Tuesday, June 7, 2011, was a significant day for Highly Capable Programs in the state of Washington. Governor Gregoire signed SB 5919 that implements the new definition of basic education, effective September 1, 2011.
This bill places Highly Capable Programs within the definition of basic education, which gives it the constitutional protections that accompany basic ed (the “paramount duty” of the state). It mandates all districts must provide appropriate programs and services to identified highly capable students. Currently, these programs are voluntary for the districts and in the most recent report only 206 of the 295 districts in the state provided programs using state funding. It does not constitute a right to such services for any individual student but only for these students as a class.
5919 also calls for supplemental enhanced funding for Highly Capable Programs (to be authorized in the budget, scheduled for the Governor’s signature June 15).
The Coalition will continue to advocate for Highly Capable Programs on the state level since there are many details to be worked out and funding continues as an issue. Legislation to implement the recommendations of the Highly Capable Program Technical Working Group failed to pass in the recent legislative session. Work continues on that aspect.
Local parent organizations will now assume more responsibility for seeing that services are provided by the district.
The legal status of services to highly capable students is outlined here. Page 5 is the budget not yet signed by the Governor.
Thank you to everyone who worked so hard over the past several years to bring about this important change.