Waiting for Governor Inslee to sign paraeducator bill

I expect Governor Inslee to sign ESHB 1115 sometime over the next two weeks.  If we are lucky, we will get 12-24 hours notification that he has decided to sign it.  Then we drop everything so we can attend the signing ceremony and thank him for his support.

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Governor Inslee approves extension of interpreter deadline

Governor Inslee has signed into law SB 5142, the bill to give deaf and hard of hearing paraeducator interpreters additional time to meet standards.  Dependent upon what stage the paraeducator is at, they will have an additional 12-18 months to meet the standards.  At the latest, a deaf and hard of hearing paraeducator interpreter would have until February 28, 2019, to meet the standards.

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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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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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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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1 minute on Senate Budget

With over 100 people wanting to testify, everyone was limited to 1 minute of testimony  (I think I did it in 45 seconds)…
This is what I said:
We like:
  1. Funding paraeducator bill
  2. Pension contributions including the $700 million from rainy day fund
  3. Funding the union coalition health care agreement
  4. Levy equity proposal
  5. State funding for 5,000 locally funded basic education classified employee FTE staff 
  6. State funding for the portion of basic education classified employee salaries that are locally funded
We urge them to consider or reconsider:
  1. Fully funding the PSE higher education contracts
  2. Seattle CPI as future inflation index starting in September 2018
  3. Funding Insurance Inflation with separate index or better yet…move classified employees into PEBB.
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House hears comprehensive paraeducator development bill

Yesterday, the House Education committee heard SB 5070, PSE’s paraeducator bill.  After hearing from bill sponsor, Senator Ann Rivers, supporters and opponents continued the debate that has been going on this session (as well as the last two sessions).  Arguments from both haven’t changed.  Supporters like Cassandra Sage from the Washington State PTA and Arzu Forough from the Washington Autism Advocacy Association explained how paraeducators who provide daily instruction needed state standards and training because of the critical role they play helping students succeed, especially students who need additional assistance to succeed in school and life.

Opponents continued to argue of their fears that paraeducators would not be able to pay for training and were likely to be fired.

I responded by saying if anyone would be fired it would be me for setting paraeducators up for failure.  Instead, I explained that if the training was too expensive or took too much time, we would gladly extend the three year timeline just like the legislature is doing with an 18 month extension for deaf and hard of hearing interpreters  in SB 5142, which is passing easily this session.


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House to hear paraeducator bill again

Next Monday, at 1:30, the House Education committee will be hearing SB 5070, PSE’s paraeducator bill.  This gives us another opportunity to convince the House to support the comprehensive paraeducator development program in 5070: mandatory standards, training to meet the standards, a career ladder that includes an advanced paraeducator position, improved pathway for paraeducators who want to become teachers, and training for teachers and principals who supervise paraeducators.

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