There was good news and excellent news for Highly Capable Programming in the initial House Democratic Budget proposal released on 4/4.
The 2011 – 2013 budget proposes just over $18 million in funding for highly capable programming over the next two years. That is very comparable to the amounts funded from 2009 – 2011, which was the base for the formulas. That’s the good news. The excellent news is that the $18 million is calculated using new formulas implemented in last session’s education reform bills, and would represent an inclusion of highly capable programming in the State’s definition of basic education. This would be a significant step towards protecting state highly capable funding in future years and towards moving forward on the promise of education reform for highly capable learners.
We were disappointed to see that Centrum and Destination ImagiNation, two programs that had previously been funded alongside highly capable programming in the State budget, were not funded in the 2011 – 2013 proposal. We are working on getting these funds restored.
No alternative proposals have yet been released in either the House or the Senate. A House Republican proposal may be released on Wednesday, but House Democrats are confident they have the votes necessary to pass their proposal as presented. There is not yet a date scheduled for a vote on the House Democratic Budget proposal, and we don’t yet know when any budget proposals from the Senate may be released. While this is just the beginning of what could be a long process, this puts highly capable programs in a stronger position than has been seen in recent years.
Additional legislation that would provide for an improved definition of highly capable learners and establish improved identification criteria (E2SHB 1443) has also passed key votes in both the House and Senate. Members of the Washington Coalition for Gifted Education testified before the House Education Committee in favor of the bill and worked with the Committee on some amendments specific to highly capable programming that we were very pleased to see were adopted.
If you want to see the budget documents, go to http://leap.leg.wa.gov/leap/archives/index_budgetsp.asp Select 2011-2013 biennium, house, PSHB1087. This proposal contains a fourth supplemental for the current year as well as the 2011-2013 biennial so read with care. The other two documents are also valuable, especially the Budget Summary.
Stay tuned for additional information as it becomes available to us and for our requests to contact Legislators. These may come on very short notice.