OLYMPIA…The state Senate today gave overwhelming support to a pair of bills intended to improve the delivery of special-education services in Washington’s public schools. Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, is the prime sponsor of one of those measures: Senate Bill 5532, which focuses on policy changes to support families and equip teachers. He said this following the unanimous vote to send his bipartisan legislation to the House of Representatives:
“Our state can and should do better at serving students with special education needs, and the parents of those students have made it clear that funding is not the main issue. They’re looking for help in navigating the system, and advocating for the specific needs of their children, and a more effective transition to further education and training after high school. And they recognize that professional development for teachers – all teachers, not just those in special education – is key to including students with disabilities in a general classroom. This bill is about all of those things, and I’m glad it was supported by so many of my colleagues.
“It’s important to realize that if SB 5532 and the second special-education bill we passed today become law, support for special education would be on track to increase by nearly $900 million in the next budget alone. A commitment of that size is proof that our school districts don’t need more local-levy authority to support special education – it means the Legislature is ready to respond to this and other funding needs that reach across our state’s K-12 system. Especially when those needs are about ensuring fairness and complying with our constitutional obligation to provide for the education of all children.”
Funding for special education totals $2.04 billion in the current state operating budget, which runs through June.