Senate supplemental budget stresses education support

education support The state Senate's proposed supplemental budget boosts college enrollment, invests in technology, creates a loan program for middle-class families, and makes public schools safer, says Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe (D-Bothell), chair of the Senate Education Committee.
   The budget would invest a total of $180 million in expanded access and "high tech" innovations for colleges and universities; financial aid for middle-income students; and measures to increase safety at public schools.
   Approximately $137.7 million of the proposal will be one-time funds, derived from the state's anticipated $700 million budget surplus.
   Components of the budget include:

Safe Schools
   Employee background checks: $2 million for checks on the 51,000 people hired before 1992, when the current system of checks was instituted.
   Safe walking conditions: $12 million to improve crosswalks, crossing guards and stop signs.
   School security grants: $4.1 million for items ranging from cell phones in the classroom to metal detectors. The 1995-97 budget funded only 16 of the 51 schools' safety requests.
   Alternative schools for troubled youth: $2 million for programs for students who cannot be kept in school because of their threatening behavior.
   Safer school buses: $9 million to get old buses off the road sooner.

Higher Education Access and Innovation
   New enrollment space: $16.5 million to accommodate about 3,100 additional students at the public four-year institutions and about 1,000 at community and technical colleges.
   Technology and productivity improvements: $10.7 million for the Washington Higher Education Network.
   Campus-based technology: $15.1 million for such programs as "2+2" sites and teacher technology training (about $80 per full-time equivalent student).
   Washington State Cooperative Library Network: $5.2 million.

High technology investments in primary and secondary schools
   High-tech in the classroom: $62 million to improve the quality of education and deliver it more efficiently ($1,550 per classroom).
   Vocational Education Equipment Grants: $5 million to purchase modern high-tech equipment.

Financial Aid
   Washington State College Access Loan Program: $30 million to fill the need for middle-income students.
   College Tuition Prepayment Program: $.1 million to help parents and students plan for the rising cost of a college education.
   State Need Grant Funding: $2.5 million for low-income students added in this proposal.

   McAuliffe is sponsoring legislation to create both the College Access Loan Program and the College Tuition Prepayment Program.
   McAuliffe also introduced a bill recently that would recognize three parents from each congressional district for outstanding contributions to local education as part of the state's annual Christa McAuliffe Award for Excellence in Education. The Christa McAuliffe Award already recognizes the contributions of teachers, administrators, classified staff, and school board members each May.
   "Schools couldn't function without active, concerned parents," said McAuliffe, chair of the Senate Education Committee and no relation to the late Christa McAuliffe. "This award would allow us to say 'thank you' to those parents who have gone the extra mile and contributed so much to our local schools."
   The 27 parents honored annually would receive a certificate of appreciation and a $2,500 recognition award to be used for a parents' program at the children's schools.
   Another bill introduced by McAuliffe calls on the Commission on Student Learning to develop new strategies to reach out to parents and encourage them to become actively involved in their children's education.