EKCC Education 2017
Employers in East King County struggle to fill available jobs with Washington state residents. Education is the key to closing this gap, beginning with early education (ages 3-4), and ending with the completion of higher education. Our state’s students need to graduate high school with the skills needed to pursue higher education and attain high demand jobs in STEM, information technology, finance, and health care industries. Yet, too many students graduate high school without these skills and face higher education systems which struggle with budgets so tight that they have difficulty providing the qualified instructors, classroom space, and equipment required for the classes students need to prepare for these jobs.
Therefore, we are asking the legislature to:
- Fund basic education: Develop a transparent state system for funding basic K-12 education, accounting for differences in regional cost of living and student education needs. Ensure “basic education” is defined to result in students graduating from the K-12 system prepared to pursue higher education and attain available jobs.
- The current school district apportionment formula was adopted in 2010. Now is the time to revisit assumptions behind the prototypical school model, including staffing ratios for nurses, social workers and mental health professionals, as well as security officers and technology support staff.
- Allow local districts to levy for enhancements, outside of basic education. Develop predictable state funding to aid in the costs of building classrooms when needed to comply with state requirements.
- Increase support for high quality preschool education for our state’s most vulnerable populations this year and make it part of “basic education” in future years.
- Implement recommendations of the Legislative Task Force on School Siting: Designate schools, including higher education institutions, as “essential public facilities” under the GMA and allow school siting outside of the UGAs.
- Move the collective bargaining of salary and benefits for all K-12 employees to the state: Given its impact on the state budget (almost half), bargaining for education employee salaries should be an open/transparent process, more efficiently accomplished at the state level.
- Increase college credit opportunities and skills training in high schools: Provide support, which may include professional development for teachers, to significantly increase ‘college in the high school’ and/or Running Start opportunities, including skills training for non-college bound students in all high schools at no cost to the student.
- Enhance accountability and improve outcomes: Set meaningful, open, and transparent accountability measures that report by district the percentage of students who graduate college and career ready and require steady increases. All state district schools should improve their college readiness rates by 10%.
- Fund market-based salaries for ALL education employees, including institutions of higher learning: Account for regional cost of living and other factors which impact attracting and retaining employees.
- Fully fund the State Need Grant Program and the Washington Opportunity Scholarship Fund.
- Fund capital facilities and expansion of high demand degree programs offered by Bellevue College, Cascadia College, Lake Washington Institute of Technology and University of Washington Bothell.