Washington State

House of Representatives

Office of Program Research



Appropriations Committee

ESSB 6241

This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.

Brief Description: Concerning the January 1, 2020, implementation of the school employees' benefits board program.

Sponsors: Senate Committee on Ways & Means (originally sponsored by Senators Hobbs, Fain, Mullet and Keiser; by request of Health Care Authority).

Brief Summary of Engrossed Substitute Bill

  • Makes clarifying changes to distinguish the Public Employees' Benefits Board (PEBB) from the School Employees' Benefits Board (SEBB) and PEBB-participating or SEBB-participating employees within Health Care Authority (HCA) laws.

  • Provides the HCA with authority to pay school districts for the cost of substitute employees, if needed, for periods when school district employees are serving as members of the SEBB.

  • Clarifies eligibility for SEBB benefits is based on the hours an employee is anticipated to work in a school year.

  • Permits employees to waive SEBB coverage.

  • Specifies that school districts must contribute to the SEBB program for all eligible school employees.

  • Clarifies that charter schools are SEBB participants, unless the HCA receives guidance from the federal government that their employees are not eligible to participate in a governmental employee benefits plan.

  • Creates and amends administrative accounts to enable implementation of the SEBB program.

  • Permits local bargaining for supplemental benefits and expanded eligibility as an enhancement or enrichment to the program of basic education.

  • Requires funding to be allocated to school districts at the same or greater level than what is provided to state agencies for Public Employee Benefits.

  • Eliminates SEBB provision of optional benefits to school employees, and permits school districts to offer optional benefits as an enhancement to basic education after January 1, 2020.

Hearing Date: 2/24/18

Staff: David Pringle (786-7310).


In 2017 the Legislature created the nine-member School Employees' Benefits Board (SEBB) with the enactment of Engrossed House Bill (EHB) 2242.  Under this bill, beginning January 1, 2020, all public schools must provide health care and related benefits to employees through the SEBB program, administered by the Health Care Authority (HCA).

The state allocates funding to each school district for employee fringe benefits such as health care and for the cost to districts of covering retiree health care for state-funded K-12 staff units. Although the state allocates the funding, prior to EHB 2242 and until January 1, 2020, each district purchases health benefits separately and bargains locally with its employees regarding the specific benefits package. Employee and employer contributions vary by district, and by bargaining units within districts.

A legislatively mandated study by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC) completed in 2016 indicated that the share of the costs of coverage paid by school district employees who insure only themselves was typically much lower than for those who also insure their family members.  The JLARC study also concluded that while slight improvement was made toward goals set by the Legislature in 2012 to achieve greater equity between individual and family premiums, targets set by the Legislature were unmet.

The SEBB's membership consists of:

The SEBB's responsibilities include:

In addition to consolidating health care purchasing for school district employees, EHB 2242 also removed medical, dental, vision, and other basic and optional insurance benefits from the scope of local school district bargaining.  Similarly to how state employees bargain for health care, health benefit provisions will be bargained between the Governor or the Governor's designee and one coalition of all the exclusive bargaining representatives impacted by benefit purchasing with the SEBB. Bargaining must be initiated after July 1, 2018. 

Engrossed House Bill 2242 also provided limitations on the use of local school district levy funds. Beginning with the 2019-20 school year, districts may spend enrichment levies (including transportation vehicle enrichment levies), local effort assistance (LEA), and other local revenues only for documented and demonstrated enrichment of the state's program of basic education. To constitute enrichment, a school district expenditure must supplement state minimum instructional offerings, staffing ratios, program components, or professional learning allocations. Permitted forms of enrichment consist of extracurricular activities, extended school days or school years, additional course offerings, early learning, administration of enrichment activities, and additional activities approved by the Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) through the pre-ballot review process. The SPI may report to the Legislature on expanding the list of specifically permitted enrichment activities.

Summary of Bill:

The following changes are made, which relate to the administration of SEBB by HCA:

Appropriation: None.

Fiscal Note: Preliminary fiscal note available.

Effective Date: The bill contains an emergency clause and takes effect immediately.