Day 23: School Start Date Surprise
by Angela Palm on 3/10/2010

The day started well with HB 906, extending the contract deadline to May 15th, passing the Senate 35-11.  There was little discussion; Sen. Vincent Fort said he could not support it because of the hardship on teachers being in limbo an extra month.  The bill now goes to the Governor and will be effective upon his approval.

The House passed HB 925 as amended to provide that notices to parents of student absences can be sent by certified or regular mail.

Then the day took an odd turn.

Calendar Bill Moves To Full Committee

The Academic Achievement Subcommittee of House Education met today to hear a substitute for HB 1100, eliminating the first and second grade CRCTs, and HB 1097, requiring that schools not start before the third full week in August.  It was announced at the beginning of the meeting that there would be no vote today on the calendar bill.

HB 1100 was revised from creating an A, B, C, D, F grading system of schools to just eliminating the first and second grade CRCTs and authorizing the State Board to waive unnecessary tests in a year in which state funding provided was not sufficient to pay for the assessments.  A Senate study committee is to be created to look at creating a growth model to measure student progress.  The bill received a "Do Pass" and goes on to the Rules Committee.

HB 1097 from Rep. Matt Dollar was presented as family friendly and with economic and educational impact.  The only reference to educational value was that he did not know of any difference in student achievement when different calendars were used.  The rest of his discussion was about tourism and energy costs.  Some committee members, particularly Rep. Kathy Ashe, brought up the role of school boards and the constitutional directive to control and manage schools.  The Sierra Club lobbyist and a lobbyist for Six Flags were the only ones to testify for the bill.  

Then Rep. Ed Lindsey arrived and recalled his first year in the legislature (2005) when he sat through a four hour hearing on this issue.  He talked with his PTAs and 90% of them agreed with the uniform, later start date. Rep. Amy Carter suggested that Rep. Dollar have local legislation since he seemed to be the one with a problem.  He refused.  

The motion was made for a vote in spite of the earlier statement that there would be no decision today.  It passed by one vote.  It now goes to the full committee and is expected to be heard and voted on tomorrow at 10 AM.  Make your opinions known.

Assessments Limit In Ways and Means Thursday

HR 1, the constitutional amendment to limit increases in the assessed value of property, is scheduled to be heard in the full Ways and Means Committee tomorrow at 10 AM.  Limiting the value of the digest seems ludicrous at the moment as counties, cities, and school boards struggle to provide the level of services needed in their communities, but this will be on the agenda tomorrow (Thursday).  It is important that Representatives understand the impact.



Thursday, March 11

The House and Senate convene in the afternoon.

Ad Valorem Subcommittee of House Ways and Means will meet at 9 AM in 133 CAP to hear HB 1186 which would exempt public-private transportation projects from ad valorem taxes.

House Ways and Means Committee will meet at 10 AM in 606 CLOB to hear HB 1139, changing the provisions for notices to taxpayers regarding appeals; HR 1 and HB 517, creating assessment limits on property.

House Education Committee will meet at 10 AM in 506 CLOB to hear HB 936, allowing bus replacement funds to be used to refurbish buses; HB 966, defining permanent classroom space as excluding portables; HB 1130, suspending class size rules through 2013 to allow one extra student in K-5 and two in grades 6-12; HB 1307 and HR 1485, temporarily suspending professional learning requirements for teachers.