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Time to Get to Work!

We have two (companion) bills on highly capable programs before the Legislature. SB 5354 and HB 1641:  Concerning Programs for Highly Capable Students. You can read the bill in its entirety here.

Getting a bill introduced is only the first step. 

Bills must get a public hearing in the policy committee(s) before the cut off date. Sometimes this is difficult to do. Over 1100 bills have already been filed this session with more to come and there will not be time to hear them all.

We want to be sure our bills get an early hearing in both the House Education Committee (HB 1641) and the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee (SB 5354). We ask your help in getting a hearing scheduled.

Below is a list of the members of the House and Senate education committees. If any legislator listed for either committee is yours, PLEASE email or use the hotline 1.800.562.6000 and request that they ask the committee chair to schedule an early hearing date. Be sure to give the appropriate bill number.

Not sure of your district or legislators? Go to https://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/

h_s education committees contact list.numbers

Please take this first step within the next 72 hours. Sooner is better than later.

There will be subsequent opportunities to advocate for these bills including one we’ll be sending out next week, but this is the first and most important. Without a hearing, the bills are dead and we’ll have to start all over again next year.

Thank you for taking this important step for our highly capable students!

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gifted education day proclamation 2019

gifted ed day flyer 2019 - sb 5354 & hb 1641Download a PDF of this document here.

We did it! We have a HiCap bill in the Senate mandating universal screening and other more equitable identification practices! You can follow the progress of SB 6508 on the website of the Washington State Legislature. Through that link,  you can comment on the bill, sign up to get email notifications or an RSS notification.

BUT NOW THE HARD WORK BEGINS.

We need a MOUNTAIN of advocates across the state to have any chance of getting this bill passed.

There are lots of ways you can help advocate: come to the bill hearing (we’ll send out a notice of date and time), to Gifted Ed Day, February 8th, to PTA Focus Day, January 29th, email your legislator, etc.

Sign up to help here: https://tinyurl.com/support6508

This survey has a wealth of information and opportunities for you. You don’t have to be able to make it to Olympia to help. Please have a look to see how you can help.

The Senate Republicans passed their budget bill (ESSB 5048) last Friday, and the House Democrats are on track to pass their budget bill (HB 1067) this Friday. The bills have significant differences, and we expect some long and difficult negotiations between the two parties. There will be more opportunities for you to voice your opinion before a final budget is approved, but today is the best time to get involved.

The proposed 2017-2018 funding levels for highly capable programs in either budget won’t even allow districts to continue the services they offer today. Neither House nor Senate budget proposal addresses the persistent and pervasive under funding of gifted education, and both will do harm to our state’s gifted learners. 

Both House and Senate proposals aim to limit services to 2.314% of our state’s enrollment, or about 25,530 students. In 2015-2016, districts identified and served 63,551 gifted students. All of these students deserve their appropriate, fully funded basic education. They have been waiting since 2009.

In the past few days, we’ve also shared our analysis of the Senate bill, our analysis of the House bill, and what the adoption of either proposal could mean for gifted students.

At a minimum, the state needs to allocate an amount that covers the actual costs of providing services to our identified gifted learners. Please contact your legislators today and request that the legislature fund the recommendations of the 2010 Highly Capable Program Technical Work Group:

  • Fund 5% of enrollment
  • Fund 6.5 hours per week in grades K-6
  • Fund 3.1 hours per week in grades 7-12
You can find and email your legislator using the District finder at http://app.leg.wa.gov/districtfinder, or you can use the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000. Operators will take your message and transmit it to your legislator(s) so plan out in advance what you want to say, write it down, and then read it to the operator to be sure it says exactly what you want it to say.
 
Thank you for taking action to gain full, ample, and equitable funding for highly capable services. 63,551+ gifted students in Washington are counting on you!

Where We Stand

The proposed 2017-2018 funding for highly capable programs doesn’t even allow districts to continue the services they offer today. Neither House nor Senate budget proposal addresses the persistent and pervasive under funding of gifted education, and both will do harm to our state’s gifted learners.

Both House and Senate proposals aim to limit services to 2.314% of our state’s enrollment, or about 25,530 students. In 2015-2016, districts identified and served over 63,500 gifted students. All of these students deserve their appropriate, fully funded basic education. They have been waiting since 2009.

Districts across the state have long had to supplement state highly capable funding with local levy dollars to be able to identify and serve the gifted learners in their communities. It’s common to see a district spend more local levy funds than they receive from the state for this program of basic education.

To take one example: The Puyallup School District will receive $206,671 from the state in 2016-2017. They will supplement that with $236,271 in local levy funds. Next year, the amount they will receive from the state will be essentially the same, but they will not be able to use levy dollars to fund basic education.

What would they have to eliminate from this year’s budget to stay within the state allocation?

  • They could eliminate their Young Scholars program which serves students K-2 and helps them to identify and develop students who might otherwise be overlooked.
  • They would also have to eliminate their AP Capstone program, the first comprehensive and coordinated program Puyallup has had dedicated to serving gifted students in grades 10-12.
  • Also on the potential chopping block:
    • all professional development on gifted learners
    • parent information nights for families of students who were referred for possible identification and service
    • mailings seeking referrals to the program, and notifying potential students of testing opportunities and the results of the identification process
    • the testing that they use to identify students referred for services
    • additional curriculum for students identified as highly capable
    • …and that still wouldn’t be quite enough

At a minimum, the state needs to allocate an amount that covers the actual costs of providing services to our identified gifted learners. To provide for improvements in the program that are essential to address issues of equity will require more. Providing the professional development necessary to build teacher capacity in the identification and service of gifted students costs money. Making changes to our referral and identification processes also has a cost. We request again that the legislature fund the recommendations of the 2010 Highly Capable Program Technical Work Group:

  • Fund 5% of enrollment
  • Fund 6.5 hours per week in grades K-6
  • Fund 3.1 hours per week in grades 7-12

Highly capable programs have been basic education since 2009. It’s past time for the Legislature to fulfill its obligation to these students, and today the House joins the Senate in missed opportunities.

While the Senate Republican budget proposal last week required a little study to fully decipher how highly capable funding and services would be affected, the House Democratic proposal is much harder to analyze. In our most generous interpretation, it’s incomplete. At worst, the House Democratic proposal completely overlooks the persistent and pervasive state level under funding of gifted education and provides only minimal maintenance level increases to state funding levels.

In 2018 and 2019 in their budget proposal (PSHB 1067), total state funding for gifted education remains essentially unchanged from status quo levels, allocating about $10.6 million in FY 2018 and $10.8 million in FY 2019. Districts are now prohibited from using local levy funds to cover costs of basic education as they’ve had to do for years, and this “maintenance level” funding will mean that students will see a catastrophic decrease in the amount of funding available to provide highly capable services. By our most conservative estimates that represents a cut of about $7 million annually from what was spent in the 2015-1016 school year, if everything else remained the same.

The problem is more complicated than that. Funding for highly capable services is based on a formula that involves the percentage of students eligible, a number of hours per week to be funded for each student, and an average teacher salary. That calculation arrives at an amount to be allocated to each district that they can use to provide highly capable services as they see fit. In a related bill referenced in their budget proposal (HB 2185), House Democrats are proposing no change to the percentage of students eligible, a slight increase in the number of hours per week to be funded, and an increase in average teacher salary.

Based on our rough calculations, that formula should drive about $17.7 million in gifted funding in 2017-2018, $22.4 million in gifted funding in 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, and $26.6 million in gifted funding in 2020-2021. Clearly, that doesn’t match up to what is allocated in their budget proposal.

At a minimum, the state needs to allocate an amount that covers the actual costs of providing highly capable services to the 63.5K+ actual identified students that districts have been paying with a combination of state dollars and local levy funds. To provide for improvements in the program that are essential to address issues of equity will require more. Providing the professional development necessary to build teacher capacity in the identification and service of gifted students costs money. Making changes to our referral and identification processes costs money. Providing services to all of the students who are identified costs money.

Right now, we’ll call this plan incomplete. If corrections are not offered soon, that incomplete could very quickly become a failing grade.

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