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WEA bill reduces class sizes – as the Legislature promised

WEA’s proposal for reducing overcrowded class sizes is House Bill 1673.

The bill is sponsored by 14 state House Democrats, and unlike so-called education reform bills in the state Senate, HB 1673 implements reforms that actually benefit students. It fulfills a promise the Legislature already made: reducing class sizes so students get the individual attention and support they need to succeed.

Washington’s class sizes are the fourth most overcrowded in the country, and they’ve gotten more crowded after $2.6 billion in state budget cuts over the last four years.

“Our district is overcrowded and it’s getting worse,” said Colleen Wing, a LaCenter Education Association member and teacher of 23 years.

HB 1673 funds class-size reductions driven by education reform laws the Legislature passed in 2009 and 2010 but hasn’t funded. For example, it reduces K-3 class sizes from 25 students to 17 students by 2018. The bill includes a phase-in schedule that incrementally increases funding for smaller class sizes in each of the next five school years:

Class Size

Total

Annual

Grade Level

2012-13

2017-18

Reduction

Reduction

K-3

25.23

17

8.23

1.646

4

27.00

25

2.00

0.400

5-6

27.00

25

2.00

0.400

7-8

28.53

25

3.53

0.706

9-12

28.74

25

3.74

0.748

High School Voc

26.57

19

7.57

1.514

Skills Centers

22.76

16

6.76

1.352

K-3 Poverty

24.10

15

9.10

1.820

4 Poverty

27.00

22

5.00

1.000

5-6 Poverty

27.00

23

4.00

0.800

7-8 Poverty

28.53

23

5.53

1.106

9-12 Poverty

28.74

23

5.74

1.148

HB 1673 also increases funding to increase the number of education support professionals and education staff associates such as nurses and counselors. All of the increases are based on previous legislation or recommendations from the state Quality Education Council, which was commissioned by House Bill 2261 in 2009.

This chart shows how legislative budget cuts have increased class sizes in recent years:

Grade Level

 

2009-10

State-Funded

Class Size (all)

2012-13

State-Funded 

Class Size

2012-13

High-Poverty

Class Size

Class Size K-3

22.24

25.23

24.10

Class Size Grade 4

22.33

27.00

27.00

Class Size 5-6

26.23

27.00

27.00

Class Size 7-8

27.70

28.53

28.53

Class Size 9-12

27.87

28.74

28.74

High School Vocational

26.57

26.57

26.57

Class Size Skills Centers

22.76

22.76

22.76

Read HB 1673 in its entirety.

Here is a website with research about the benefits of smaller class sizes.

Here is the chart that shows how Washington students are packed into the fourth-most-crowded class sizes in the United States.

HB 1673 sponsors include Representatives Liias, Sells, Appleton, Maxwell, Morrell, Lytton, Pollet, Hunt, McCoy, Seaquist, Santos, Reykdal, Ryu and Bergquist.

 

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