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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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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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1. Help us build our bona fides in Olympia. We would like to reach 750 followers on Facebook during session. Please “like” us on Facebook.

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2. While you need to work on an almost daily basis with your local building and/or district, we offer a special opportunity to interact with state legislators. We look forward to working with you on educating our legislators on Gifted Education Day in Washington, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. Since appointments are easier to arrange for a small group to meet with a legislator, rather than a number of individual appointments, consider joining with other advocates in your area and making a joint trip to Olympia. Coming jointly makes parking easier to find and less expensive.

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3. You can now submit comments on any pending bill by clicking on “comment on this bill” on the bill home page. The first time you use it you will be asked to set up an account with your email and a password. You will also be asked for your name and address. I tried it and it is easy to set up and use. Comments are limited to 1000 characters. Quick and easy – except for counting the number of characters in your message. If you are a Twitter user you already do that. This is a test run to see how much it is used and how much value it has to legislators.

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4. Seabury School is presenting Dr. Susan Daniels on “Raising Creative Kids” on February 20th in Tacoma. Creative children think outside the box! They are driven by curiosity and innovation. Parenting them, however, can be both EXCITING and EXHAUSTING. Learn strategies for cultivating and supporting creativity, as well as parenting strategies for nurturing the social and emotional development of your creative children. For more information, or to register, visit their event page.

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IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO KNOW

5. If you receive e-mails from wagifted@earthlink.net, please be sure any message or spam filters you have will also accept messages from wagifted@gmail.com.  To ensure that we can always get important communications to you, even if one of our methods is not available, we’re building some redundancy into our system.  We’ll be working on some additional changes in the coming weeks and days.  Even though the address is different, the email is indeed from us.

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6. Bills are starting to move out of committees to the floor. Besides any emails we may send out, important information and updates will be available on our Facebook page, so be sure to check there.  http://www.facebook.com/wagifted

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7. The following material is adapted from Advice for New Gifted Education Specialists by Tamara Fisher on her blog Unwrapping the Gifted. Ms. Fisher is a nationally recognized leader in the field of gifted education and is the gifted specialist in a district in Montana. Her blog appears on Education Week Teacher at http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/unwrapping_the_gifted/

This particular essay is advice for newly minted gifted specialists but so much of it applies to parents who advocate on a local level I couldn’t help but quote from parts of it to share it with you.

By Tamara Fisher

1. Connect with others who do what you do. You will need a support network of others who “get it” and speak the same language. Join your local, state and national gifted education associations.

2. Be okay with not being popular. You won’t be everyone’s favorite person, and some will dislike or be cynical about you simply because of your position. Some will cringe or roll their eyes (literally or internally) when you speak up at meetings. Yes, being an advocate for your student will often mean others won’t be keen on you. So be it. *shrug* Now you know who your allies are – and are not. Now you know who needs to be the object of further efforts on your part to educate them about the needs of gifted learners.

3. Be ready to commit to committees. If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu. Even if others in your school or district understand the needs of gifted and advanced learners, that doesn’t mean they are as prepared and as willing and as mindful to be a voice for these kids as you are.

4. Nurture and support positive working relationships with your administrators and school board members. They are often the final deciders, and whether or not they have some understanding of the needs of gifted learners (and therefore how those needs are impacted by their decisions) may depend on whether or not you’ve made or taken advantage of opportunities to educate them about those needs. Be positive. Be proactive. Be persistent.

5. Know your stuff. You must become the local expert on these kids. There’s a lot of misinformation out there regarding what is and is not best for advanced learners. It will frequently fall to you to clear up the confusion or to set someone straight or make the distinction between research-based best practice and long-held mythology.

6. And finally, be proactive. Gifted students are (among) the most misunderstood, overlooked, inadequately taught learners in our classrooms… because others think they are okay on their own or where they are. But okay isn’t good enough. The needs of gifted students stem from their strengths, and helping others to understand this counterintuitive reality is now part of your aim.

Get ready and go out and talk to your legislators and administrators about the need for appropriate programs for highly capable learners. Be a warrior, an advocate, a leader, an expert, an ally – if necessary, a burr under someone’s saddle.

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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.

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The Legislative session has finally come to an end. In virtually last minute votes, the Legislature approved a budget (E2SHB 1087) which is “kind” to gifted programs; enacted the new “minimum instructional program of basic education” and the HCP funding formula in ESSB 5919, effective September 2011; and failed to enact the Recommendations of the Highly Capable Program Technical Working Group (bills 1443 and 2111).

It will take us awhile to sort out the details of what this all means and where it leaves gifted programs for the next school year, but here are some preliminary remarks.

• The budget has two parts. Another supplemental for the current year was part of 1087. It made no changes to HCP funding, beyond what was done in the 5th supplemental (HB 1086).

• In the biennial budget for 2011-2013, enhanced funding is provided under the new formula for HCP. It is both good news and bad. Depending on what base line you use, the funding for districts took a cut of between $200,000 and $250,000. Harder hit were our associated programs. Centrum took a 50% cut in its funding and Future Problem Solving/Destination ImagiNation took a 100% cut in funding.

• ESSB 5919 authorizes the implementation of education reform measures  (the “minimum instructional program of basic education”) beginning September 2011. Among its provisions is the new formula for calculating HCP enhanced funds. See Sec. 2(10)( c ) of the bill. This means that HCP services will be a mandated part of basic education. Nothing in either this bill nor the budget requires districts to offer any particular program or service, only that appropriate services must be provided. Districts remain free to determine what level of services are needed within the district. Districts will need to apply to OSPI for the enhanced funds, as they have for the categorical funds in the past. and submit their plan for approval.

While becoming a mandated part of basic education with an adequate funding appropriation is fulfillment of a long time Coalition goal, in view of the draconian cuts to education and social services, we aren’t celebrating too loudly.

What we do say loudly is a big vote of THANKS to all the advocates in the state whose efforts made this possible. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Below is section 511 of the biennial budget

NEW SECTION. Sec. 511. FOR PROGRAMS FOR HIGHLY CAPABLE STUDENTS

General Fund–State Appropriation (FY 2012) . . . .$8,741,000
General Fund–State Appropriation (FY 2013) . . .  $8,794,000
TOTAL APPROPRIATION…………….   $17,535,000

The appropriations in this section are subject to the following conditions and limitations

(1) Each general fund fiscal year appropriation includes such funds as are necessary to complete the school year ending in the fiscal year and for prior fiscal year adjustments.

(2)(a) For the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years, the superintendent shall allocate funding to school district programs for highly capable students as provided in RCW 28A.150.260(10)(c). In calculating the allocations, the superintendent shall assume the following: (i) Additional instruction of 2.1590 hours per week per funded highly capable program student; (ii) fifteen highly capable program students per teacher; (iii) 36 instructional weeks per year; (iv) 900 instructional hours per teacher; and (v) the district’s average staff mix and compensation rates as provided in sections 503 and 504 of this act.
(b) From July 1, 2011, to August 31, 2011, the superintendent shall allocate funding to school districts programs for highly capable students as provided in section 511, chapter 564, Laws of 2009, as amended through section 1409 of this act.

(3) $85,000 of the general fund–state appropriation for fiscal year 2012 and $85,000 of the general fund–state appropriation for fiscal year 2013 are provided solely for the centrum program at Fort Worden state park.

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THE BUDGET

The good news from the House and Senate is that the budgets passed in each house provide for implementation of education reform in September 2011 (Highly Capable Programming becomes a mandated part of basic education) and adequate funding for HCP. These provisions are part of the effort to implement education reform in September 2011, as originally scheduled, and show that reform can be implemented even in difficult financial times.

The House version of the 2011-2013 biennial budget contains funding for Highly Capable Programs and $50,000 for Centrum. See Appendix I below for budget details as approved by the House.

The Senate version of the 2011-2013 biennial budget contains funding for Highly Capable Programs and $85,000 for Centrum. See Appendix II at the end of this message for budget details  as approved by the Senate.

The House proposal comes to a total of $18,146,000 for the biennium, the Senate  to $17,705,000. Our goals for this session included Highly Capable Programs becoming a part of basic education in September 2011 with adequate enhanced funding. These goals are met in either of these budget proposals.

Since the state first began funding in 1984, Centrum and Future Problem Solving and Destination ImagiNation were essential elements in Highly Capable Program funding. We are disappointed that Centrum funding  was cut by $102,000 per year in the House proposal and $67,000 per year in the Senate. The reduced funding may keep the Centrum program alive.

We are disappointed that funding for Future Problem Solving and Destination ImagiNation was eliminated in both budgets. We made extensive efforts to have this funding restored but were unsuccessful. These programs provide opportunities for gifted and accelerated students that local districts are unable to offer. The need for these opportunities will continue to exist even after HCP becomes a part of basic education and we deeply regret that they are eliminated.

OTHER BILLS

Sections 207-208-209 of E2SHB 1443 will implement the recommendations of the Highly Capable Program Technical Work Group with a new definition of a highly capable student and more detailed guidance for discovery and identification of qualified students. The bill has passed both chambers in different forms so the process of concurrence and/or reconciliation has commenced.

Both budget proposals contain funding for OSPI to formulate new WACs to implement E2SHB 1443.

We will keep you informed.

Thank you for all the advocacy you have done during this Legislative session. The all-out effort for the supplemental budget (HB 1086) set the tone for the rest of the session and gave us a very strong base from which to operate.

Appendix I – House budget proposal  HB 1087

NEW SECTION. Sec. 511. FOR PROGRAMS FOR HIGHLY CAPABLE STUDENTS  
General Fund–State Appropriation (FY 2012) . . . $8,965,000
General Fund–State Appropriation (FY 2013) . . . $9,081,000
TOTAL APPROPRIATION…………….      $18,046,000

The appropriations in this section are subject to the following conditions and limitations:
(1) Each general fund fiscal year appropriation includes such funds as are necessary to complete the school year ending in the fiscal year and for prior fiscal year adjustments.
(2)(a) For the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years, the superintendent shall allocate funding to school district programs for highly capable students as provided in RCW 28A.150.260(10)(c). In calculating the allocations, the superintendent shall assume the following: (i) Additional instruction of 2.1590 hours per week per funded highly capable program student; (ii) fifteen highly capable program students per teacher; (iii) 36 instructional weeks per year; (iv) 900 instructional hours per teacher; and (v) the district’s average staff mix and compensation rates as provided in sections 503 and 504 of this act.
(b) From July 1, 2011, to August 31, 2011, the superintendent shall allocate funding to school districts programs for highly capable students as provided in section 511, chapter 564, Laws of 2009, as amended through section 1409 of this act.

Sec. 513

(16) $50,000 of the fiscal year 2012 appropriation and $50,000 of the fiscal year 2013 appropriation are provided for the centrum program at Fort Worden state park.

Appendix II – Senate budget  ESHB 1087

NEW SECTION. Sec. 511. FOR PROGRAMS FOR HIGHLY CAPABLE STUDENTS
11 General Fund–State Appropriation (FY 2012) . . . . . . . . $8,886,000
12 General Fund–State Appropriation (FY 2013) . . . . . . . . $8,819,000
13 TOTAL APPROPRIATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$17,705,000
14 The appropriations in this section are subject to the following
15 conditions and limitations:
16 (1) Each general fund fiscal year appropriation includes such funds
17 as are necessary to complete the school year ending in the fiscal year
18 and for prior fiscal year adjustments.
19 (2)(a) For the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years, the superintendent
20 shall allocate funding to school district programs for highly capable
21 students as provided in RCW 28A.150.260(10)(c). In calculating the
22 allocations, the superintendent shall assume the following: (i)
23 Additional instruction of 2.1590 hours per week per funded highly
24 capable program student; (ii) fifteen highly capable program students
25 per teacher; (iii) 36 instructional weeks per year; (iv) 900
26 instructional hours per teacher; and (v) the district’s average staff
27 mix and compensation rates as provided in sections 503 and 504 of this
28 act.
29 (b) From July 1, 2011, to August 31, 2011, the superintendent shall
30 allocate funding to school districts programs for highly capable
31 students as provided in section 511, chapter 564, Laws of 2009, as
32 amended through section 1409 of this act.
33 (3) $85,000 of the general fund–state appropriation for fiscal
34 year 2012 and $85,000 of the general fund–state appropriation for
35 fiscal year 2013 are provided solely for the centrum program at Fort
36 Worden state

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