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Reykdal: Legislature’s Budget Shows Support for Students, Families, and Schools

ospi, office of superintendent of public instruction, public schoolsDespite the complexities of this legislative session and the variety of pandemic-related needs throughout our state, policymakers made significant investments in K–12 education and early learning that will have positive outcomes for students, families, and educators for years to come.

The Operating Budget provides significant resources to accelerate student learning and well-being recovery, and the Capital Budget investments will provide schools with resources during a critical time to improve building safety.

WA OSPI Chris Reykdal
WA OSPI Chris Reykdal | courtesy photo

The leaders and members of the education and budget committees were key partners in ensuring schools and communities had the resources they need to support students, families, and educators as we head into the next school year and beyond.

Student Learning, Mental Health, & Well-Being

Students are returning to their school buildings with more mental and behavioral health needs than ever before. The Legislature is funding additional school counselors in elementary, middle, and high schools that have the highest proportions of students and their families experiencing poverty. In addition, the Legislature is supporting health needs in small schools by expanding the regional Nurse Corps program.

As they return to school buildings, many students would benefit from additional support for learning recovery and acceleration. The Legislature supports student learning by providing funds for schools and community-based organizations to deliver intensive supports to students who need it most, afterschool and summer programs, dual language programs, career and technical education, outdoor learning programs, and more.

Over the past year, our state has worked hard to close gaps in access to technology for students. The Legislature sustains and grows this commitment by maintaining funding for home internet access for students experiencing poverty, as well as adding more funds to support access to broadband and other critical educational technology needs.

School Buildings & Facilities

This year, we asked the Legislature to make numerous critical investments to ensure all students have access to safe, healthy, and effective learning environments; and all school districts have equitable opportunity to fund them.

Through the Capital Budget, legislators invested in our small and rural schools who have critical building system repair needs, necessary seismic retrofits to make our buildings safe in an earthquake, repairs for unhealthy drinking water stations in schools, school construction grants, and other important investments for building health, safety, and effectiveness for learning.

Supporting Schools & Districts

Due to issues with the school transportation funding formula and declining student enrollments during the pandemic, most school districts are facing budget shortfalls that will negatively impact their ability to provide students with the supports they need as school buildings reopen fully. The Legislature provides substantial resources to fill these gaps so districts can maintain necessary operations and supports when they need it most.

Our state’s paraeducators play a vital role in supporting student learning and social-emotional well-being. The Legislature continues their commitment to paraeducators by funding two professional learning days per year beginning in 2023. They also provide funds for the creation of a training program for paraeducators on community, family, and student engagement.

2021–22 School Year & Beyond

I am grateful for the important work by our policymakers this session despite the complex circumstances of the pandemic. In addition to providing crucial supports to our schools, the Legislature also provided necessary funds to support early learning and childcare, environmental protections and sustainability, mental and behavioral health, and more.

As we continue to learn more about the impacts of the pandemic and plan for the 2021–22 school year and beyond, we know we have legislative majorities committed to investing the necessary resources for student success.

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