Legislative Daily Reports

02/15 - Day 16: Just Stop

Day 16: Just Stop
by Angela Palm on 2/15/2019

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Governor Brian Kemp signed his first piece of legislation today.  SB 25, making clear who stops for a stopped school bus, went into effect immediately upon his signature. 

Congratulations to Curtis Jones -- Bibb County's superintendent was named National Superintendent of the Year last night by AASA, the national superintendents association!

CTO Bill Moves Forward 

The House Education Academic Achievement Subcommittee met this afternoon.  HB 86, relating to a complaints policy for teachers, was slated for a hearing only but was pulled from the agenda at the author's request.

HB 32 makes a few changes in the statute on the chief turnaround officer and his duties.  The turnaround coaches would be renamed "transformation specialists" to decrease the emphasis on "turnaround."  It would create a Georgia Turnaround Collaborative made up mostly of state representatives of various agencies.  The Collaborative's task is to come up with a plan to provide wraparound services to the schools.

It would also designate certain teacher leaders as turnaround instructional innovation specialists.  These specialists would be eligible to receive a stipend of $7500, $5000 of which would be paid by the state and $2500 by the district.  It would be the local board's decision whether to participate.  They would have to agree to teach in a turnaround school for at least five consecutive years and meet other criteria to be developed. 

After receiving the stipend for five consecutive years, the specialist shall be eligible for conversion from stipend to a permanent salary step increase on the state salary schedule at the recommendation of the Chief Turnaround Officer and the State Board AND shall be eligible for continuation of the local $2500 at the discretion of the board.

Dr. Jimmy Stokes, Chair of the Education Turnarouond Advisory Council, said he thought the stipend would be a major help and that the Council fully supports this.

Associate Superintendents from Dougherty and Clay and Principal of Clay MIddle School spoke in favor of the bill in light of their high teacher turnover.  The bill got a "Do Pass" and goes to full Committee.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE 

The General Assembly is in recess until Tuesday, February 19th

Tuesday, February 19th 

The General Assembly will convene at 10 AM

8 AM Senate Appropriations Committee will meet in 341 CAP to pass the supplemental budget and to hear SB 67, capital outlay funding for education facilities destroyed by fire or natural disaster 

2 PM House Retirement Committee will meet in 515 CLOB for a hearing only on HB 109, making changes to TRS for those entering the system July 1, 2019 and after and other bills. A substitute for the original HB 109 is expected.

4 PM Senate Judiciary Subcommittee A will meet in 307 CLOB to hear SB 64, amending the Juvenile Code so a terroristic threat is a Class B designated felony 

02/14 - Day 15: Happy Voucher Day

Day 15: Happy Voucher Day
by Angela Palm on 2/14/2019

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It was an unremarkable day for education in both chambers, but there was plenty to keep us occupied.

Budget Explanation 

It seemed like such a simple thing -- expensive, but simple.  The FY '20 budget proposed by Governor Kemp included a new line item titled "Certified Employee Wage Review" which said: "Provide funds to adjust the state base salary schedule to increase salaries for certified teachers and certified employees by $3,000."  The state would provide $483,026,192 to do so.  Other employees mentioned in the budget were receiving a 2% salary increase.

As the House began work on the budget it became clear that all certified employees had not been counted in the calculation for the $3,000 salary increase.  Some would receive instead a 2% salary increase using the base salary amoun, which in FY '19 was $34,092. 

As it stands, here are the categories of employees funded for a $3000 increase:

  • Teachers (the number earned under the state funding formula)
  • Assistant principals
  • Principals
  • Superintendents

The following categories would receive the 2% of the base salary which comes to $681.84 using the FY '19 base:

  • Counselors
  • Psychologists
  • Social Workers
  • Media Specialists
  • Technology Specialists
  • Special education specialists

The House Appropriations Committee is working on the problem.  One possible solution is to divide the amount in the budget by the total number of certified employees so they all get an equal amount, but it would be less than $3000.  Another solution is to shift money from somewhere to add to the available funding for the raises, although they might not be able to find enough to get it to the $3000 level.  Only the Governor can change the revenue estimate so unless that happens, money can only be shifted from one place to the other. It cannot simply be added.  It has been estimated that it would take $35 million more to give all certified employees the $3000 raise.  Anybody got a winning lottery ticket they could spare?

SPLOST for Safety 

This morning the Senate Finance Sales Tax Subcommittee met to hear SR 12, a constitutional amendment to allow the education SPLOST to be used for safety including personnel.  Sen. John Albers, the sponsor, explained his reasons for the proposal -- that during the meetings of the Senate Study Committee on School Safety rural districts in particular asked for this flexibility.  The Subcommittee was skeptical of moving it forward for various reasons.  

  • Chairman Bruce Thompson was concerned that the flexibility would not be used wisely since he doesn't think the $30,000 per school safety grant funding is being spent wisely. (Since you don't have that money yet, he may have meant the funding that was in last year's budget for safety capital outlay.
  • The Chair did ponder, however, possibly having a canine in each school to check for drugs and explosives. He cautioned we need to be cautious about what we're doing.
  • Sen. Steve Gooch said he is in principle against using SPLOST money for personnel (a sentiment many of you share).  One of his districts is creating a police force with a chief and 4-5 deputies, a new bureaucracy.  He said he would support it if there was a mandatory rollback of the property tax included. He mentioned the elaborate, expensive schools that some districts are building.  Pragmatically, he noted there might be resistance from general contractors to the proposed change.

Sen. Albers was not interested in adding a mandatory rollback as it would just put districts back in the same spot. After discussing whether to table the bill or consider the meeting a hearing only, they ultimately decided it was a hearing only and will meet next week to further discuss it.

Do Pass 

This was the phrase of the day in House Education today.  The Committee heard three bills that had passed unanimously out of Subcommittee last week. They got the same vote today and the following go on to Rules:

  • HB 59, allowing students of military families to enroll in advance of moving to a new residence
  • HB 69, allowing a student who has qualified for the special needs voucher to retain eligibility even if they homeschool or attend another nonpublic option for a while
  • HB 130, allowing the Georgia Foundation for Public Education to apply for a 501(c)(3) designation

This Year's Voucher Bill 

There may be more than one voucher bill before we're through, but HB 301, an education savings account voucher, was dropped today by Rep. Wes Cantrell.  It's similar to his bill last year but there is not yet a fiscal note available on it.  Click on the bill number to see some of the details and go to the bill itself.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE 

Friday, February 15th 

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

1 PM House Education Academic Achievement Subcommittee will meet in 406 CLOB to hear HB 32 , changes to the turnaround program and HB 86, complaints policy for teachers.  There will be no vote on HB 86, but there is a substitute.

1 PM Senate Finance Ad Valorem Subcommittee will meet in 307 CLOB to hear SB 65, transferring the title of a vehicle between legal entities owned by the same person would not require payment of the tag ad valorem tax (TAVT)

02/13 - Day 14: Propane and Propane Accessories

Day 14: Propane and Propane Accessories
by Angela Palm on 2/13/2019

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The 14th day of the 2019 Session of the General Assembly saw more recognitions of championship football teams, a loud Capitol full of school groups, the House passage of SB 25 (the school bus bill), a hearing on Dyslexia, a discussion on propane fueled school buses, and the House Education Appropriations Subcommittee began consideration of Governor Kemp's FY20 budget request.

Speaking of the Governor, a major piece of news came out of the 2nd floor earlier today when Governor Kemp, Lt. Governor Duncan, and many members of the Senate Republican caucus introduced SB 106, the Patients First Act. Text of the bill is not available online at the moment, however we do know that this legislation will authorize the Department of Community Health to seek a Medicaid waiver from the Federal government. 

In committee action, the Senate Education Committee heard one piece of legislation, SB 48, a bill that would require dyslexia screenings for all Kindergarten students in Georgia, as well as direct the Professional Standards Commission to "improve and update professional development opportunities for teachers specifically relating to dyslexia", create a pilot program to look at the impact of early reading assistance programs for children with risk factors for dyslexia, as well as other provisions aimed at early detection. Chairman P.K. Martin made sure to note that while the bill would require dyslexia screenings for all Kindergarten students in Georgia, that section would only be enacted once funding from the state were approved through the appropriations process.

There were four amendments on the bill, none of which substantially changed the bill itself. An amendment from Senator Jesse Stone added in language addressing parental agents and kinship caregivers, Chairman Martin offered 2 amendments, both clarifying in nature, and an amendment from Senator Elena Parent strengthened requirements on the Department of Education when consulting on reading programs. SB 48 received a "Do Pass" vote in committee and goes on to Rules.

The Education Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee met to begin consideration of the Governor's FY20 budget request. Representatives from the Professional Standards Commission, the Employees Retirement System, Teachers Retirement System, the Governor's Office of Student Achievement, Department of Early Care and Learning, and the Department of Education each gave a brief overview of their department and their portion of the budget.

A couple of things to watch:   

  • Rep. Wes Cantrell asked the representative from the Professional Standards Commission how many of the 161,000 certified teachers are administrators.  She didn't know but the Department of Education was checking.  
  • When Ted Beck, the Chief Financial Officer of the Department of Education, presented the budget, Chairman Robert Dickey asked if the money proposed for the $3,000 pay raise included counselors, social workers, media specialists and others.  The answer was "no."  He said, it covers the number of earned teachers and some ancillary positions.  The Chairman asked if we were going to have two salary schedules due to this difference.  Mr. Beck said not necessarily.  Since most districts have waived the salary schedule, he said what you earn from the state is different from what you spend it on.  He was unsure whether it included administrators and central office staff. 

All of you are working on your FY '20 budget so we know you want as much information as possible as soon as possible. The budget, however, like all legislation, is a process.  The House is just getting started on the this.  As we get more clarity on the issue and know for sure what categories of personnel are budgeted for what increase, we will let you know.

The last presenter was Sam Ham of Fulton County Schools who went in depth on the district's use of propane fueled school buses. He made sure to point out the cost savings the district was seeing by switching over from diesel to propane. 

Tomorrow's Action

Things kick off bright and early tomorrow with the Sales Tax Subcommittee of Senate Finance taking up SR 12, a proposed amendment to the Georgia constitution that would allow school districts to use SPLOST funds for school safety purposes. 

As usual, the House and Senate both come to session at 10 am

The House Education Committee will meet at 1pm, where it will take up the following bills:

HB 59 - Waives the proof of residency requirements until the student begins school (Belton)

HB 69 - Removes the requirement for a student to be in a public school a year prior to being eligible for the special needs voucher IF they had previously qualified for it.  

HB 130 - allowing the Georgia Foundation for Public Education to form a 501(c)(3) to receive donations was amended to require an annual report be provided to the Chairs of House and Senate Education

02/12 - Day 13: Privacy and Pay

Day 13: Privacy and Pay
by Angela Palm on 2/12/2019

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It was Dyslexia Day at the Capitol and Farm Bureau Day at the Capitol so there were a LOT of people around but the legislative pace was much slower thankfully.  Neither chamber had a Rules calendar so things moved quickly. Before catching up on committee meetings, we'll take a detour to Washington for a couple of relevant items.

Safety vs Privacy 

You may recall that in the discussion on the proposed Keeping Georgia's Schools Safe Act there were concerns about student privacy.  Questions about how to balance one student's privacy against the safety of others and how FERPA fits in have come up during various safety commissions.  Today, the U.S. Department of Education released School Resource Officers, School Law Enforcement Units, and the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA) with frequently asked questions to try to bring some clarity to the issue.

Teacher Pay 

The U.S. House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing today to discuss the chronic underfunding of education with a focus on teacher pay and school infrastructure. New Chairman Bobby Scott's opening statement included some comments many supporters of public education have made regarding federal funding, public funding for private schools, and factors impacting student achievement. 

The minority party had a familiar face testifying that money isn't the problem.  Dr. Ben Scafidi, economics professor at Kennesaw State University and former education advisor to Gov. Sonny Perdue, has produced a couple of papers arguing that as funding increased the number of administrators and non-teaching staff grew instead of districts increasing teacher pay. He shifted from that to making his pitch for school choice.  Wonder if anybody has researched changes in staffing levels at private schools as their receipts of public money increases. It would be especially interesting to see the staffing impact if those private schools had to follow the same rules as the public ones.  By the way these comments are about the work and his testimony not the person, Dr. Scafidi and I disagree on some things but he's a nice guy who welcomes discussion.

Teacher compensation and how we talk about teaching is an important discussion and seems to be happening all over. 

Meanwhile Back in Georgia 

SB 25, relating to passing a stopped school bus, received its "Do Pass" from the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee and goes to Rules.   

HB 109, the TRS bill, was heard in House Retirement today.  Chairman Tommy Benton explained his reasons for the changes he was proposing to TRS for those who join the system July 1, 2019 forward.  He appreciates and is looking for constructive criticism but can do without the nasty comments. You can watch the recording of the meeting here.  He wants to make sure the system remains sound and a defined benefits program.  He said those arguing that new teachers will pay more and get less are wrong.  Unless a teacher has a very high salary, they will get back what they paid in within a few years.  He also didn't see why it would hurt recruitment as we have trouble with that now.

The changes include calculation of the amount, employee deduction, counting unused sick leave, and age of retirement. The Committee will meet again next Tuesday and give an update on the bill.

Two Subcommittees of House Ways and Means met today.  The one on Tax Expenditures heard HB 170 which would raise the cap on tax credits for donations to the Public Education Innovation Fund Foundation from $5 million to $15 million.  This fund is set to sunset in 2023.  It was a hearing only today.  Public Finance and Property heard HB 182 lowering the amount of sales that would trigger the requirement for a company to charge sales tax for internet sales. It received a "Do Pass" and goes on to the full Committee.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE 

Wednesday, February 13th 

The General Assembly will convene at 10 AM

2 PM Senate Education & Youth will meet in 307 CLOB to hear HB 48, the dyslexia bill again.

3 PM House Appropriations Education Subcommittee will meet in 606 CLOB to discuss the FY '20 budget (Please note this is not on the online calendar but a meeting notice went out so check before coming down) 

02/11 - Day 12: Zoom Zoom

Day 12: Zoom Zoom
by Angela Palm on 2/11/2019

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It was a busy day under the Gold Dome trying to get to meetings.  Four meetings at one time keep life interesting.

Our rural districts often express frustration with the broadband services in their area or the lack thereof.  The House passed HB 23 today which might help some.  It would allow electric membership cooperatives (EMCs) and their affiliates to deliver broadband services.  It goes to the Senate. 

What Happened in All Those Meetings?

The Senate Appropriations Education Subcommittee heard the supplemental budget today.  For those of you who are new and look at documents, the House and Senate use different budget documents.  The Senate often includes some historical data, the purpose, the full funding amount as well as the current proposed appropriation.  The House tends to stick to the current proposal. The "tracking sheet" shows the Governor's proposal, the House's preferences, and the Senate's as soon as they are done.

The Subcommittee mainly discussed the changes the House made.  The Department of Education was asked to bring back information on several items:  the amount needed to fund the audio-video grant requests on the waiting list, the anticipated need if the grant program were opened up, and a list of the districts that have received grants and how much they were; and how much of the increase in the supplement for the state's charter schools is due to enrollment increase and how much is due to the changes made by last year's HB 787.  Chairman Ellis Black expects to have the next meeting Wednesday.

SB 15, Keeping Georgia's Schools Safe Act, was heard in the Senate Public Safety Committee today.  There was a substitute for the original bill, but no vote was taken.  Chairman John Albers is continuing to take suggestions on changes to the bill.  A number of changes have been made but it is still unclear whether the safety coaches are a choice or requirement.  The coaches can be volunteers or compensated, but if they are volunteers, they would be eligible for a full homestead exemption from school taxes if such an exemption were approved locally.  There are lots of questions as to how that would work.  Speakers expressed concern about student data privacy, flagging students as threats, support for identified students,and issues with current laws. The bill is expected to be back in Committee on Wednesday.

SB 21, requiring cybersecurity education in each grade K-12, was heard in Senate Education & Youth but no vote was taken.  Sen. Donzella James, the bill's sponsor, was asked to work with the Department of Education to see how much of the bill's requirements are already being done.  She was also asked to get information on the cost and time commitment that would be required. 

The Committee also heard SB 68, strengthening financial management requirements. Requirements in the bill are aimed at districts that are considered "high risk" based on certain criteria.  According to Sen. Freddie Powell Sims, the bill's sponsor, seventeen districts currently fall into that category.  No vote was taken.

Continuing the "no vote taken" streak, HB 43, trying for the third year in a row to address sexual contact between a school employee and student and other sexual assault circumstances, was heard in a Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.  They will continue working on it. 

The Academic Support Subcommittee of House Education broke the "no vote taken" streak. HB 130, allowing the Georgia Foundation for Public Education to form a 501(c)(3) to receive donations was amended to require an annual report be provided to the Chairs of House and Senate Education.  Some companies and foundations are allowed to donate only to a 501(c)(3), thus the bill.  The bill received a "Do Pass" and moves to the full Committee.  HB 69, would remove the requirement for a student to be in a public school a year prior to being eligible for the special needs voucher IF they had previously qualified for it.  The example given was a student took the voucher but the parent then decided to home school the child and then decided to send the student to private school again but discovered they were no longer eligible for the voucher.  It too moves on to the full Committee.  

A Subcommittee of House Public Safety and Homeland Security was set to hear HB 75, amending the statute on passing a stopped school bus, but instead they took up SB 25, passed last week by the Senate to amend te same code section.  Smart move, somebody should make a rule that this always happens -- not that the Senate version is taken over the House version but that they settle on one bill to move forward when two or more bills are amending the same code section.  Yes, there are stories behind that sentiment, but back to the meeting -- SB 25 received a "Do Pass" and goes on to the full Committee tomorrow.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE 

Tuesday, February 12th 

The General Assembly will convene at 10 AM

1 PM House Public Safety and Homeland Security will meet in 406 CLOB to hear SB 25, relating to passing a stopped school bus

1:30 PM House Ways and Means Tax Expenditure Subcommittee will meet in 133 CAP to hear HB 170 which would raise the maximum income tax credits for donations to the Public Education Innovation Fund Foundation from $5 million to $15 million. 

2 PM House Retirement Committee will meet in 515 CLOB for a hearing only on HB 109, amending provisions of TRS for those starting on or after July 1, 2019

2 PM House Ways and Means Public Finance & Property will meet in 133 CAP to hear HB 182 which would lower the threshold for online sales to be subject to the sales and use tax from $250,000 to $100,000. 

02/08 - Day 11: Supplemental Budget Passes House

Day 11: Supplemental Budget Passes House
by Angela Palm on 2/8/2019

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The House passed the supplemental budget 166-8 today.  You can tell from the eight votes against it that a few people weren't happy with the decisions, but none of it was related to the education budget.  The supplemental budget now goes to the Senate which will start subcommittee hearings on it Monday.

There were few meetings scheduled for today.  The House Education Academic Achievement Subcommittee held its hearing on HB 59, enrollment of students in military families.  Rep. Dave Belton, the bill's sponsor, said this was requested by the Pentagon.  The intent is to temporarily waive the proof of residency requirements until the student begins school.  A handout explained "Military families transferring on official military orders are usually not eligible to register in courses, programs, or lotteries for charter/magnet school entry until they are physically located within district boundaries." This would allow them to register upon receipt of the official orders.  It received a "Do Pass" and moves to the full Committee. 

New Bills 

HB 179, prohibiting discipline data to be part of school climate rating

SB 68,  strengthening provisions relating to financial management of school systems

SB 70, raising the mandatory age for attending school from 16 to 17

Any Questions? 

We are planning a podcast soon and would love to include some questions from you. Just email them, we will not use any names. 

UPCOMING SCHEDULE 

Monday, February 11th 

The General Assembly will convene at 10 AM

1 PM House Public Safety & Homeland Security Lumsden Subcommittee will meet in 606 CLOB to hear HB 75, House version of school bus stop bill

2 PM House Education Academic Support Subcommittee will meet in 506 CLOB to hear:

  • HB 1, changing the name of the special needs scholarship to the Eric Johnson Scholarship (scholarship in this case = voucher)
  • HB 69, amending the prior year requirement for the special needs voucher
  • HB 130, authorizing the Georgia Foundation for Public Education to create a non-profit that would qualify as a foundation.  Before you ask, this is the Foundation at the Department of Education.  Its tax status does not allow it to receive tax exempt gifts; this bill would give them an avenue to do so.

2 PM House Judiciary Non-Civil Reeves Subcommittee will meet in 132 CAP to hear HB 43, revising statutes on sexual contact between student and school employee and sexual assault provisions

2 PM Senate Education & Youth Committee will meet in 307 CLOB to hear SB 21, requiring cybersecurity instruction in grades K-12

2 PM Senate Public Safety Committee will meet in Mezzanine 1 to hear SB 15, Keeping Georgia's Schools Safe Act (a substitute bill will be heard not the original)

3 PM Senate Appropriations Education Subcommittee will meet in 341 CAP to hear the supplemental budget 

02/07 - Day 10: Teachers Matter Forever

Day 10: Teachers Matter Forever
by Angela Palm on 2/7/2019

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10 days down, 30 more to go but it will take until April 2nd to get there according to the adjournment resolution adopted today (HR 152).  Crossover Day will be March 7th.  

The Senate voted 55-0 to pass SB 25, changing the language again for who is required to stop when a school bus stops. It now goes to the House.

Chairman of the Senate Education & Youth Committee P. K. Martin is seeking nominees for an advisory committee on education.  Follow the link for all the information.

New Proposals 

HB 133 requiring that the sex education/HIV course already required be medically accurate as defined in the bill. Who's going to check all the textbooks/learning resources?

HB 169, requiring age-appropriate financial education for all students 

SB 64 would make a terroristic threat by a child 13 or older against an individual or a public or private school a class B felony.  We have been decriminalizing actions of students the last few years so this is a change undoubtedly due to the many false threats schools have seen lately.

"Teachers Make All the Difference" 

The House Education Committee met today for its organizational meeting.  Chairman Rick Jasperse started out introducing himself and talking about his background -- he's a retired county agricultural agent.  He asked each committee member to introduce themselves, explain why they wanted to be on the education committee, and to name their favorite teacher.  There were some interesting stories.

Committee members Dave Belton and Randy Nix have been working on a video series celebrating teachers.  A video of Rep. Nix remembering a teacher who made a difference in his life was played.  Bills were assigned to subcommittee.

The Academic Achievement Subcommittee was postponed until tomorrow due to time constraints and Rep. Dave Belton having to present a bill in another committee.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

Friday, February 8th 

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

11:30 AM (or upon adjournment) House Education Academic Achievement Subcommittee will meet in 417 CAP to hear HB 59, enrolling a student of a military family 

02/06 - Day 9: Success Comes At a Price

Day 9: Success Comes At a Price
by Angela Palm on 2/6/2019

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Did you know Georgia has the 13th highest participation rate in Advanced Placement (AP) in the nation?  Over 41% of the students in the Class of 2018 took an AP exam in high school. The College Board announced today that Georgia's public high schools' Class of 2018 had the 16th highest AP pass rates in the nation.  The percent of students scoring a 3 or higher on the exam has been increasing each year for several years. Good job!  

Supplemental Budget 

The House Appropriations Education Subcommittee voted out the amended FY '19 budget this morning.  Most of the changes are due to "truing up" calculations with the most recent information.  They removed the $3.5 million for audio-visual equipment grants for rural districts.  GNETS facilities were not included when the $30,000 per school safety grant was calculated so $600,000 was added.  They also added funding for law enforcement and security at youth camps and money for generators at two state schools.  They found some savings in the Chief Turnaround Officer's district effectiveness leaders due to their start dates.  

The Subcommittee also added over $215,000 for STEM AP exams.  This state funding has helped students afford to take the AP exams.  Over 30% of the students taking the exams qualified for a reduced fee due to their family income level.  The budget goes to the full Committee in the morning.  It will be posted online after it comes out of Committee.

Dyslexia 

The Senate Education & Youth Committee took up SB 48, identifying and supporting students with dyslexia, today.  Members of the Committee were given a substitute and additional language but Chairman P. K. Martin said additional work will be done on it so there was no reason to walk through the bill.  The original bill was based on the work of the Senate Study Committee on Dyslexia

The Southern Region Education Board (SREB) and Decoding Dyslexia Georgia gave presentations of their work and recommendations.  Several others spoke to the bill/topic.  The point was made a couple of times that language issues are much broader than dyslexia, so this needs to be looked at in a different way. Stay tuned.

Dual Enrollment 

Students have been encouraged to use dual enrollment to get a head start on their post secondary education, and they are.  The House Higher Education Committee heard presentations from the University System, Technical College System, Lottery, and the Student Finance Commission.   Two of them touched on this program.  43,000 students participated in dual enrollment last year and earned 554,000 college credits.  58% of the students in the program are going to a technical college.  Rural counties have the highest participation rate.  

The flip side to the popularity of the program is the rising cost to the state.  In the FY 2020 budget, the Governor recommended limiting the program to juniors and seniors.  The cost of the program has grown rapidly -- the supplemental budget adds $3.5 million to bring the total appropriation this year to $108.6 million.  As with everything else, there's a balancing act between the needs, wants, and resources available.  There will undoubtedly be a lot of discussion in the coming weeks about this program.  Do note that there is no proposal affecting students in this year's program.

For those interested in a national look, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) just released a report on the participation and characteristics of students in dual enrollment. 

UPCOMING SCHEDULE 

Thursday, February 7th 

The General Assembly will convene at 10 AM

8 AM House Appropriations Committee will meet in 341 CAP

1 PM House Education Committee will meet in 606 CLOB

1:30 PM/Upon adjournment of the full Committee the House Education Academic Achievement Subcommittee will meet in 606 CLOB to hear HB 59, enrollment of students from military families.  HB 32, amending provisions related to the Chief Turnaround Officer, is no longer on the agenda.

02/05 - Day 8: Four Challenges

Day 8: Four Challenges
by Angela Palm on 2/5/2019

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The go-and-stop pace of the session is on "go" for the rest of the week. The House could vote on the supplemental budget Friday since it will be voted out of Committee Thursday morning.

Today, Congressmen Buddy Carter and Rick Allen stopped by for a visit before returning to Washington.  Rep. Allen, by the way, was recently named the Ranking Member (Senior Republican) of the Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee of the House Education and Labor Committee.

We Have Challenges 

The House and Senate Education Committees held a joint meeting today to hear presentations from the Georgia Department of Education, the Chief Turnaround Officer, and the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education.  State Superintendent Richard Woods led off by focusing on the four challenges he sees facing education in Georgia (slides 1-7 of this powerpoint):

  • statewide equity in educational opportunities and options
    • "88% of Georgians support job or career skills classes, even if it means students spend less time in academic classes."
    • "By extending educational opportunities and options statewide, expanding diploma options, and moving testing requirements to the national minimum, Georgia can continue to tackle the challenges before us."  
  • rural education
    • "Poverty in rural Georgia looks very different than that of our metro areas -- rural students lack access to nonacademic supports and academic opportunities. Transportation costs, the difficulty to attract and retain teachers, reduced educational student options, and limited workforce opportunities hinder educational progress in Georgia."
    • "At some point we as a state must develop a funding formula that supports a 21st century education and not one of a 1985 Georgia." 
    • "A solution for the issues facing rural Georgia has to include investing in education and be comprehensive." 
  • teacher crisis
    • "What happens at home does not stay at home and teachers have to do more than just teach. Add those pressures to teachers being judged by test scores -- we have dehumanized the teaching profession. We have invested in testing and not our teachers." 
  • lifting up all schools
    • "We must have a comprehensive plan that prepares our students for life It must be a plan that provides educational opportunities statewide, addresses rural education, supports our teachers, and seeks to improve education with a continuous, proactive approach that lifts up, instead of labels, our schools." 

Dr. Allison Timberlake, Deputy Superintendent of Assessment and Accountability and Dr. Garry McGiboney, Deputy Superintendent of External Affairs completed the Department's presentation.  Dr. Timberlake reviewed the assessment and accountability system (slides 8-18 of powerpoint linked above) and Dr. McGiboney discussed school climate (slides 19-30). These were a good introduction for those new to the Committees.

Dr. Eric Thomas, Chief Turnaround Officer, explained the genesis of his position and reviewed his work to date.  He said he is in the 13th month of his work here.  He emphasized that there are about 150,000 students in the schools selected for his turnaround efforts whose trajectory would not change without the state's efforts.  Dr. Thomas said someone had recently described his office as the "Department of Education's research and development lab" and thought that was a good description. In the interest of time, the Q&A was cut short to move on.  

Dr. Steve Dolinger and Dr. Dana Rickman of the Georgia Partnership told the Committees about their EdQuest project and did a quick review of their 2019 Top Ten Issues. For the new among you, this is not a checklist but a good discussion of each issue and "what next."  One pagers for each issue are also available on the website.  

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

Wednesday, February 6th 

 The General Assembly will convene at 10 AM

7:30 AM House Appropriations Subcommittees begin meeting in 341 CAP 

8:30 AM Joint Meeting of House Juvenile Justice, Education, and Health and Human Services Committees in 506 CLOB for a discussion of the Whole Child Primer

1 PM House Higher Education Committee will meet in 606 CLOB. The meeting will include presentations from all higher-education-related entities so dual enrollment and move on when ready will probably come up.

2 PM Senate Education & Youth will meet in 307 CLOB. SB 48, identification of and support for students with dyslexia, will be heard.  Committee Chairman P. K. Martin is the sponsor of the bill.

01/31 - Days 5-7: A LOT Has Happened

Days 5-7: A LOT Has Happened
by Angela Palm on 1/31/2019

GSBA-CWO Header My apologies for failing to provide your daily dose of legislative information the last three legislative days, but a federal advocacy trip to the nation's capital conflicted so we have a lot of catching up to do.  We'll start with the federal side.

Supplement Not Supplant Guidance Issued 

Last Friday, the U.S. Department of Education issued a "non-regulatory informational document" draft for public comment on Supplement not Supplant requirements under Title I as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  For those new to this, federal law for some time has required that Title I funds be allocated to qualifying schools with no reduction in the state and local funds that other public schools received -- so the Title I funds are in addition to the state and local funding and not in place of it.  When ESSA passed in 2015, new regulations and guidance was needed on several topics.  The change in administration, however, delayed that process.

Under ESSA, no school district is any longer required to identify an individual cost or service that is supplemental at any Title I school.  The Department also recognized the variety of factors that can affect the allocation of resources and noted that ESSA prohibits them from mandating equalized spending per pupil at Title I and non-Title I schools.  The idea of equalized spending has kept coming up the last few years. There is much more information in the document.  If anybody wants to comment on it, the 30 day window is open.  Comments should be emailed to OESE.feedback@ed.gov.

What Secretary DeVos Wants You to Know 

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos spoke to school board members and association staff attending NSBA's Advocacy Institute on Monday.  The link will take you to her full speech but here are a few highlights:

  • "Education is perhaps the most local issue there is.  But those closest to students often seem to be the least empowered...Local challenges need local solutions." 
  • "I recently penned a letter to parents empowering them with information about the significant flexibility ESSA affords....Instead of "Dear Colleague" letters, I much prefer "Dear Parent" letters." ("Dear Colleague" letters have previously been sent from the Department or Office of Civil Rights to school districts to inform them of some new or newly interpreted rule)
  • "Embrace the freedom ESSA allows and...for which many of you fought.  Additionally look for ways to extend flexibility -- to empower teachers and parents, those closest to students."
  • "I've reminded Congress of its commitment to funding IDEA. And we've recently launched an initiative to examine and address anything that limits learning for students with disabilities, including the possible inappropriate use of seclusion and restraint."

Secretary DeVos has championed less federal intervention and more local control.  Her alliance with school choice also came through in her remarks along with the often-used "one-size-fits-all approach does not work."  It is ironic that that phrase is tossed at educators as if they created the one-size-fits-all approach rather than being the ones left to implement it when that was the requirement.  

Back in Georgia 

Gov. Brian Kemp has appointed a new head of the Governor's Office of Student Achievement. Joy Hawkins is now Executive Director.  She led the Literacy For All campaign the last two years.

Legislative committees have been getting themselves organized so they can get started on all the legislation that is being dropped.  One bill made it through a committee already.  SB 25 addresses the confusion about who stops for a school bus that a bill passed last year created. SB 25 passed unanimously out of the Senate Public Safety Committee yesterday and goes to the Rules Committee.  HB 75 would also clarify the issue. 

Here are some other bills that we'll be seeing more of -- some of them will be very familiar:

HB 32 revisits the statute creating the Chief Turnaround Officer and process.  "Turnaround coaches" would become "transformation specialists" and a Georgia Turnaround Collaborative would be created to go along with the Education Turnaround Advisory Council among other changes.

HB 53 would spell out freedom of religious speech for students and faculty members in public schools.  Wonder why that doesn't include private schools receiving public money.

HB 59 would require students in a military family to be enrolled in a public school when official military orders are received even though the physical residence hasn't been established.

HB 78 is the Jeremy Nelson and Nick Blakely Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act which failed to make it through last year.

HB 83 is the recess bill that failed to make it last year.  Local board policy would have to prohibit withholding recess as a punishment in addition to the time requirement. 

HB 86 would make the performance ratings in personnel evaluations for teachers who have accepted a contract for the fourth or subsequent consecutive year subject to a complaint policy of the local board which would have to be filed with the Department of Education by September 1, 2019. 

HB 87 is the "Tim Tebow Act" which we saw last year.  

HB 109 proposes some changes to TRS for those joining the system on or after July 1, 2019. Feedback on this one should be interesting.

SB 40 and HB 43 try once again to address sexual contact between a student and school employee. 

SB 48 addresses the identification of and support for students with dyslexia in grades PreK-3.  HB 40 and HR 52 also address dyslexia. 

UPCOMING SCHEDULE 

The General Assembly is in recess until Tuesday, February 5th at 10 AM

Tuesday, February 5th 

1 PM Joint House and Senate Education Committees will meet in 406 CLOB. Agenda here