State Board Reports

06/13 - June State Board Report

June State Board Report
by Angela Palm on 6/13/2019

GSBA-CWO Header

The State Board of Education held its June meetings over the last two days.  All the agendas are available online:

Following are some highlights from each of the meetings:

Budget Committee 

This Committee had its work cut out for it with 54 items on the agenda.  A contract with the Governor's Office of Student Achievement for the Graduate Ready to Attain Success in Postsecondary Program, item #4 on the agenda, was tabled until next month.  The 54th item was added after the agenda linked above was posted.  The Georgia Literacy and Numeracy Project with SREB is Phase II in the project which is explained in more detail here

If you have ever wondered what RESAs do, items 6 and 10 will help as funding is provided for School Improvement Specialists, Education Technology Services, Mathematics Mentors, English Language Arts Specialists, School Climate Specialists, Wraparound Specialists, Growing Readers, a School Improvement Resource Design Project Manager, a Subgroup Project Manager, and implementation of formative Instructional Practices. 

The Committee recommended all items be moved to the consent agenda except the item tabled and item #51, the Department's budget which is based on the Appropriations acts just passed.

Rules Committee 

The new Dual Enrollment rule had been extensively discussed in previous meetings so Committee members had little to say about this month.  The new rule tries to make it clear there are two different paths in dual enrollment.  The program formerly known as "Move on When Ready" is now Option A; the program generally called "SB 2" is Option B.  Staff created a handy side-by-side comparison of the two options.  Changes to the rule are highlighted in the red-lined version.

The Committee recommended approval of several new courses be moved to the consent agenda.  The Elementary and MIddle School Agriculture courses, Middle School Engineering and Technology Education courses, and the Middle School Law and Public Safety Courses are all for 2019-2020.  A summary of the public comments received for each topic are online.  Click on the course name on the Committee of the Whole agenda to see it.

The Committee's discussion item was the Technical College Readiness Mathematics Course. The course was developed by Hall County and is certified by the Technical College System of Georgia.  The course can be used to satisfy a math 3 or 4 graduation requirement.  Students would need to take more math if they want to go to a college in the University System, but the course is accepted by the Technical College System.  FAQs on the program are available here.

Currently, students qualify for the course by their AccuPlacer score.  Some students who need the course are not qualifying under the current system so the state is making a change.  Students who score as beginning learners and developing learners on the Coordinate Algebra assessment will also qualify for the course.  The Department will provide guidance for the districts on this option.

First Priority Act Committee 

Chief Turnaround Officer Dr. Eric Thomas updated the Committee on his work.  He created a CTO Data Dashboard and used it to monitor the progress of schools working with him.  Based on that data, 8 of the schools were not progressing as expected so an extra tier of support was provided for them.

Climate and culture was a focus of the CTO.  Concerns identified across his schools were student attendance, student discipline, student classroom truancy, unacceptable language from adults toward students, and overaged students.   He expects 14 of his schools to improve their climate rating by one star which was the goal.  He expects 4 not to do so.  

Thomas expects 3-4 of the schools not to meet their academic goals.  Enhancements he would like to see in 2019-2020 are in th areas of leadership development, teacher talent management, and a health and wellness strategy.

District Flexibility and Charter Schools Committee Meeting 

The Committee recommended all items on its agenda be moved to the consent agenda of the Board.  That included renewal of the Bishop Hall Charter and the William Hutchings College and Career Academy agreement; amendments to the Fulton and Stephens charter system contracts, and charter school grants.

The state facilities grant received almost triple the funding this year compared to last year. It was a competitive grant when it was a smaller amount but this year all 84 eligible charters are receiving funding of $40,476 each.

The Charter System Foundation updated the Committee on the consolidated funds pilot.  Four more districts will participate in FY '20 which brings the total number of districts in the pilot to 36.  One obstacle to getting districts to join is the additional record keeping for the CFO.  The Foundation and Madison County have created an electronic program to facilitate that.  A few districts will try it out this next year. 

Two new Commissioners were named to the State Charter Schools Commission:  former Sen. Hunter Hill and former Rep. Buzz Brockway.  Both championed charters and all forms of school choice while in the legislature. 

Committee of the Whole 

At this meeting, Committee Chairs report out to build the consent agenda for the Board meeting.  The State Superintendent and Board Chair also have time for presentations if they choose to do so. 

State Superintendent Richard Woods announced recent national recognition received by the Georgia Virtual School. 

Dr. Allison Timberlake provided an Assessment Update. This was the first year that all students were tested online.  2.82 million tests were administered with no major statewide issues. When asked for feedback, over 1,000 educators responded. They asked for more training and more detailed information on administration rules among other things. GKids 2.0, the kindergarten formative assessment will be operational this fall.  It is integrated into the classwork.  Keenville, the formative assessment for grades 1 and 2, will also be fully operational in 2019-20. Click the link for the powerpoint.

Board Chair Scott Johnson asked Dr. Barbara Wall to provide a Perkins V Update. Perkins is the federal CTE funding.  For FY '19 it was $45 million which is split between the Department and the Technical College System.  The Act was recently reauthorized by Congress so is called Perkins V.  July 1st starts the transition year during which the state plan will be created.  July 1, 2020, that plan will be implemented.  Public hearings will be held this fall.  Click on the link above to see the powerpoint which does a good job showing the changes in the federal requirements.

State Board of Education Meeting 

The State Board approved the consent agenda and unanimously adopted the Department's budget and the State Board Rule 160-4-2-.34 Dual Enrollment.

Members shared some of their official activities over the last month including attending the Listening Sessions held by the Department and the Governor's Office of Student Achievement.  A lot of people are still amazed at the level of collaboration going on at the state level -- it's certainly easier to focus on the work to be done.  Several also commented on meeting some wonderful students at the Valedictorians' Reception at the Governor's Mansion.  MIke Long discussed the College Board meeting he attended in Kansas City and Lee Anne Cowart discussed the No Kid Hungry conference she attended with Eric Thomas.

The next meeting of the State Board of Education will be July 17-18. 

04/02 - Day 40: You Know What This Means

Day 40: You Know What This Means
by Angela Palm on 4/2/2019

GSBA-CWO Header

It’s Day 40 and you know what that means — we’re done for the year after a long, sorta messy, back and forth kind of day. And what would sine die be without some last minute drama and rumors?
 
Rumors of Vouchers  
The drama today was all about vouchers. And there was no shortage of rumors.  Although we had been told vouchers were dead, we were still on the watch for any effort to add the bill today.  SB 68 was the likely target as HB 68 had already been tried.  There were rumors of it being added to SB 68 if the bill went to conference committee.  It didn't.
 
The House passed SB 68 last week after adding other bills to it.  This morning the Senate agreed to the House version -- as they had amended it.  The Senate amendment removed HB 32 (moving the chief turnaround officer position from the State Board to the State Superintendent) and HB 86 (allowing certain teachers to appeal their evaluation) from the bill.  The House disagreed and the stage was set for a conference committee at which all kinds of amendments could turn up.  A story quickly spreading was that the voucher bill was attached already.  It was not.  Another was that it would be added to the conference committee report.  It never got that far.  Sen. Freddie Powell Sims did not make any move to bring the bill up to avoid her bill becoming a vehicle for vouchers.  
 
Bottom line -- vouchers did not pass or move forward any of the times the bill resurfaced.  We had help with that.  Thank you to all who responded to our alerts.  It made a difference in the legislative and executive branches.  Thank you to Gov. Brian Kemp who listened to the concerns of school board members and others then championed the financial changes to the bill and understood that funding was not the only issue and acted accordingly. We appreciate his efforts and encourage you to add your thanks to ours.  House Education Chair Rick Jasperse was also a major help in working through this process and other bills. Sen. Freddie Powell Sims obviously also played a major part in stopping this today.  Please take a moment to thank them also.

What Passed Today 
HB 68 prohibits an accrediting Association or a subsidiary from also being a student scholarship organization. When the voucher bill was attached to it in the Senate Education & Youth Committee, it created such an uproar (thank you for helping provide that uproar) that the bill was stuck. Friday, the Senate Rules Committee removed the voucher language. Today when it was up for debate in the Senate, an amendment was proposed to attach HB 69 allowing a student who had received the special needs voucher to continue to be eligible for it even if they left the private school for home school then wanted to go back to a private school. The amendment failed; the bill passed the Senate and was agreed to by the House. 
 
HB 59, allowing children of parents in the active military to enroll in a school upon receipt of orders, which now includes HB 558, allowing state charters with a statewide attendance zone to be considered a state agency for purposes of the Open Meetings Act. That means the governing board can meet by teleconference without limitation. 
 
SB 83, allowing for an elective to teach history, literature, art etc of Old Testament and New Testament, plus HB 562 which puts the REACH scholarship into statute. It’s currently a program but not a law.
 
HB 315, requiring consultants to local governments on bids or proposals disclose any conflict of interest
 
HB 459, requiring districts to verify school bus driver information twice a year
 
SB 9, relating to sexual contact between a student and school employee
 
SB 15, the school safety bill, passed with an amendment that would require the school safety coordinator to report reasonable suspicion of violent criminal activity to the appropriate law enforcement agency but also allowing the reporting of reasonable suspicion of other criminal activity.
 
HB 322, changing the value of bids or purchases of goods or services to be placed on the Georgia Procurement Registry, had a tangled path in both chambers tonight and oddly they mirrored each other.  The bill was back in the House for agreement with the Senate version.  The House agreed then reconsidered and disagreed.  The Senate then insisted, reconsidered, and receded.  After all that, it meant that the House version is the one going to the Governor.
 
SB 2, allowing EMCs to provide broadband
 
SR 64, urging the Georgia High School Association to add the 4x800 meter relay to the state track meet
 
SR 304, creating a Senate Athletic Association Study Committee 
 
SR 353, creating a Senate Study Committee on Community Schools 
 
SR 452, creating a Senate Study Committee on Financial Efficiency Star
 
SR 468, creating a Senate Study Committee on the Educational Development of African American Children in Georgia
 
The Governor has 40 days to sign or veto these bills and the others that already passed. We will update you when that process is complete.
 
What Did Not Pass 
HB 365, amending the tag ad valorem tax (TAVT) statute, passed the Senate.  The House then agreed as amended but the Senate took no further action.
 
HB 444, the dual enrollment bill, remained tabled in the Senate
 
SB 161, weighting of grades, was postponed in the House four days and never came up for a vote.
 
These bills plus SB 68 from above will start next session with the status they ended up with tonight.  For example, HB 365 and SB 68 will be in the Senate for any further action to be taken.
 
What else is left? 
 
The House recommitted all bills remaining in the Rules Committee back to the committee from which they came for next session.  In education, that includes the following:
  • HB 1, renaming the special needs voucher the Eric Johnson Scholarship Act
  • HB 10, instruction on the best practices for and risks associated with the use of tampons
  • HB 32, duties of the Chief Turnaround Officer
  • HB 69, revising the prior year in public school requirement for eligibility for the special needs voucher if already qualified for it
  • HB 86, appeal of teachers' evaluations under certain circumstances
  • HB 464, requirements for a public comment period at regular monthly school board meetings
  • HR 553, House Study Committee on Cyberbullying
  • HR 680, House Study Committee on School Nutrition Program Funding 
The Senate had only SB 165, designation of a non-profit to govern high school athletics in the state, left in Rules in terms of education.
 
The House Education Committee had 21 bills remaining and nine in Senate Education & Youth.
 
So rest up, we still have plenty of work to do! 
 
We thank you for reading, for talking with your legislators, educating your community about these issues, and taking action as requested.  Thank you for your service to the children of Georgia attending your schools.  Also, a special thanks to the Communications Department of GSBA for their help in getting our message out quickly when Scott and I could not.   
 
 

03/29 - March State Board Meeting

March State Board Meeting
by Scott Bierman on 3/29/2019

GSBA-CWO Header

As the General Assembly was in the middle of its last full week of the 2019 session, the State Board of Education met for their monthly meetings. 

The Audit Committee kicked off the festivities by hearing from the Department of Education on two issues. First, they received an update on GADOE's 2018 Audit, followed by information from the CTAE department on Future Businesss Leaders of America (FBLA) and HOSA - Future Health Professionals programs. There were no action items from the committee.

The District Flexibility and Charter Schools committee renewed the contracts of 7 charter schools, and 3 charter systems (Fannin County, Hart County, and Union County). Candler County had their charter system contract amended to add an additional 2 years to the contract to align with SACS accreditation cycle. The committee awarded 4 grants of federal funds to start new charter schools, totaling $3.2 million. Lastly, two new state charter schools, Academy for Classical Education (Bibb County) and Baconton Community Charter School (Mitchell County) were approved, both of which were formerly locally-approved charter schools. These are the first two locally-approved charters to become state charters. All action items were placed on the consent agenda.

The Rules committee met to take up 9 action items, including the approval of Middle School courses in marketing, health science, business and finance,  and family and consumer science. Additionally, the committee approved computer science standards for grades K-8. If you recall, there was a lengthy discussion during a previous meeting over the proposed standards. A High School Health Science/Law, Public Safety, Corrections and Security Emergency Medical Technician Course was also approved. While all of the above were placed on the consent agenda, the repeal of the Regular Studies Rule (160-4-8-.14), and the approval of the Student Attendance Rule (160-5-1-.10) were held out for a separate vote. The committee also heard discussion on dual enrollment, but action on a new rule is being witheld at the moment due to pending legislation in the General Assembly. 

Under a new chairman, the Budget committee took up 17 action items, placing all on the consent agenda. Included are contracts with Teach for America, UGA, Georgia State Finance Investment Commission, and the Department of Public Health, among other items.

The First Priority Act committee met where staff from the Chief Turnaround Office updated the board on some of their work.

Thursday morning's full board meeting was kicked off by Representatives from the TCJ AreoTech, a partner of Clayton County Schools, who provided a drone demonstration as part of a presentation on CTAE programs in Clayton. 

Superintendent Woods' report featured an update on school visits, and information on the Transforming Arts Education Program. Included in his report was an update on the DOE's work to promote and recognize Military Child Month in April. The DOE will be awarding banners to schools who support our Military and their children. To close out the reports for the month, the Chair's report updated the Board on the GA Exemplary Curriculum Project and changes to the GNETS facilities.

The board voted on the consent agenda, the two Board rules held over from the Rules committee, two legal cases, and everyone's favorite vote, adjournment. All items were approved by the board.

03/29 - Day 39: Dual Enrollment on Pause

Day 39: Dual Enrollment on Pause
by Angela Palm on 3/29/2019

  • GSBA-CWO Header

The Capitol may have been the safest place in the state this afternoon as a lot of extra security arrived in preparation for the final vote on the abortion bill.  There was definitely some citizen participation after the House gave the final passage to the bill.  Civics in action. Otherwise, it was a typical late session kind of day swinging between slow moving and fast as the two chambers worked through agreement on bills and passing those still making their way through.  Here's the recap:

House 

SB 68 started out addressing financial governance issues of local boards but by the time it was voted on today it included three other bills. 

  • HB 32, moving the position of chief turnaround officer to a Department of Education staff position, has been oddly contentious.  There has been no discussion on changing the duties or processes to be followed, just to whom he/she would report (the State Superintendent) and who would fill a vacancy in the position (the Governor). Currently the State Board, appointed by the Governor, hires and supervises the position.  Gov. Kemp has said he wants to streamline government wherever possible.  This was a good place to start, and he supports the change.
  • HB 86, requiring local boards to establish a process for a teacher who has received their fourth (or more) consecutive contract to appeal their evaluation if they choose to do so.  The appeal could be to an independent third party.
  • HB 464, relating to public comments at local board of education meetings, got a slight revision before the vote today.  Originally, the board could not require any prior notice for the public to make comments.  That was changed to prohibiting the requirement of more than 24 hours notice prior to the regular monthly meeting.  A public comment period would be required, although I don't know of one that doesn't have that already.  The board chair can limit the length of time for individual comments and the number of people speaking.

The bill passed 153-2 and goes back to the Senate for agreement with the House changes.

SB 108, requiring computer science courses in high school and middle school on a phased-in timeline, passed 163-3 and went to the Senate for agreement.  They did and it now goes to the Governor.

SB 213, changing campaign finance reporting dates, passed and went back to the Senate for agreement.  They passed it again and it goes to the Governor.

Senate 

HB 444, the dual enrollment bill, was tabled before any discussion took place.  Reportedly there were several amendments coming.  By the way, I need to make a budget correction from last night's report.  The final decision on dual enrollment funding was to cut it $4.2 million not to increase it by that amount.  The House had recommended that cut to reflect implementation of HB 444.

HB 218 extends eligibility time for HOPE.  It passed and goes to the Governor.

HB 12 requires a sign be posted in each school with the toll-free phone number to report child abuse.  It passed and goes to the Governor.

HB 182 lowers the amount of internet sales an out-of-state company would have to make before they have to collect sales tax.  It also passed and heads to the Governor.

The Senate also agreed to the House version of SB 48, the dyslexia bill, and it goes to the Governor.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE 

The General Assembly will convene at 10 AM on Tuesday, April 2nd 

03/28 - Day 38: Budget Is Done

Day 38: Budget Is Done
by Angela Palm on 3/28/2019

GSBA-CWO Header

In the last few days of the session, there is never a shortage of rumors and today was no exception.  It seemed like the rumors had rumors when it came to the education savings account voucher bill and how it would hit the floor today or be on the calendar tomorrow.  It didn't and it won't be.  We're told that it's dead for this session.  If that changes, you'll be the first to know :).  By the way, just because it didn't happen doesn't mean people weren't trying to get it moving again.  We appreciate everybody who was keeping an eye out for any action on it.

FY '20 Budget Done 

The Conference Committee on the FY '20 budget wasted no time coming to agreement.  They finished yesterday and both chambers adopted it today. The Department of Education section begins on page 93 of the document. Here are a few of the changes from previous versions of the budget:

$522 million for a $3000 raise for certified employees beginning July 1, 2019 -- budget writers had to find $86 million more to start the raise in July instead of September

$12.2 million in bonds for vocational equipment 

$4.2 million increase for dual enrollment plus $1 million to establish funding for an Early HOPE program for those in dual enrollment

$2 million for charter school facilities grants

$1 million for grants to schools for feminine hygiene products for low-income students

$1 million for additional high school counselors and enriching counselor programs for Title I schools

$968,634 increase in sparsity grants -- the budget also directs a study to be done over the summer to come up with a plan for updating the sparsity grant formula

$750,000 for professional development to implement SB 108, the computer science bill

$413,000 increase to RESAs by reducing austerity to the base formula

$274,920 for three school safety coordinators and for operations (Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency) 

$200,000 to expand the Communities in Schools model of wraparound services

We appreciate all the efforts of the Governor, Lt. Governor, legislators and budget staff to fund all these needs.  There were some big shifts in the money needed, and it's hard to do that.  Between the supplemental budget and this one, the Governor kept those campaign promises about school safety funding and got 60% of the teacher pay raise done in his first year.  What an excellent start for a new administration.

What Passed 

HB 530, notification to DFACS if a student is absent 45 consecutive days and the school has not received a notice of intent to homeschool or a request for a transcript

HB 266, doubling the state income tax credit for contributions to 529 education savings accounts (completely different kind of accounts than the voucher mentioned above)

HB 322, advertising certain bids or proposals in the Georgia Procurement Registry

HB 527,changing the program weights for QBE

UPCOMING SCHEDULE 

The General Assembly will convene at 10 AM for Day 39 

03/26 - Day 37: Recess Is Over

Day 37: Recess Is Over
by Angela Palm on 3/26/2019

GSBA-CWO Header

Several bills we have followed passed one chamber or the other today.  One of them crossed the finish line.  HB 83, the recess bill, passed the Senate today and goes to the Governor.  Four Senators voted against the bill - it seems they thought recess should be decided at the local level.  This bill has had quite a journey but will be in effect for the 2019-20 school year after the Governor signs it.

Following are the other bills that were on calendars today:

  • SB 9 is one of several attempts we've seen to create a statute to address sexual contact between a student and school employee.  It passed the House today and goes back to the Senate for agreement to House changes including a floor amendment today with some of the language Rep. Ed Setzler had in his HB 43.
  • SB 161, weighting of grades, was postponed again today in the House.
  • SB 83, teaching of the Old Testament and New Testament as electives, passed the House and goes back to the Senate for agreement.  HB 562, putting the REACH scholarship into statute, is now part of this bill.
  • HB 59, allowing a military family who has received orders to move to enroll a child in the school zone they intend to move to, passed the Senate and goes back to the House.  One of the Senate changes was to attach HB 558, recognizing state charter schools with a statewide attendance zone as a state agency for purposes of the Open Meetings Act.  The other change added a section to state enrollment in a charter school requires residence at the time of enrollment.
  • HB 315, consultants hired by a local entity to develop or prepare specifications for bids, RFPs, or purchase orders must provide a conflict of interest statement, passed the Senate and goes back to the House for agreement.
  • HB 459, verification of school bus driver credentials twice a year, passed the Senate and goes back to the House for agreement. It now includes HB 394 relating to volunteers to police for traffic control.

Conference Committee on FY '20 Budget 

The conferees held a brief meeting this morning and agreed funding the teacher pay raise is a priority.  The conferees, by the way, are the Appropriations Chair, Majority Leader, and Pro Tem in each chamber. They will continue to hash things out over the next few days.

Tim Tebow Bill 

SB 163, allowing homeschoolers to participate in extracurricular activities and interscholastic sports at the public school, was heard in the Academic Innovation Subcommittee of House Education today.  It was often described as an equal opportunity access bill to eliminate bias.  If it's an equal access bill, that raises even more issues. Several home school parents spoke for the bill.  They seemed to think possible cheating issues were a moot point as "it's already happening."  The point was consistently made that these students are allowed to participate through 8th grade but are suddenly no longer welcome.  Tying extracurricular activities to enrolled students was referred to as discriminatory.

Muscogee Superintendent Dr. David Lewis gave examples of issues he faced in Florida when a similar bill was first passed.  Representatives from GSSA, GSBA, and Georgia PTA also spoke.  The Assistant Director of the Georgia HIgh Schools Association explained an upcoming proposed rule change to the Subcommittee. Decisions regarding participation, grade validation, and discipline would be left to the school district but GHSA would allow them to play for the school in their attendance zone.

This was a hearing only so no vote was held.  House Education Chair Rick Jasperse had to leave the meeting but left a statement that he would form a working group to continue to look at this.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE 

Wednesday, March 27th 

This is a Committee Work Day

10 AM Senate Higher Education Committee will meet in 450 CAP.  No agenda has been posted but HB 444, the dual enrollment bill is still in this committee. 

11 AM House Education Committee will meet in 406 CLOB to hear SB 108, the computer science bill.

3 PM House Governmental Affairs Elections Subcommittee will meet in 406 CLOB to hear SB 213, changing some campaign reporting dates.  The Governmental Affairs Committee will meet immediately after. 

Thursday, March 28th 

The General Assembly will convene at 10 AM for Day 38! 

03/25 - Day 36: Fast Tracking the Budget

Day 36: Fast Tracking the Budget
by Angela Palm on 3/25/2019

GSBA-CWO Header

As the day began the General Assembly was down to its last five legislative days to get their work for this session done.  Each chamber is keeping an eye on the other to see what's moving forward, what's not, and what might be used for leverage.  Each chamber had bills we have followed up for a vote today.

Senate 

  • passed the FY '20 budget 55-0 and by the end of the day, all the disagreeing and insisting had been taken care of to put the budget into a conference committee to work out the differences.  At this point, we have the Governor's recommendations, the House's, and the Senate's.  
  • passed HB 130, allowing the Georgia Foundation for Public Education to create a 501(c)(3).  That one can go on to the Governor.  
  • HB 311, changing some provisions for sovereign immunity for the state, passed 49-0 and goes back to the House for agreement with Senate changes.

House 

  • passed SB 48, the dyslexia bill, and SB 60, the Sudden cardiac Arrest Prevention Act, both of which have to go back to the Senate for agreement to House changes. 
  • passed HR 52, urging the state and local school districts to recognize the impact of dyslexia  
  • postponed SB 161, weighting of grades, until tomorrow

Senate Education & Youth 

This Committee held its final meeting of the session this afternoon. 

  • SR 195, urging school districts to have an emergency medical technician at all full-contact sporting events, was on the agenda but Chairman P. K. Martin said the sponsor said they didn't need to take it up this year, so they would skip that one.  
  • SR 64, urging GHSA to add the 4x800 meter relay to state track meets, received a "Do Pass" and provided another opportunity for some to complain about "non-responsiveness" from the organization.  
  • HB 12, requiring the posting of the child abuse hot line phone number in schools, also received a "Do Pass."  Both those bills go on to Rules.

Computer Science Bill 

SB 108, requiring courses related to computer science in middle and high schools, was heard in the Academic Achievement Subcommittee of House Education.  The implementation date was moved forward another year in the substitute bill.  Several people spoke for the bill.  House Education Chair Rick Jasperse told two of them, representatives from the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, that he looks forward to seeing what they do to support the bill as volunteers are needed to help with this effort.  The bill received a "Do Pass" and goes to the full Committee.

School Safety Bill 

SB 15, the school safety bill that passed the Senate about a month ago, was scheduled for a hearing in the Academic Support Subcommittee of House Education this afternoon but the meeting was canceled when the Chamber session went into the late afternoon. 

UPCOMING SCHEDULE 

Tuesday, March 26th 

The General Assembly will convene at 10 AM

8:30 AM FY '20 Conference Committee will meet in 403 CAP 

1 PM Academic Innovation Subcommittee of House Education will meet in 415 CLOB for a hearing only on SB 163, the Tim Tebow bill

03/22 - Day 35 - Loooooong Friday

Day 35 - Loooooong Friday
by Angela Palm on 3/22/2019

GSBA-CWO Header 

It was a long crazy day around the Capitol with all eyes on the Senate which took until 6:30pm to complete its business, while the House quickly finished their work and wrapped up before lunch.

In the major news of the day, SB 212, introduced by Chairman P.K. Martin and carried in the House by Chairman Alan Powell was passed the House by a vote of 165-0. As you may recall, this legislation would allow online driver training courses to administer the drivers license test as long as the program is licensed by the State, and that 6 in-car hours of instruction are completed. 

And that was all the major legislation considered by either chamber today. Yep... nothing else happened. 

(Checks notes)

Oh, right.

The Senate spent most of their day debating HB 481, the widely discussed, and widely protested, bill on abortion. I'm sure all of you have seen the coverage in the news, and it will continue to be an issue over the next week plus as we head toward the end of session.

If the protesters were not enough excitement for the chamber, rapper/actor/record producer/songwriter/entrepreneur/author (so says his Wikipedia) Clifford Harris Jr. was recognized by Senator Donzella James for his "musical talent and philanthropic contributions". Harris, better knows by his stage name "T.I." rolled up to the Capitol in an all black Rolls-Royce, catching the attention of all who walked in.

Next Week

Both chambers will be in session on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday of next week, the final full week of the session. Wednesday will be a committee work day.

Monday - House Academic Support Subcommittee of Education will meet at 1 to hear Senator Albers' SB 15, the Keeping Georgia's Schools Safe Act.  Immediately following, the House Academic Achievement Subcommittee of Education will consider SB 108requires computer science courses in middle and high school by a certain deadline. As noted in yesterday's Capitol Watch, the Senate budget includes funding for professional development in these fields. 

Tuesday - In what appears to be the final House Education subcommittee meeting of the session, the Academic Innovation Subcommittee will hold a hearing only on Senator Bruce Thompson's SB 163, better known as the Tim Tebow Bill, at 1pm.  At 2pm, the Senate Education committee will meet. If you're a fan of the 4x800 relay race in track and field, this is the meeting for you, as the committee will take up SR 64, a non-binding resolution that urges the Georgia High School Association to add the 4x800 relay to the state track and field meet. Also on the agenda is HB 12, which requires schools to post the toll-free number to report child abuse and neglect, and SR 195, a non-binding resolution which urges local districts to have an EMT on hand during all full-contact sporting events.

And not to bury the lede, there is still a chance that HB 68, the voucher bill, will make an appearance in the Senate next week. Angela sent out an alert earlier this week with information about the new bill. This report, as well as all past reports, can be found online at GSBA.com or on the GSBA Hub app. Please keep a look out for any future information about the movement of HB 68. 

Lastly, thanks to all who listened to the latest episode of the GSBA podcast, we hope this adds a little something extra to the written reports you receive daily. Look for a new episode next week!

03/21 - Day 34: Senate Shows Its Budget

Day 34: Senate Shows Its Budget
by Angela Palm on 3/21/2019

GSBA-CWO Header

Both chambers passed a number of bills today but only one had relevance to K-12 education.  The Senate passed HB 514 creating the Georgia Mental Health Reform and Innovation Commission.

FY '20 Budget 

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted out their budget recommendations first thing this morning.  It will go to a floor vote early next week.  Here are some of the major changes from the House: 

  • $436 million to provide a $3000 raise for certified employees effective September 1
  • $2.3 million to meet the projected need for dual enrollment (the Governor recommended an increase of $3.5 million; the House recommended a reduction of $4.2 million based on provisions of HB 444)
  • $5.3 million for charter facilities grants
  • $1.7 million for sparsity grants based on enrollment decline and to reduce austerity
  • $1.3 million for 11 positions and associated equipment costs for school safety positions to implement SB 15 (this is under the Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency)
  • $1 million for additional counselors and enriching counseling programs for Title I schools
  • $1 million for professional development programs for teachers providing computer science instruction per SB 108
  • $826,000 to RESAs by reducing austerity to the base formula
  • $600,000 for grants to schools for feminine hygiene products for low-income students
  • $250,000 for cybersecurity initiatives in high schools (under the Governor's Office of Student Achievement)
  • $220,000 for systems and schools to reach and maintain industry certification in the field of construction
  • $100,000 for a 2 year dyslexia pilot per SB 48
  • $100,000 to expand the Communities in Schools model of wraparound supports to new schools

Christmas Party in House Education 

The House Education Committee had five bills on the agenda but moved eight bills on to Rules through the common tactic of attaching one bill to another -- sometimes called Christmas tree bills.  Everything was voted out but it wasn't all smooth sailing.

HR 52, encouraging the state and school districts to recognize the impact of dyslexia, was acted on quickly.

SB 83, adding components to the elective for Old Testament and New Testament, created quite a discussion.  Rep. Brenda Lopez-Romero tried to amend the bill to include the Koran so it included the three "sister/cousin religions."  That did not go over well with some Committee members as they asserted this is a Judeo-Christian country and you can't change our history.  Rep. Dave Belton thought adding Muslims would destroy the intent of the bill while Rep. Dominic LaRiccia pointed out that local boards can add to the provisions of the bill.  Predictably the amendment was voted down.  

Rep. Robert Dickey's bill to put the REACH Scholarship into statute was added to SB 83.  It started a constitutional discussion over including the phrase citizen or eligible noncitizen as part of the eligibility.  An amendment to strike that also failed. After a second spirited discussion, the committee substitute passed.

SB 68, relating to financial governance, had two other bills added.  HB 32, moving the Chief Turnaround Officer to the School Improvement Division of the Department of Education, and HB 86, requiring districts to have a complaint policy for teachers receiving their fourth or more consecutive contract so they could appeal their performance rating to an independent third party. 

The controversy in this one was moving the chief turnaround officer from the State Board to the Department.  Some members strongly opposed the move and asked to give him more time.  Rep. Kevin Tanner said, as he has previously, that Gov. Kemp wants this to avoid redundancy and he can make the change in several ways.  There were also questions about striking the section of the current statute regarding grants.  The previous Governor wanted the Governor's Office of Student Achievement involved with the grants; the current Governor does not.  Since he will be a part of the Department of Education funding will be handled through there.

In attaching the bill, the section related to the Turnaround Education Specialists pilot with a stipend funded jointly by the state and district was left off.  An amendment added it back. The committee substitute doesn't include this change. 

SB 48, the dyslexia bill, saw some changes but no other bills were added. The pilot to screen all kindergarten students and those in grades 1-3 who had not been screened was changed from two years to three.  Mandatory testing would begin after the pilot in 2024-2025.

SB 60, the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act, created no controversy nor did it inspire any amendments.  

UPCOMING SCHEDULE 

Friday, March 22nd 

The House will convene at 9:30; the Senate at 10 

03/20 - Alert -- It's Back!

Alert -- It's Back!
by Angela Palm on 3/20/2019

GSBA-CWO Header

Remember when I said to keep the phone numbers and emails of legislators handy?  You're going to need to get that out for your Senator.  Today in Senate Education & Youth, HB 68 went from a one page bill with 14 lines to a ten page bill with 317 lines as it was amended with the education savings account voucher bill.  

They've made some changes to it so pat yourselves on the back for speaking up -- because none of these changes would have happened without all our voices carrying a common message.  That doesn't mean we no longer oppose the bill though.  There is no electronic version yet with all the changes, but here's a summary of the differences:

  • All students must have been in public school the prior year for the two FTE counts
  • Students eligible are limited to students with special needs, students from families up to 150% of the poverty limit, children of active duty military parents, students adopted from foster care, and students with a documented case of being bullied
  • Enrollment in the voucher program will be frozen in any year that there is an austerity cut to QBE
  • The voucher amount will be calculated with the five mill share deduction made as well as any other cuts to funding going to districts for their students
  • After graduation, funds rolled over from previous years can not be used for postsecondary purposes.  The funds left over are to be returned to the state general fund.
  • The program cap was changed from 5% to 2.5% statewide and a 2.5% cap per district. 

The legislative positions of the members of GSBA include the following:

GSBA is opposed to vouchers, tuition tax credits, K-12 education savings plans, or scholarships whose purpose is to allocate public funds to private school or home study. GSBA urges the General Assembly to include accountability measures in any voucher program including financial and policy transparency, performance evaluation measures, and consequences for poor performance. 

 HB 68 does not include those accountability and transparency measures.  

  • Just as with the special needs voucher we already have, there is no requirement that the private school follow the student's IEP.
  • There is no uniform evaluation of student achievement.  If this is "empowering" parents, where is the supporting structure to help parents choose a school?
  • The names of schools the voucher students attend is protected in the annual report.  Why the secrecy and again, how does this help parents?
  • Audits of the accounts are random.  Public schools must be audited annually.  The Arizona education savings account voucher requires parents to submit quarterly expense reports with detailed receipts. This bill has no such requirement.
  • There is no requirement that the program be evaluated by a third party at any time.  No voucher program we have has been evaluated.  Taxpayers deserve better.

Those are just a few of the issues.  Call your Senator to let him or her know this bill is in Senate Rules.  It needs to stay there.

In Other News 

The last two days were set aside as Committee Work Days. Here's what happened:

SB 68, setting some rules around financial governance issues, and HR 52, encouraging recognition of the impact of dyslexia, both got a "Do Pass" from the Academic Support Subcommittee of House Education and go to the full Committee.

SB 147, on elected officials and lobbying, was heard in Senate Ethics but no action was taken.  It is of course way past crossover for this bill.

HB 322, revising advertising requirements for bids in the Procurement Register, got a "Do Pass" from the Senate State and Local Governmental Operations Committee and goes to Rules.

SB 175, requiring the school district to pay the employer and employee share of TRS for those retirees who are working 49%, was tabled again in House Retirement as was HB 109, changing parts of TRS.

HB 83, the recess bill, was voted out of Senate Education & Youth and it goes to Rules.

HB 130, authorizing the Georgia Foundation for Public Education to form a 501(c)(3), also got passed on to Rules.

HB 530, relating to the extended absence of students whose parents have not notified the state or district of the intent to home school, also was moved on to Rules.

HB 68, as noted above was moved on to Rules as amended.  There were several other amendments attempted but they failed.  Interestingly, somebody knew about this move early enough to bring in Dr. Matt Ladner, Senior Research Fellow at the Charles Koch Institute, from Arizona to testify for the bill. Make those calls!

UPCOMING SCHEDULE 

Thursday, March 21st 

The General Assembly will convene at 10 AM

8 AM Senate Appropriations will meet in 341 CAP to vote out the FY '20 budget

1 PM House Education Committee will meet in 606 CLOB for this agenda