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Office of Governor Gary Locke
Contact:  Governor's Communications Office, 360-902-4136

Gov. Gary Locke Praises Passage of Education Legislation

OLYMPIA – March 10, 2004 – Gov. Gary Locke today praised the state Legislature for passing his key education legislation. Passage of the education package was Locke’s top priority this legislative session.

The first of the four bills in the package was passed Monday. The remaining three were passed today.

“I commend the Legislature for its action. With these four bills, we are taking a giant step forward in education reform,” Locke said.

“Working together, we are improving education for Washington students. We are also further improving our state’s business climate by ensuring that our children graduate with the skills they need to successfully compete in this global, high-tech 21st century economy,” he said.

The education legislation package included:

WASL Changes – Third Engrossed Substitute House Bill 2195, requested by Locke and passed Monday, refines and clarifies the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL). The legislation reduces the number of subjects to be tested and passed for high school graduation to reading, writing and mathematics starting in 2008, adding science in 2010. The legislation also allows for multiple retakes and the development of alternative assessments. Locke first proposed these changes to the WASL nearly two years ago.

“The refined WASL will reinforce our state’s high academic standards, help better prepare students to meet or exceed those standards, and provide teachers and parents with a roadmap of exactly what will be expected of students and when,” Locke said.

LAP Reform – Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5877, requested by Locke and passed today, reforms and strengthens the state’s Learning Assistance Program (LAP). The legislation focuses on best practices to support struggling students, provides greater program accountability and stabilizes allocations to school districts that need the most help.

“This legislation will help get LAP funding to schools that need it the most, and keep it there,” Locke said.

Levy Base Adjustments – SSB 6211, passed today, authorizes the collection of the full amount of voter-approved school levies. The maximum amount school districts can collect through local levies is limited to a percentage of their state and federal revenues. When the state K-12 budget is reduced, the amount that school districts can collect is reduced, even when local voters have approved collections beyond this limit. This legislation was needed to authorize the collection of the full amount of voter-approved levies to avoid a compounding reduction to district budgets as a result of recent state budget reductions.

“We should give school districts every tool possible to help their schools grow, expand and improve. Districts must be able to collect the full amount of levies that voters have approved,” Locke said.

Charter Schools – E2SHB 2295, passed today, authorizes the development of charter schools within the public school system by allowing school districts to convert some schools to charters or to provide for the development of new schools. The focus is on helping struggling students meet state standards.

“I have always been interested in innovation directed toward improving student performance,” Locke said. “This legislation promotes the ‘outside-the-box’ thinking that is sometimes needed to help struggling students meet our high academic standards.”

Once the governor receives the four education bills, he has 20 days in which to take action. No bill action date has been set.

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