OLYMPIA, WA — Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal is publicly thanking the legislature for setting aside millions of dollars in state fund to help improve local schools.
“Most notably, the Legislature made significant increases in the funding provided to schools for staffing to support students’ physical, mental, and emotional health,” Rekydal said in a public statement Friday. “Funding for these additional staff will be phased-in over the next few years, and schools will begin receiving additional resources for these positions by next fall – having a near-immediate impact on our schools’ ability to support students in pandemic recovery.”
The legislative session ended Thursday, though Gov. Inslee has up to 20 days to sign some of the later bills into law. Among the dozens of bills passed by the legislature was a $1.5 billion investment in infrastructure, which included $100 million to retrofit or replace public schools in high seismic areas or in tsunami zones— a substantial investment which Reykdal says recognizes the need for all students to learn in a safe building.
“In addition, the Legislature invested in expanding access to financial education, modernizing mathematics, ensuring all families can engage with their child’s school in their native language, streamlining the process for families to apply for free and reduced-price meals, enhancing student media literacy, modernizing equipment in skill center healthcare simulation labs, and more,” Reykdal said.
Another big bill for schools was House Bill 1878, which will require all of Washington’s public schools to participate in the USDA’s Community Eligibility Program if eligible, and gives them the money to pay for the program’s free school meals.
The USDA’s Community Eligibility Program is available to schools with a high number of students whose households receive assistance from SNAP or medicaid, are struggling with housing stability, or are in foster care. Those schools can apply and receive free meals for all of their students. Currently, 491 Washington schools participate in the program, and 9 more are in the process of joining, but HB 1878 will expand the program to an additional 626 schools.
“I’m grateful to the budget writers and all of the legislators who honorably serve on the education and fiscal committees. This session, they made a clear statement about Washington’s commitment to our students, educators, and families,” the superintendent’s statement closes.
Source: Bellevue Patch