School district tackles legislators
Scoliosis training. Safety committee documented meetings. No child left behind measurements and documentation. Annual bus driver training.
These are just four of the more than 70 unfunded mandates that the state and the federal government require county school districts to perform, activities that must be paid for usually by skimping on other budgeted items.
At Monday night’s regular monthly Blaine school board meeting, Barrie Hull and Pebble Griffin talked about speaking to members of this year’s Washington state legislature regarding the problems unfunded mandates create for public schools.
“There were probably about 25 to 30 board members and administrators from districts all over Whatcom County,” said Hull, “and Roger Leonard from Ferndale presented the list of unfunded mandates.”
Hull said that the group met with senator Dale Brandland, R, Bellingham, and state representative Kelli Linville, D, Bellingham, but no other legislators showed up.
Griffin echoed Hull’s sentiments about complex requirements assigned to districts without the funding to carry them through, remarking at one point about requirements for middle school physical education classes “that even included specific heart rate targets and lengths of time the rates should be maintained, and of course all this has to be measured and reported back,” Griffin said, shaking her head.
“I was impressed with the two legislators who were there,” Griffin said, “because they really are interested in our work and promised to do what they could to publicize the issue about unfunded mandates with their colleagues. Brandland made it to every district in the county this last year, and that’s quite an accomplishment. He’s obviously very interested in education.”
In other business, Blaine elementary school principal Deb Cummings read statements of appreciation she collected from school staff on the occasion of School Board Recognition Month and then presented them to school board members in the form of small plaques.