Local news

House Gop Drops Truancy Penalty

House Republicans abruptly dropped a plan Thursday to cut back state aid to school districts with high absentee rates, but they also insisted on eliminating school-reform planning days for teachers.

The Republicans’ surprise proposals boosted the House’s education budget by nearly $107 million. The move was the largest concession of the current state budget talks.

“We want to complete work on the budget and go home,” said the chief House negotiator, Majority Leader Dale Foreman, R-Wenatchee.

But the main Senate negotiator, Nita Rinehart, D-Seattle, said the House’s new position is a good-news, bad-news proposition.

The Senate is delighted that the House is dropping the $126 million truancy penalty, which would have amounted to a 2.2 percent budget cut for most school districts, she said. But the Senate won’t accept a budget that “flat-lines” the planning-day funds for education reform, she said.”We really can’t ask people to do entirely different things in our schools and not provide the resources,” Rinehart told Foreman.

Washington is moving toward “outcome-based” schools which measure students’ performance rather than the number of hours they spend in their seats. New evaluation methods are being developed.

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