OLYMPIA — School districts would be required to use excess career and technical education funding for specific purposes under proposed legislation.

This bill sends an important message that sending money for career and technical education is important and the money should equate to program availability for student, said Sponsor District 18 Senator Ann Rivers R-La Center.

The bill is an effort to create boundaries in how money left over after funding education programs, earmarked for career and technical education, formerly known as vocational programs, can be used. This money is supposed to be used for activities and materials to support a program’s learning goals. However, these funds currently can be charged with staffing and other operating costs.

Under the proposed bill this money could only be used to fund additional program staff salaries, materials and supplies, reductions in class size, work-based learning programs, certification program fees, school expenses associated in community partnerships and other specific activities.

Rivers has made funding career and technical education a focus and SB 5803 continues that focus.

“The money didn’t quite make it all the way to the program and so this bill is an effort to remedy that,” said Rivers. “This bill also works very well with the governor’s effort… for career connected learning.”

Ron Mayberry is the director of the career and technical education program for Bethel schools, he testified in support of the bill. There is a practice in some school districts of charging career and technical education program funds for staff and costs that do not directly support their programs, said Mayberry.

In Mayberry’s district his program is charged a .2 percent of every secondary counselor which equates to a total of 5.6 full time staff charged to their budget, said Mayberry.

“CTE funding could be adequate but not for the direct charging that is taking place,” said Mayberry.

For districts like Mayberry’s, this bill would give back funding to pay career and technical instructors for additional time and for additional materials.

Becky Wallace, the executive director of career and technical education at the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, said this change would allow school districts to implement the entire career and technical program as designed with extracurricular opportunities and community partnerships.

Sara Hatfield the director of career and technical education for South Kitsap Schools said this change could give her program back approximately $500,000 to be used for program needs.

“It is more expensive to run a shop class — a computer class — than it is to run an English classroom,” said Hatfield.

A large portion of this money would go to certifications and community partnerships.

“We want to see them leaving with certification, that’s a requirement that we have. They are costly, so to be able to support students to overcome that barrier is a big portion of this money,” said Hatfield.

The bill clarifies how existing funding can be used and therefore would not require addition funding.

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