Published: May 3, 2022
Since the state Legislature approved House Bill 1660 in June 2020, school districts across Washington have been examining the law to understand what is required of them and how to manage their Associated Student Body (ASB) funds. Here’s a quick refresher about the law, who’s responsible for setting the criteria, and how SAO plans to audit this area.
What does HB 1660 do, again?
The law’s intent is to create equitable access to extracurricular activities for qualifying low income students by eliminating fees for those activities. The law also calls for collecting and analyzing data to determine what additional barriers to participation might exist, and for districts to address them. The law creates a fee waiver for low income K-12 students, and reduces fees for their family members and low income community members over the age of 65.
- Fee waiver: Specifically, districts must waive fees for ASB cards, and for optional, noncredit, extracurricular activities and events. Districts should implement policies that specify which activities and events are considered optional, noncredit and extracurricular.
- Low-income status: To determine low income status, districts have options. Districts can: send out a family income survey; use information from Free and Reduced Price Lunch (FRPL) applications; use eligibility for the College Bound Scholarship; or use a “Direct Certification.” If a district determines eligibility using FRPL applications, Direct Certifications or College Bound Scholarship eligibility documents, it must obtain parental consent to share that information with the ASB program.
- Collect and analyze data: Schools with students in grades 9-12 must publish data related to the percentage of low and non-low income students who possess an ASB card, as well as the percentage of low and non-low income students who participate in an athletic program. The bill calls the differences between the low and non-low income students in both of these categories an opportunity gap. In the 2021-22 school year, if the difference between low and non-low income students is 16 percent or higher (for either ASB cards or athletic program participation), the school must develop a plan that will reduce barriers for low income students.
How do districts get more information about the new requirements?
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) provides the guidance needed to comply with the law. OSPI has a detailed FAQ on its website addressing a variety of issues including areas the law affects (for example, the cost of athletic uniforms) and does not affect (for example, purchasing a yearbook). It also offers guidance on how to gather, analyze and report statistics related to the law.
How will SAO audit these areas?
This law is a big change for districts and requires a lot of thoughtful policymaking and analysis. Our initial audit focus will be on whether districts have adopted policies to meet the intent and goals of the law, but we will also consider how the districts comply with other aspects of the law.