Fortunato bill would let schools seek waivers from costly rules

OLYMPIA…Sen. Phil Fortunato has introduced legislation that would give school districts the authority to seek waivers from burdensome state regulation.

“We keep giving schools more money, but a lot of that money never makes it to the classroom,” said Fortunato, R-Auburn. “Instead, schools spend too many tax dollars complying with rules that don’t enhance the educational experience for our kids.”

Since 1978, there have been 1,477 permanent rules and regulations placed on public schools in the state. That is an average of 39 new rules every year.

Senate Bill 5562 would allow school boards to apply for waivers from state regulations that they felt did not provide an education benefit. Principals would have the ability to seek waivers directly from the school district for their respective schools.  The school board would then be required to submit to the state a list of waivers that were requested.

“Right now nobody can tell me what rules work for our schools and which ones don’t.  I want to fix that,” Fortunato said. “Teachers and principals are on the ground; they know what works in their schools, and this gives them an opportunity to tell us if something doesn’t work.”

Schools could not be granted waivers for rules and regulations that involve the health and safety of students or have to do with parents’ rights.

Fortunato added, “I fully expect we will learn that some rules are beneficial in urban areas but aren’t beneficial in rural areas, and vice versa. That is very valuable information. This simple idea will go a long way to reduce the cost of education and increasing the educational experience for Washington students.”