With one month behind us in this 105-day legislative session, WFIS is working fervently on maneuvering details in several bills that will have lasting effects on private schools. Political motivation is intense, and increasing oversight of private schools is the smoke screen for negative public school press. There’s one more week before the committee cut-off, so we need to kill and promote bills we care about this coming week.

HB 1377 would allow all clock-hour providers to provide CCDEI training using the PESB standards. Things got complicated at the hearing as PESB and OSPI were not happy with their requirement to “… list of approved courses on its website”. It is scheduled for a vote next week in the Education Committee.

SB 5515 will apply to private boarding schools, now states, “Residential private schools are exempt from DCYF’s licensing requirements if SBE determines that the school is accredited through a body approved by SBE, and that accreditation covers student living accommodations comparable to DCYF’s licensing requirements, in consultation with DCYF.” This is a step in the right direction, but still requires too much oversight and WFIS needs to be added to the “in consultation” stipulation. This bill was voted on and will move on to Ways and Means.

SB 5315 puts into law the current protocols for the relationship between NonPublic Agencies, Districts, and OSPI. The NPAs and Senate Staff have put hours of work into this bill. We hope it will get an executive session for a vote next week.

SB 5059 received a hearing last week. This bill requires that victims in court cases settled in court are required to receive prejudgement interest dating back to the time of the incident. The bill takes away the ability of a judge or jury to do its job and determine if prejudgment interest is appropriate. It also means that a school could be saddled with a prejudgement bill that is out of scope for the determined damages.

HB 1550 has several hearings next week to continue adjusting parameters around the Transitional Kindergarten (TK). TK allows four-year-olds to join Kindergarten classes as a means to generate Basic Education Funding. Though some areas in the state see this as a much-needed option, some are in direct competition with qualified, licensed early learning providers yet require no program licensing. WFIS continues to offer feedback on changes to this bill.

SB 5048 allows public school students to take college-in-the-classroom courses without the cost of college credits. The bill passed the first committee and was sent to Ways and Means to discuss cost. Please get in touch with Senators Mullet and Rolfes to let them know you would like your low-income high schoolers to receive the same opportunity. (Mark.Mullet@leg.wa.gov and Christine.Rolfes@leg.wa.gov)

HB 1615 This Education Savings Account plan would allow students to use state-procured savings to attend private school as one of their options. Many states are establishing these exciting programs to help parents choose where to educate their children. This bill has yet to be scheduled for a hearing.

SB 1479 limits isolation and restraint and requires schools to report if either is used. WFIS was consulted and supported the latest version of the bill. It is scheduled for an executive session vote on February 16.

SB 5225 & 5423 would allow parents who are child care center employees and those taking part in apprenticeship programs access to subsidies. The first was voted on and will head on to Ways and Means. The latter had a hearing this week.