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Posts Tagged ‘Budget’

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!

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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

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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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We’re still digesting the Senate Republican budget that was released an hour ago, but initially we have many more questions than answers.

In 2018, funding for gifted education remains essentially unchanged. Since districts will now be prohibited from using local levy funds to cover costs of basic education, by our most conservative estimate that represents a cut of about $7 million from what was spent in the 2015-1016 school year.

In 2019, funding for gifted education is “doubled” (total state funding is doubled, but the total amount of state and local dollars combined that were spent in 15-16 is not doubled). Here’s where it gets tricky. The budget says that districts will receive $1K per highly capable student, and allocates a total of $22 million. That works out to 22K students funded – based on current enrollment and their actual formula in statute, it should actually be 25,530 students funded, which would mean less than $1K per student.

In 2015-2016, over 63.5K students received highly capable services, an increase of 8K+ more students than had been served in 2014-2015, and expanding and maturing gifted programs across the state could result in another increase for the current school year.

A formula that funds 22K students, when more than 61K students are identified and served is not ample, and the services that $22 million will provide will not be equitable.

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 those students costs money.

If we assume that there is no cap on the number of students to be served, the state would actually be allocating about $346 per student. In 2007, before gifted services became a part of our state’s definition of basic education, when only about 2/3rds of districts offered services, and primarily to students in grades 3-6, the state allocated about $400 per student.

As we said at the beginning, there remain many more questions than answers.

(Edited on 3/27 to reflect new enrollment numbers from OSPI that showed 63,551 students receiving highly capable services in 2015-2016.)

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Washington promises a continuum of Highly Capable Program services K-12 to identified gifted students as part of basic education. These students can be found in school districts large and small, and across all demographic groups. Our districts seek to find and serve each of these students.

Inclusion in basic education has resulted in the identification and support of increasing numbers of gifted students from all backgrounds, particularly those from previously underserved populations. Yet districts continue to struggle to identify and serve all their eligible students due to a lack of adequate and equitable state funding.

Amid growing challenges—changing demographics, increasing diversity of the student population, and limited fiscal resources—addressing the needs of gifted students is a real issue. Underserved gifted students may include students who are already the focus of reform efforts: dropouts, students from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and students who live in poverty. Research shows that between 18 percent and 25 percent of high school dropouts are identified as gifted. The majority of those students are from low-SES families and culturally and linguistically diverse groups.

Providing for the needs of gifted students is an important component of local school efforts. Using multiple measures to identify gifted and talented students and providing various strategies to meet their needs will go a long way toward helping these students excel academically (closing the achievement gap), stay in school (increasing the graduation rate and reducing the dropout rate), and be successful in their lives.

The direction and continuity of local gifted services and supports are heavily influenced by the strength of state policy initiatives and funding. Unfortunately, the state appropriation for the Highly Capable Program currently covers only about 15% of the actual costs to districts to provide this basic education service. We were very disappointed to see that the House budget proposal released today does nothing to remedy this.

In 2010, the Legislature created the Highly Capable Program Technical Working Group. Comprised of national and state experts on gifted education, the HCPTWG recommended the state increase funding to 5% of total student enrollment, and increase the number of hours of highly capable services funded to 6.5 hours per week in a class size of 15 for grades K-6 and 3.1 hours per week in a class size of 15 for grades 7-12. Funding the recommendations of the HCPTWG would be an important step towards ensuring equitable access to the state’s Highly Capable Program. Continuing to stand by an obsolete and inequitable formula and claiming to have met their obligation, as the House budget proposal did today, is not acceptable.

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The Washington Coalition for Gifted Education represents all Highly Capable children in Washington. We are calling for an increase in funding to 5%, as recommended by the Quality Education Council, so that all districts can identify and support every Highly Capable child’s strengths.

Some background information:

All the proposals for the final supplemental budget for FYs 2012 and 2013 (the current biennium) call for $ 17,904,000 for HCP.

The Office of Financial Management has calculated that maintenance level funding for HCP for FYs 2014 and 2015 is $19,083,000.  This amount is what it will take to provide the same services in 2014 and 2015 as the $17.9 million did in 2012 and 2013.

The chart below compares budget proposals that will be considered in conference. All funding amounts are based on 2.314% of a district’s total student enrollment. Funding is Section 511 of the proposal.

 

Gregoire Inslee Senate House
$19,268,000 $19,277,000 $19,153,000 $19,236,000

 

These amounts are all barely maintenance level funding. This level of funding leaves 40% of districts, many small and rural, with no services or programs whatsoever.

Legislators have told us that they assume that the districts will use some of the $1 billion increase all budgets propose for basic education to cover the increased costs of the Highly Capable Program based on the revised WAC. The legislature cannot direct them to do so, so they have to “assume” it will happen. That is wishful thinking.

Contact your representatives and senator NOW and tell them you want the HCP supplemental funding increased to the 5% level.

The House budget will be on the floor for a vote within a few days so contact your Representatives as soon as possible. After that vote, the different bills will go to a conference committee so contact your Senator next.

Here’s how:  If you do not already know who they are, find your legislators here http://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/

Next, call the Toll-Free Legislative Hotline, 8AM to 8PM at 1-800-562-6000 and leave this message for your State Legislators: “I want you to increase Highly Capable Education funding to 5%, the level recommended by the Quality Education Council.”

Follow up with short emails with the same message to your State Representatives and Senator. Email addresses use this format: Firstname.Lastname@leg.wa.gov or find them at https://dlr.leg.wa.gov/MemberEmail/Default.aspx

Thank you for your advocacy!

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Gifted Education Advocates,

We must convince legislators to increase funding for Highly Capable Education, and need your immediate action. Thank you in advance for your advocacy.

Please do the following TODAY or TOMORROW. Please have students leave messages as well!

1. If you do not already know, find your legislators here http://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/

2. Call the Toll-Free Legislative Hotline, 8AM to 8PM at 1-800-562-6000 and leave this message for your State Representatives:

“I want you to tell Representative Hunter that it is time for Washington State to ensure equity for all students. I want you to increase Highly Capable Education funding to 5%, the level recommended by the Quality Education Council.”

3. Call the Toll-Free Legislative Hotline, 8AM to 8PM at 1-800-562-6000 and leave this message for your State Senator:

“I want you to tell Senators Tom and Hill that it is time for Washington State to ensure equity for all students. I want you to increase Highly Capable Education funding to 5%, the level recommended by the Quality Education Council.”

4. Follow up with short emails to your State Representatives and Senator. Email addresses use this format: Firstname.Lastname@leg.wa.gov or find them at https://dlr.leg.wa.gov/MemberEmail/Default.aspx

5. Send additional emails to Ross.Hunter@leg.wa.gov, Rodney.Tom@leg.wa.gov, and Andy.Hill@leg.wa.gov

You may wish to provide them with more information in your email. Feel free to add your personal experience, or use the information below.

With 5% funding the state’s Highly Capable Programs plan will:

  • Ensure equity for all students by supporting early identification, a continuum of services K-12, along with appropriate professional development.
  • Provide equitable screening that eliminates bias
  • Establish a deliberate, systematic effort to look at traditionally underserved populations.
  • Widen opportunity for young children (K-3) who show potential in comparison to their classmates, and to develop that potential to see where it may lead.
  • Provide programming appropriate to the student’s strength.

We are counting on you to take action immediately. There are tens of thousands of Highly Capable children in Washington state who need your help!

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