Final 18/19 Legislative Advocacy Update:
The 2019 Legislative session ended (on time) and with it the passage of many important bills that impact children across our state. The legislature passed several bills that will help alleviate some of the most critical school funding shortfalls including increasing the levy authority and increased funding for special education. Also passed was new legislation that improves school safety, increase teacher retention & recruitment to address the teacher shortage, new policies to protect transgender youth and much more.
You can read more about what happened this session here: https://www.wastatepta.org/2019-legislative-session-ends-time-sine-die/
Thank you to all who took action this year – writing and calling your representatives, testifying on bills, and participating in WA State PTA advocacy efforts. As we all know there is more work to be done.
Make your voice heard regarding budget cuts and their impact on district and school-wide funding. Critical support staff, such as assistant principals, school counselors and librarians are being cut!
The State Legislature is still in session and working on finalizing budgets, which will have a direct impact on our schools next year. Many of our state representatives are undecided on how they will vote on lifting the levy caps and need to hear directly from all of us to know that we need them to make education a priority.
Many schools are losing critical support staff such as assistant principals, school counselors and librarians (Genesee Hill being one of these schools). Please take the time to reach out to make sure our voices are heard and to ask our representatives to lift the levy cap. Representative Eileen Cody has specifically stated she needs to hear from as many people as possible to help her make her decision. Please see below for a sample letter that can be sent to share your thoughts on why these positions are so critical to the success and well-being of our students.
Here is who you can send your response to:
Eileen.Cody@leg.wa.gov, David.Frockt@leg.wa.gov, Reuven.Carlyle@leg.wa.gov, Bob.Hasegawa@leg.wa.gov, Jamie.Pedersen@leg.wa.gov, Joe.Nguyen@leg.wa.gov, Rebecca.Saldana@leg.wa.gov, Christine.Rolfes@leg.wa.gov
Subject: Please lift the levy lid!
Seattle Public Schools projects a large budget deficit in school year 2019/20. This deficit will result in the loss of assistant principals, school counselors, and librarians. I’m writing to ask that you vote to lift the levy cap and restore these positions that provide essential social emotional support to our students. School counselors provide valuable mental health assistance to students and are crucial in improving student academic achievement. Schools with strong library programs report higher standardized test scores, but even beyond that, librarians and counselors are pivotal in eliminating the opportunity gap. They provide equitable access to literature, technology and emotional support. Sufficient funding will guarantee that schools can continue to provide students with the social emotional support they need and deserve. The state cannot fully cover these costs, and Seattle Public Schools needs to collect the full amount of the Operations Levy recently passed by Seattle voters. Without it, our district budgets will be balanced on the backs of children.
Your Name, (a concerned parent, PTA member, etc) of Genesee Hill Elementary School, Seattle School District
(Thank you to our Advocacy Friends at S.T.E.M. for sharing the following information.)
As many of you may know, the residents of Seattle passed both Seattle Public Schools levies in February. Even though we passed the levies, we might not be able to collect all the money. There is a bill (SB 5313) stuck in the Senate Ways & Means Committee that would lift the levy lid and allow us to keep the money from the levies passed. Please see below a script you can use to put some pressure on our state senators and emails to send it to. Please feel free to add your own personal story as well. The more voices they hear from, the more pressure they will have to do what’s right for our schools.
David.Frockt@leg.wa.gov, Reuven.Carlyle@leg.wa.gov, Bob.Hasegawa@leg.wa.gov, Jamie.Pedersen@leg.wa.gov, Joe.Nguyen@leg.wa.gov, Rebecca.Saldana@leg.wa.gov, Christine.Rolfes@leg.wa.gov
Subject: Please lift the levy lid
All of you represent families in Seattle Public Schools. I therefore urge you to work with your fellow Senators to vote SB 5313 out of the Senate Ways & Means committee and/or find another way to lift the levy lid. I am a parent of a child in Seattle Public Schools, and if the levy lid is not lifted in this budget cycle, our already underfunded district will face a $40 million budget shortfall. Lifting the levy lid is needed just to maintain our already underfunded schools at the same level of funding they have now. so that Seattle Public Schools and other districts do not face massive budget shortfalls. We need to fully fund counselors, librarians, nurses, social workers, and special education. Seattle voters have passed continuation levies and are willing to pay the taxes to fund our public schools. Please make sure their votes count!
Genesee Hill Elementary School PTA Member
Update from WSPTA Legislative Assembly
October 20-21, 2018
GHES PTA participated in the 40th Annual Washington State PTA (WSPTA) Legislative Assembly on October 20-21 at Green River College. The event was attended by over 220 delegates from around the state. The focus of the two-day session was to identify the legislative priorities for the 2019/2020 WSPTA Platform and vote on new/amended PTA principles and resolutions. Participants learned about 12 issue proposals, had the opportunity to debate pros and cons, and made amendments. Finally, delegates voted on the top five legislative priorities. Click here for a summary of the work complete by the delegates: https://www.wastatepta.org/40th-annual-wspta-legislative-assembly-wrap/
The top 5 issues for 2019/20 include:
- Social Emotional Learning
- School Construction & Simple Majority for Bonds
- Prevent Gun Violence
- Strategies to Address the Teacher Shortage
- Strategic K-12 Investments to Close Gaps
You can read more about the issues (and the full WSPTA’s platform) here: https://www.wastatepta.org/focus-areas/advocacy/
Now more than ever, participation and action are critical. There are many ways you can help advocate for all children in our community and state on these issues (and more):
- Vote in all local and state elections (ballots for the 2018 election need to be postmarked by November 6).
- Write, call, or email your state representatives in support of these issues.
- Participate in the PTA Advocacy week (February 11-15) and Focus Day in Olympia (February 11).
- Subscribe to receive timely advocacy alerts: https://actionnetwork.org/forms/subscribe-to-wsptas-action-network-group
- Join the PTA Legislative Advocacy Committee
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Special Update: On January 17, 2018 the SPS School Board unanimously approved Scenario F, effective for the 2018/2019 school year. Existing students will be grandfathered and students who currently receive transportation will continue to receive transportation.
Capacity has been a major focus of our PTA and school administration for the past several years.
Our Legislative Liaisons have been on point to gather West Seattle PTAs together (Presidents, Vice Presidents, and Legislative Liaisons) to bring our community concerns to the right people, including those at Seattle Public Schools (SPS) and the School Board. This included meeting several times to confirm and align our viewpoint, composing and delivering many emails with our immediate capacity concerns at elementary and future concerns for middle and high schools, and included actual proposed solutions. The proposed solutions included boundary revisions along with utilizing the current Schmitz Park elementary site to relieve the immediate capacity pain at Genesee Hill.
We were told our concerns were heard, but using Schmitz Park was not an option due to cost and that boundary changes would be done for the 2018-2019 school year. A Capacity task force was also created in 2016/2017 by the district with the goal to develop recommendations for the superintendent. We were fortunate to have Genesee Hill parent Michael Godfried on this task force who shared information and updates throughout the year. In the end, the task force did have some recommendations and a plan to continue to meet quarterly for the next two years.
In the early part of the 2017 school year, the SPS Enrollment Planning team put forth several scenarios – all developed with extensive feedback from the task force and effected families – and on January 17, 2018, the School Board unanimously adopted Scenario F, effective for the 2018/2019 school year.
- November 8, 2017 – Four parents from the Boundary Discussion Group (Kelley O’Connor, Mike Baker, Rich Sheibley and Christine Kraynek) met with School Board Director Leslie Harris. She said she would “probably” support full grandfathering of existing students, but wanted to know the impacts to transportation costs. She also wants our Boundary Discussion Group to see in action the new tool the school board purchased for enrollment planning and encouraged them to get the new school board members up to date on our issues.
- November 9, 2017 – Enrollment Planning Director Ashley Davies indicated they are leaning towards proposing full grandfathering for all currently enrolled students (versus only specific grades). Their policy will not include grandfathering future siblings. Families will be encouraged to apply during Open Enrollment and the two Principals and Enrollment would work together through the requests to get as many siblings into their desired location without creating more split classes.
- January 17, 2018 – The school board unanimously approved the Boundary change (Scenario F) with existing students grandfathered and students who currently receive transportation continuing to receive transportation.
Our FAQ is a running list of questions posed by parents and administrators regarding boundary changes for the 2018 and beyond school years. We will update this document as we continue to receive updates from the district.