Day 38:Flexibility and Governance Bills Go To Governor
by Angela Palm on 4/21/2010

The Legislature finally settled on a version of SB 84, the school board governance bill, to send to the Governor.  At issue has been addressing the nepotism statute that passed last year in a separate  bill. The rest of the provisions remain as the House passed the bill.  

The House amended it to put back in the possibility of a State Board waiver to run for school board if a candidate would be excluded from running because of the nepotism statute and if they live in a district of 2800 FTEs or less.  The potential candidate has to provide 30 days notice.  The local board has to give public notice of a public hearing, pay for it, and hold a hearing to give "an opportunity for full discussion and public input on the issue of potential nepotism problems and other concerns with regard to such waiver."  The Senate agreed to this version, and it now goes to the Governor.  The moral to this seems to be that if you want to run for school board steer your immediate family away from education leadership positions and choose your place of residence wisely.  

HB 908, suspending expenditure controls and allowing system averaging of class sizes for the next three years, passed through the House today as they agreed to the Senate version of the  bill.  The bill also authorizes an additional State Board waiver on class size.  Legislators in both parties struggled over the decision to allow larger class sizes to help districts through this difficult time.  Many fear the effect on student achievement, but research shows class size has little impact unless there are less than 15 students in grades K-3.  It certainly affects other things, though, such as working conditions and classroom management.  Just another balancing act in a whole string of them that district leaders face.  Who knew educators and board members needed to be acrobats?

Today was a long day, and following is a recap of action on education bills.

In The Senate

The following bills passed the Senate today:

HB 571 includes language criminalizing a sexual relationship between a teacher and student whether consensual or not.  It now goes back to the House for agreement.

HB 907, allowing middle school funding for grades 6, 7, and 8 if they follow the middle school model but are in different locations.  The bill was amended on the floor to require additional notification to parents of their child's eligibility for a special needs voucher and other technical changes to the voucher program.  The amendments did not expand the voucher program.  It now goes back to the House for agreement.

HB 923 extends the time to complete a leadership degree.  It goes back to the House for agreement.

HB 980, allowing school board members  to be bail bondsmen in their district.  It now goes to the Governor.

HB 948, the FY 2011 budget, also passed.  It goes back to the House for disagreement and a conference committee.

And In The House

The House took the following action:

Passed SB 340 requiring school systems to report grades for all students in grades 9, 10, 11, and 12 to the Student Finance Commission for HOPE eligibility.  It moves on to the Governor. 

Passed SB 346 revising property tax appeals and assessments.  It goes back to the Senate for agreement.

Passed SB 457 changing the way a cluster charter petition could come to the local board.  It goes back to the Senate for agreement.

Both chambers have now agreed to the supplemental budget, and it goes to the Governor.

SPLOST Bill Tabled

HR 1203 and its companion bill HB 1020 were on the agenda this morning in Senate Finance.  This is a proposed constitutional amendment to allow a portion of SPLOST funds to be used for operations or rolling back the millage in addition to its current uses.  Several committee members, including Senate President Pro Tem Tommie Williams, Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, and Sen. Bill Heath, expressed grave concerns about the possible unintended consequences if this were to pass.  With two substitutes in discussion and little time left in the session, the bill was tabled.  

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

The General Assembly is in recess until Tuesday, April 27.

Thursday, April 22

House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee will meet at 9:30 in 132 CAP.  On the agenda is SB 308, the gun bill.