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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Budget details finally published

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!

  • PSE’s higher education contracts funded
  • State employee and higher education employee coalition insurance agreement fully funded
  • 2.3% salary increase effective 9-1-17 for K 12 employees (see LEAP 2 for each school districts salary allocation).
  • 17% salary allocation increase to $39,975.50 effective 9-1-19 for K 12 employees.  However, unless you have already agreed to salary increases for 2018-19 on the effective date of HB 2242, your salary increase will be different based upon your school districts average basic education classified employee salary (see LEAP 2).  The salary increase will be the Seattle CPI (current law) or how much would be necessary to raise each school districts average basic education salary calculation up to the amount allocated by the State.
  • Effective 9-1-18, K12 regionalization salary factor for certain school districts goes into effect (see LEAP 3)
  • Insurance funding increased to $820 ($40 increase or 5.1% increase) effective 9-1-17 and $840 (2.4% increase) effective 9-1-18
  • Retiree carveout $64.07 (.5% decrease) effective 9-1-17 and $68.67 (7.2% increase) effective 9-1-18
  • $1.9 million to fund paraeducator board and startup grants
  • $8 million to fund the SEBB (school employee benefit board)

If I find more details in the 617 page budget, I will update in a future blog.

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Paraeducators finally achieve State recognition

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.

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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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