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!
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.
This morning, Governor Inslee signed ESHB 1115, PSE’s paraeducator bill. Inslee’s action puts an end to PSE’s five year effort to convince the legislature that paraeducators need to be recognized by the State as a critical member of the instruction team. However, there is plenty more to be do as the paraeducator board is formed and the Board starts to work on developing the standards, training modules, career ladder, and, advanced paraeducator standards.
Additionally, we will be seeking state funding for the board and training ($23 million) in the next budget cycle two years from now.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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:
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.
Paraeducators must take the following courses to earn their “paraeducator certificate”. The legislature must provide funding for:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
— 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.