Day 4: Education Bills Begin to Move
by Jim Puckett on 1/14/2010

Neither the House nor Senate acted on education legislation during today's short session, leaving ample time for legislative committees to work on bills.  The House Education Committee gave a "do pass" to four bills discussed earlier at Tuesday's meeting and withheld action on other bills of interest to educators.

Bills that will be moved to the rules committee for consideration:
HB 905  Extends the sunset date for the current capital outlay provisions to June 30, 2015.

HB 906  Extends the deadline to May 15 by which contracts must be tendered to professional employees or by which such employees must be notified that no contract is forthcoming.

HB 907  Allows districts to remain eligible for middle school funding even if students in grades 6, 7, or 8 are not housed in the same facility.

HB 923  Extends the deadline by which an educator currently working on a leadership degree must complete that degree program in order to be paid at the higher level if not employed in a leadership position.

Bills discussed Tuesday that will be up for action at a later Education Committee meeting:
HB 904  Modifies the way state equalization funds are distributed to school districts.

HB 908  A bill containing language related to much needed flexibility by local school districts during the current fiscal crisis including suspension of expenditure controls, the "65% rule," maximum class sizes, additional days of instruction funds regulations, and flexibility on implementation of the state salary schedule.

HB 910  Removes the state requirement that local districts annually complete a gender equity report.

Two new bills of interest were introduced today:
HB 924  Removes the nepotism language signed into law in 2009 that makes individuals ineligible to run for the local board of education if they have family members employed as administrators in the school system.

HB 925  Removes the requirement that schools must notify parents by certified mail if a student violates certain attendance provisions.

House Education Committee Chair Brooks Coleman announced that the Governor had requested that the Committee act on SB 84 as soon as possible and that he anticipated taking up the bill during the week of January 25.  Readers are reminded that SB 84 contains provisions by which local board members can be removed from office for certain ethical or conflict of interest violations or if the system looses accreditation; sets training requirements for board members, and attempts to define the role of board members and superintendents.

The Governor is expected to release the proposed state budget on Friday. The General Assembly will be in recess until Monday, January 25 giving legislators and others the opportunity to review the documents to verify expected and continued cuts in appropriations to state agencies, including education.