continue to develop special education and ELL (English Language Learners) standards but paraeducators are not required to earn this “specialty” certificate to work in these programs.  In order to earn the certificate, the paraeducator must attend 20 hours of professional development.  The certificate expires after five years.

Paraeducator certificate

Paraeducators must take the following courses to earn their “paraeducator certificate”.  The legislature must provide funding for:

  1. a four day fundamental course of study; and,
  2. an additional ten days of general courses, as defined by the board, on the state paraeducator standards of practice.

Only after completing both the four day fundamental course and the 10 day general course will a paraeducator earn their paraeducator certificate. The certificate does not expire.

If the legislature does not provide funding for the courses, paraeducators don’t have to meet the requirement that they get a paraeducator certificate within three years of taking the four day course of study.

Four day fundamental course of study

Beginning September 1, 2019, school districts must use their best efforts to provide the course of study before the paraeducator begins to work with students and their families.  At a minimum they must provide paraeducators hired on or before September 1, 2019, the four day fundamental course of study by September 30, 2019.  Paraeducators hired after September 1 of each subsequent year who work in a school district with 10,000 or more students, must receive the course of student within 4 months of the date of hire; paraeducators hired after September 1 of each subsequent year, who work in a school district with less than 10,000 students, must receive the course of study by no later than September 1 of the following year.

10 day general course of study

Beginning September 1, 2019, school districts must provide the 10 day general course of study within 3 years of completing the four-day fundamental course of study.

Advanced paraeducator certificate

The paraeducator board will develop the seventy-five hour professional development training that a paraeducator will have to take in order to qualify for their advanced paraeducator certificate.  The certificate expires after five years.


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Final budget better for classified employees

House democrats just released their budget, the final of the three budgets, that is quite a bit different from the Senate proposal released last week.  Representative Ormsby, chair of the Appropriations committee, characterized the differences between the House and Senate budgets like the differences between apples and zucchinis.  Except for the lack of additional funding for K 12 health insurance or classified employee staffing, it was good on all other measures.

Major Issues:

— Higher Education Contracts and Health Care Agreement – Fully funded

— K 12 Classified Employee Salary Increase – 19.9% effective 9-1-17, 17% effective 9-1-18 (this includes the I 732 salary increases of 2.3% effective 9-1-17, and 2.7% effective 9-1-18.)

— Learning Days (something new) – One funded day in 2017-18, Two days in 2018-19, Four days in 2019-20, 6 Days in 2020-21

— Higher Education Tuition Freeze and revenue backfill – $56 million

— K 12 Insurance – frozen at current rate, $780

— No change to basic education classified employee staffing funded by local levies (5,000 FTEs) 

— House’s paraeducator bill fully funded.

$1.7 billion of the K 12 compensation increases, inclusive of the learning days and I 732 salary increase, are in jeopardy if the House does not pass nearly $3 billion in new tax sources.

As more details emerge, I will update this entry.

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