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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

Washington Lawmakers, Gov. Inslee aim to help paraeducators

Governor's budget would pay for a pay hike for paraeducators

By Griffin Reilly, Columbian staff writer
Published: March 9, 2024, 6:12am
3 Photos
Gov. Jay Inslee, second from right, and his wife, Trudi, meet with local teachers, parents, administrators and staff to talk about special education challenges at Ogden Elementary School on Feb. 9.
Gov. Jay Inslee, second from right, and his wife, Trudi, meet with local teachers, parents, administrators and staff to talk about special education challenges at Ogden Elementary School on Feb. 9. (Photos by Amanda Cowan/The Columbian files) Photo Gallery

Representatives from Vancouver Public Schools met with Gov. Jay Inslee in early February to showcase Ogden Elementary School’s paraeducators and special education services.

At the meeting, parents, staff and administrators made it clear to the longtime governor: Paraeducators need more help. Inslee acknowledged the plight of paraeducators. He said the state must recognize the increased role the positions have played in the classroom over the past decade.

The governor’s supplemental budget includes $64 million to support an estimated $3 per hour wage increase for paraeducators, adjusted by region. The boost would amount to an approximate 11 percent wage increase on average, according to the governor’s office.

The budget will not be finalized until April. However, the Legislature passed two bills, now headed to the governor’s desk, that would increase state supports for paraeducators and other classified personnel.

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Gov. Jay Inslee, second from right, and his wife, Trudi, meet with local teachers, parents, administrators and staff to talk about special education challenges at Ogden Elementary School on Feb. 9.Washington Lawmakers, Gov. Inslee aim to help paraeducators
Representatives from Vancouver Public Schools met with Gov. Jay Inslee in early February to showcase Ogden Elementary School’s paraeducators and special education services.

House Bill 1277

House Bill 1277 would require the state to fund four days of core training sessions for paraeducators. Previously, the state funded two days of such training.

The bill would apply to all paraeducators hired before Sept. 1 of the school year. When funding is appropriated, smaller school districts will be required to offer two such training days for new staff prior to Sept. 30. The third and fourth days must be provided within six months of the hiring date.

For school districts with more than 10,000 students — which would apply to Evergreen, Vancouver and Battle Ground — the first two days of training must be provided within four months of the date of hire. The third and fourth days must be provided within six months of the date of hire or by Sept. 1 of the following year; whichever comes sooner.

Senate Bill 5882

Senate Bill 5882 would slightly boost how much money the state provides districts for paraeducator and student support positions. The districts still have say over how the funding is used.

Prior to this bill, the state funded 0.936 “teaching assistant” positions per elementary school, 0.7 positions per middle school and 0.652 positions per high school.

The bill’s changes to the model are marginal increases to the ratio for each position. The bill also changes the name of the “teaching assistant” position to “paraeducator.”

The state would fund 1.021 paraeducator positions per elementary school, 0.776 positions per middle school and 0.728 positions per high school. The funding would be issued retroactively to the start of the 2023-2024 school year.

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