Day 18: Flexibility Bills Moving Along
by Angela Palm on 2/16/2010

The Senate Education and Youth Committee today got some of the flexibility bills, already passed by the House, moving on the Senate side. HB 905 extends the capital outlay provisions; HB 906 extends the contract deadline to May 15th for the next three years; and HB 907 allows middle school grades to be in separate facilities but still earn middle school funding as long as the rest of the middle school program is followed.  All three bills received a "Do Pass" and move on to the Rules Committee.

The other flexibility bill which waives the expenditure controls for the next three years, HB 908, will be heard by the Committee Thursday.  SB 361, this year's voucher bill, is also on Thursday's agenda.

Education Day in Sales Tax Subcommittee

The Sales Tax Subcommittee of House Ways and Means met today to hear some ESPLOST proposals.  HB 1020 and HR 1203 propose a constitutional amendment to allow a local board to include a maximum amount for maintenance and operations in its SPLOST resolution. In other words, the current penny that can be levied for capital outlay could be split between capital outlay projects and maintenance and operations. As circumstances differ around the state, some boards support this and some oppose it.  This received a "Do Pass" but will have a definition of maintenance and operations added.  It now goes to the full House Ways and Means Committee.

HB 1051 and HR 1238 is another proposal to amend the constitution.   It creates a Homestead Option Sales and Use Tax for Educational Purposes.  This would allow the creation of local legislation for local boards to call a referendum for a new penny sales tax to be levied to fund a homestead exemption of up to 100 percent of the assessed value of homesteads from school taxes.  It also requires this to be the first sales tax question on the ballot. It is to be amended so that 90% of the funds collected would affect the homestead exemption, and the remainder would go to the board.  Language will also be added requiring the usual concurrent resolution for city and county districts in the same geographical area.  It was held for these clarifications.

School Grading Bill Introduced in House Subcommittee

The Academic Achievement Subcommittee of House Education got its first look at HB 1100, identical to SB 352.  The bills attempt to create a growth model and a grading system for schools.  Rep. David Casas acknowledged there are problems with the bill but suggested specified criteria be created to implement the bill and set a hard date for the assessments to be vertically aligned.  The alignment would allow a valid comparison of one year's CRCT results to another. There was little time for questions, so the bill will be brought back for discussion.

Rep. Alisha Morgan tried again to get her Closing the Gap Commission bill approved.  Subcommittee members had a number of comments and suggestions to make:

  • Another commission is unnecessary and useless.
  • We know what the issues are; we just need to fix them.
  • This is the job of the State Board and Department of Education.
  • Put this proposal in a resolution.
  • :Have the State Board issue a resolution to create the Commission as they did to create the Commission for School Board Excellence which resulted in SB 84.

They will consider this again next week


Wednesday, February 17

The General Assembly will be in session

Senate Finance Committee will meet at 4 PM in 310 CLOB to further discuss Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers' bill to revamp the assessment and appeals process for property taxes.


Thursday, February 18

The General Assembly will be in session

Senate Education and Youth Committee will meet at 1 PM in 310 CLOB to hear SB 361, a voucher bill, and HB 908, waiving expenditure controls for three years.