Advocacy Update

Even though this is a short legislative session, there are several proposed bills that would have a significant impact on our district. As parents we know these issues matter a great deal to you so we are providing an avenue to have your voices heard.


A bill currently being considered by the Washington State Senate has the potential to increase funding for MISD, if passed. State Senator Lisa Wellman, who represents Mercer Island in the Washington State Senate, has co-sponsored Senate Bill 5956, "An Act Relating to Enrichment Levies," that would amend a law currently capping the amount of local taxes that can be used to support a school district, including teacher salaries. The amendment proposes applying a regionalization factor to the local levy authority of a given district, so that areas like Mercer Island, which have higher costs of living, would be able to raise more funding through school levies.


The bill was requested by the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and was heard in the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Committee in mid-January and by the Ways & Means Committee on February 3rd where it is currently being considered.


During one hearing, Senator Wellman shared her view that "By adding the regionalization factor when calculating the district's levy capacity, communities that want to spend more on enrichment activities will have the ability to do so." The bill will not impact state funding, but will allow certain communities to increase local funding of their school district.


You can learn more about the bill here and watch the Committee hearing here. For those who wish to share their views on the bill, comments can be shared via this link.


A second bill, SSB 5882 and its companion bill HB1960, would increase State funding for paraprofessionals and non-instructional support staff in all schools statewide. As of February 3, 2024, the bill has been considered by the Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee and the Ways and Means Committee. This bill is not expected to have an immediate impact on MISD’s ability to further fund paraprofessionals and non-instructional support staff. You can read the full text of the Senate Bill here and the House bill here. Comments regarding the bills can be submitted here.


Last but not least, The Seattle Times published an editorial on January 23rd regarding proposed changes to the law requiring a 60% supermajority vote to fund capital improvements for schools such as school building improvements, athletic facilities, safety upgrades, and accessibility. HJR4207 would reduce the voter approval threshold to 55%. This resolution was initially introduced during last year's legislative session but its progress stalled. It has been reintroduced this session and was considered during a hearing on January 30, 2024, but appears to have stalled again. You can watch the session here or send comments to our legislators here.


To follow the status of these and other pending bills this legislative session, go to the WA State PTA Advocacy page.