OLYMPIA, Wash., September 23, 2022 — At the center of Superintendent Reykdal’s budget priorities for the 2023 Legislative Session is an unwavering commitment to supporting all of Washington’s learners with a K–12 public education that is geared toward their interests, prepares them to serve as tomorrow’s leaders, and allows them to thrive as themselves.
“Over the past few years, Washington state has made enormous progress in fully funding basic education,” Reykdal said. “These investments have translated to rising graduation rates, promising levels of growth in performance on state assessments as our students recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and a steady ranking near the top nationally for student performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.”
“However,” Reykdal continued, “Washington continues to lag the national average for the share of our Gross State Product (GSP) we invest in our public schools. In a state that is home to some of the most successful companies in the world, Washington has an opportunity to be a national leader in how we support and prepare both our students and educators with equitable access to rigorous, hands-on learning aligned to their individual interests and goals.”
The Superintendent’s budget priorities will remove financial barriers to student learning, fill gaps in the educator workforce, follow through on changes and innovations set forth by the Legislature, strengthen core elements of the education system, and make further progress on transformations developed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A summary of the Superintendent’s proposals is below.
Transforming Student Learning & Well-Being
Now more than ever, Washington’s students and their families are seeking opportunities to engage in learning that is relevant, rigorous, and prepares them for lifelong success in a world that is rapidly evolving. The Superintendent’s budget aims to expand student access to learning a second language throughout elementary school, hands-on science learning opportunities, regional pre-apprenticeship programs to prepare students for future work in trades fields, early literacy for our youngest learners, and more. The Superintendent’s budget would also fully fund the services provided to students with disabilities, when currently, many school districts are relying on local funding to provide these critical supports.
In addition, the Superintendent seeks to remove student and family costs from basic education, which serve as a barrier for many students. This includes no longer requiring families to purchase school supplies, pay for test or course fees for high school dual credit courses (for example, Running Start and Advanced Placement), or pay for meals during the school day.
Recruiting and Retaining Effective, Diverse Educators
Washington state, like the rest of the nation, is facing shortages of highly skilled educators who reflect the diversity of the students they serve. When educators and school leaders are supported and retained within their school for a period of time, student achievement and feelings of belonging increase. The Superintendent’s budget aims to expand mentorship supports for beginning educators, a proven method of increasing retention; strengthen the pipeline for effective, highly trained school principals; and sustain a strong educator workforce through paid teacher residencies, an innovative student teaching model where a preservice teacher spends a full school year learning on the job from a mentor teacher while also completing coursework toward their certification.
Legislatively Directed Enhancements
Over the past few years, the Legislature has committed to additional changes to the state’s K–12 education system through work assigned to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), including ensuring digital connectivity and devices for our students, examining school staff proportions and compensation, and developing a more streamlined and accessible online application for families applying for free and reduced-price school meals for their children. The Superintendent’s proposals will realize each of these legislatively directed transformations and the investment and vision of our state lawmakers.
Providing Safe and Modern School Buildings
Many school districts do not have access to the resources needed to make necessary improvements to their school buildings to address health and safety concerns, utilize space most effectively for evolving learning needs, or create learning environments that foster healthy activities and lifestyles for students. The Superintendent’s budget priorities would make progress on each of these needs, emphasizing equitable access to necessary funds for small and rural school districts.
Content Source: OSPI Press Release