HR 1162, the constitutional amendment that would allow the state to create charter schools was held while changes to it were negotiated. Language from HR 1335 was added to help define the funding restrictions and to clearly define what constituted a charter school. The funding restriction reads: “The state is authorized to expend state funds for the support and maintenance of special schools in such amount and manner as may be provided by law; providing, however, no deduction shall be made to any state funding which a local school system is otherwise authorized to receive pursuant to general law as a direct result or consequence of the enrollment in a state charter school of a specific student or students who reside within the geographic boundaries of the local school system. (Italicized areas are the changes.) The intent is that no funds earned through QBE or otherwise could be withheld as an offset to funding the new charter schools. A new line item expressly for funding the new charter schools would be added.
The charter school definition is identical to that which is already on the books for other charter schools. Language added to HR 1162: “Special schools may include state charter schools; provided, however, that special schools shall only be public schools. A state charter school under this section shall mean a public school that operates under the terms of a charter between the State Board of Education and a charter petitioner; provided, however, that such state charter schools shall not include private, sectarian, religious or for profit schools or private educational institutions.
Under discussion still is the language of the ballot question. While the first two changes were seen Thursday, the ballot question language has yet to be seen. Also not seen yet is the enabling legislation that will be incorporated into HB 797.
On a related note, at the State Board of Ed meeting, the Amended Charter School Report for 2010-11 was released detailing the performance of the charter schools. The bottom line is that charter schools are no better than public schools in educating children of similar demographics and have made similar levels of AYP.
HR 1162 will likely come up for a vote this Thursday. While the changes that have been made, thanks in part to the advocacy of our members, have resolved some of the major issues with this legislation there are still issues that need to be addressed: The enabling legislation has not been seen or discussed. The wording of the ballot question is still misleading. And the question of funding is still not really addressed. If the state can’t afford to fully fund public education (the state still underfunds public education by over $1B annually) where will they get the funds to fund new charter schools? Until these questions are addressed support for this amendment should be withheld.
School Maps: Every school district and commission district must be redone to account for changes in population since the last census. While several districts passed their maps during the special legislative session this summer, the majority of the maps are being redrawn and submitted for approval during this legislative session. Each county delegation (comprised of all house and senate legislators who have a portion of that county) has the final say in how the district lines are drawn and may or may not take input from the local officials whose districts are being redrawn. PTA members are urged to pay attention to the proposed changes.
SB 183: School nurses may contact offsite medical assistance remotely (telemed) and must follow proper medical protocol. Passed both House and Senate.
HB 824: Equalization. Changes the calculation of equalization so that every county is now compared to a state average rather than being equalized to the 75thpercentile. In calculating the state average the top and bottom 5%, the outliers, (which equates to nine systems at each end) will be removed from the averaging numbers. The remaining counties average property wealth is then averaged to create a state average. The intent is to create a more stable mechanism so districts can better predict if they will be recipients. The intent is also to have the earned equalization more nearly align with what the state has to pay out though its collections. Donor counties are not affected by this legislation. Passed House
SB 289: Students starting high school in the 2013-14 year would be required to complete at least one course online. By 2014-15 EOCTs would be taken online. One issue not addressed is what happens to a student who doesn’t own a computer and doesn’t wish to take the course at school. Passed Sen. Ed.
SB 127/HB 641: Child Protection and Public Safety Act: Comprehensive revision of the juvenile code. Reorganizes the code and brings it into compliance with federal law applicable to juvenile court proceedings. Covers: juvenile court administration, delinquency, dependency, children in needs of services (CHINS), termination of parental rights, parental notification, emancipation, independent living services and child advocate for the protection of the child. Passed Senate Judiciary (HB 641 which will get heard this week in committee) SUPPORT
New Legislation to Watch:
HB 981:Would allow guns in many areas not currently allowed including schools.OPPOSE
Schedule for Next Week:
The General Assembly reconvenes Tuesday, Feb. 21.
SB 403/HB 935: School nurses are to be included in the QBE formula for funding and use the FTE student counts in calculation of the grant to go to school districts (1:750 elementary, 1:1500 for middle and high). Provides money for clinic supplies, heretofore never funded. Funds a state wide coordinator in DOE. To be heard in Appropriations SUPPORT
SB 404/HB 936: Professional development funds to include school level administrators. State strategic initiatives can use professional development funds. To be heard in Appropriations
Georgia PTA - Legislative Chair