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Government Relations

Government Relations in Seattle Public Schools is focused on promoting student learning by ensuring students, families, staff members and schools have the resources and services they need to effectively educate every child.

Ongoing Activity in Seattle Public Schools

  • Developing an annual legislative agenda for Seattle Public Schools
  • Communicating with local, state and federal officials about the district’s initiatives and legislative goals

State Legislative Priorities

Seattle has four priorities for the 2023 session:

  • Addressing Funding Gaps in Basic Education
  • Supporting Student Learning
  • Supporting Student Well-Being
  • Providing Stable and Equitable Operation

2023 Legislative Priorities

Addressing Funding Gaps in Basic Education

We are committed to improving outcomes for all students through the provision of basic education with the services and supports students need to engage in their learning. The current formulas to allocate state funding to school districts for Special Education and Transportation—key components of basic education—result in funding gaps that require districts to use local funds to cover the costs to meet students’ needs. To address these structural issues and ensure every student is provided state-funded access to their basic education and mandated services, the funding formulas for Special Education Funding and Transportation Funding need to be revised to fully fund the costs of these services.

  • Special Education. Fully fund special education services at the state level to cover the cost of serving students, as determined by their IEPs (Individual Education Plans) or their Section 504 accommodations. Invest in inclusionary practices and provide resources for required language supports for multilingual families, so all families can engage in the IEP process.
  • Transportation. Revise the student transportation funding formula to be transparent, predictable, and fully cover the actual costs of student transportation. Allow additional types of vehicles to qualify for funding to provide more flexibility and stabilize operations. Continue the progress of the 2022 Legislature in providing additional funding to address excess costs to transport special passengers. Additional revisions are necessary to fully fund specialized transportation to accommodate disabilities indicated in students’ IEP or 504 plans and for students in other protected categories, such as students experiencing homelessness and students in foster care.

Supporting Student Learning

We are focusing on the heart of what we do as a school system: providing excellence in education for every student through high-quality teaching and learning experiences to prepare every Seattle Public Schools student for college, career, and community. To do this, students need access to learning supports like tutoring, and guidance on preparing for the next step, like mentoring. We also need to provide culturally responsive curriculum and instruction for students.

  • Equity Based Supports. Provide supports for the diverse needs of all students—particularly Black, Native American, and Latinx students. Invest in access to mentoring and tutoring programs that support the whole student and prepare them for college, career, and life.
  • Culturally Responsive Curriculum and Courses. Invest in curriculum that is aligned with best practice, culturally responsive, and representative of diverse student backgrounds, history, and experience—including Black Studies, American Indian Studies, and Latinx Studies. Invest in the development and implementation of ethnic studies in districts, in alignment with the Washington State Ethnic Studies Framework and Essential Academic Learning Standards.

Supporting Student Well-Being

We recognize and appreciate the investments the Legislature has made in supporting student well-being in the 2021 and 2022 legislative sessions. To best support our students during the COVID-19 pandemic, we utilized the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to provide additional supports to our students, families, and educators— including trauma-informed mental health and social emotional supports, as well as restorative practices. The ESSER funds and federal funding for meals for all students were one-time funds, but the needs of our students, families, and educators for these supports continue.

  • Mental Health and Social Emotional Learning. Invest in maintaining culturally responsive, trauma-informed services and supports in mental health and social emotional learning for students and educators.
  • Restorative Practices. Provide resources to transform school environments through restorative justice practices for students, particularly Black, Native American, and Latinx students, and their families. Provide resources that allow us to change school culture, utilize alternatives to exclusionary discipline, repair harm caused by the impacts of disproportionate discipline and structural racism, and transform student to student and staff to student relationships.
  • Family Inclusion and Partnership. Invest in family engagement staff in Middle and High Schools and increase investments in Elementary Schools. Invest in family engagement supports including interpretation and translation services that honor family and student culture, language, and lived experience to enable all families to engage and be included in their students’ learning, access information, participate in IEP meetings, and connect with basic needs supports.
  • School Meals For All Learners. Provide healthy school meals to all of Washington’s learners as an essential support for success in learning. Ensure every student has the same opportunity for meals with state funding to supplement federal reimbursement and cover costs for schools who are not eligible to participate in federal universal meal options.

Providing Stable and Equitable Operations

To accomplish our goals for Seattle students, we must attract and retain diverse, culturally responsive, and effective educators and provide high-quality learning environments and tools for students and educators.

  • Equitable Compensation to Retain and Recruit Diverse Work Force. Current law (adopted in 2017’s EHB 2242) requires the Legislature, beginning in 2023, to regularly review and rebase minimum salaries, including regionalization and experience factors, to ensure salary allocations continue to align with staffing costs for the state’s program of basic education. In rebasing minimum salaries, consider the regional actual costs to districts of attracting and retaining a diverse workforce. Develop and implement multiple educator pathways and incentives to ensure sufficient and diverse staff are available to districts.
  • High Quality and Sustainable Capital Investments. Provide state capital funding for accessible, high-quality learning environments. Allow the use of capital funds to purchase electric vehicles to address climate change and reduce the district’s carbon footprint. Allow for flexibility in the use of local capital funds to cover maintenance costs and purchase curriculum.

The District’s Role

The district is actively lobbying our legislature to fully fund education. However, we are legally prohibited from encouraging the public to lobby on our behalf .

School Board members and SPS staff serve as advocates for Seattle Public Schools at the local, state and federal level. Part of the group’s work is to speak on behalf of all children and youth before governmental bodies and other organizations. 

In order to comply with state and federal rules, School Board and staff work with members of both political parties in order to enact change. When Seattle School Board members or district staff participate in legislative activities that educate lawmakers about officially adopted School Board positions or support a particular piece of legislation that is in agreement with the adopted legislative program, it is done on a strictly non-partisan basis.

Resources

We encourage interested students, parents, staff and community members to learn about the issues facing public education in Washington state. This webpage provides important information and links regarding the legislative work in Olympia as well as our county and city. It is important for our school system and society to have an informed and engaged citizenry.

Who represents you?

Find which congressional and legislative districts you live in and information about your local legislators at the Washington State Legislature’s District Lookup

Federal

Washington’s U.S. Congressional Delegation

Legislative information from the Library of Congress

U.S. Department of Education

State

City

Local advocacy groups