Education leaders, board members and superintendents from across Southwest Washington came together virtually on December 4, for a legislative forum hosted by ESD 112.

The forum, which was held over Zoom for the first time this year because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, was attended by 14 legislators, dozens of school superintendents, school board members and other education leaders.

“The intent of the annual forum is for educators to provide information to local legislators about issues within K-12 education,” said Tim Merlino, superintendent of ESD 112. “It also offers the opportunity for legislators from ESD 112’s six-county region to listen to these issues and share their views on the upcoming legislative session.”

ESD 112 Superintendent, Tim Merlino moderated the forum and shared ESD 112’s regional priorities, which were developed based on discussions with superintendents from the 30 public school districts and two state schools in the ESD 112 region.

Ten school superintendents shared their top three priorities under the topics of stable support, school safety and access to learning. Superintendents focused their comments on the region’s immediate school needs, many of which have been driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.

1. Stable Support:

Reimburse unfunded costs associated with COVID-19, beyond what is reimbursed federally; ensure prompt state pass through of federal funding that is dedicated to schools; maintain K-12 funding and prevent mid-year budget reductions and exacerbation of inequities; maintain stable support for enrollment and student transportation; provide professional development opportunities for staff related to equity and remote learning.

2. School Safety:

Support funding for staffing and materials to ensure buildings and buses are clean and sanitary; train staff in providing trauma informed instruction that is embedded in the social-emotional framework.

3. Access to Learning:

Provide equitable access to technology resources, including devices and broadband connectivity; ensure resources for the individualized needs of all students.

Read more details on these priorities and proposed solutions here.