Bills to eliminate school grades and to expand OEK move forward – February 5, 2020

House Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): Two bills highlighted on the UEA Tracking Sheet and supported by the UEA passed the committee and now move to the full House for consideration:

HB99: Enhanced Kindergarten Amendments was presented by Rep. Lowry Snow. The bill clarifies assessment and reporting requirements for optional extended-day Kindergarten programs and seeks to expand the availability of OEK programs with an additional $18 million in funding. Sara Jones, UEA Director of Education Excellence, spoke in support of the bill. She stated that while UEA emphasizes significant increases to the WPU as the most flexible source of funding, a key UEA legislative priority is to improve student equity and access to quality education for students at academic risk, which the OEK program has been very successful in doing. The bill passed the committee with one ‘no’ vote.

HB175: Education Accountability Amendments was presented by Rep. Marie Poulson. This bill seeks to eliminate the use of a single letter grade for school accountability. The same bill easily passed the House in 2019 but was never debated in the Senate. Sara Jones, UEA Director of Education Excellence, spoke in support of the bill. She said that the school grading program has been demoralizing to educators and students, has changed from year to year so the target for improvement has never been consistent and a single grade lacks transparency compared to the more comprehensive school dashboard. The bill passed the committee unanimously.

Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee (reported by Jay Blain): The subcommittee continued to hear budget presentations:

 

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB1: Public Education Base Budget Amendments provides the bulk of public education funding for Fiscal Year 2020-21. It allocates more than $5.5 billion, essentially adopting the previous year’s budget. New for this year, this base budget includes just over $50 million for new student enrollment growth, which has been funded separately in the past. HB1 passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the Governor for signature. The Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee will make recommendations to the Executive Appropriations Committee for a final bill to provide any increased public education funding (see How the Public Education Budget is Set).

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