Legislative Daily Reports

12/08 - December State Board Meeting

December State Board Meeting
by Justin Pauly on 12/8/2022

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The State Board of Education completed its regular round of monthly meetings today.  The day opened with a two-part inspiration. First, State Board member Martha Zoller introduced her guest Pastor Rod Hughey for a short message.  Second, Dr. Stan DeJarnett invited Muscogee County Superintendent Dr. David Lewis and his choral group from the Rainey-McCullers School of the Arts.  Dr. DeJarnett heard them at the GSBA June conference and wanted the other Board members to hear them. You can hear these very talented students starting at about 23:00 into the recording.

No one wished to speak at the public hearing on the proposed change to the student attendance rule. 

Click on the links for the agendas for the State Board meeting and the Committee of the Whole.  Committee meetings on Wednesday worked from the agenda of the Committee of the Whole.

The Board took the following action today:

  • Amended their bylaws to allow up to two regular meetings to be held outside Atlanta
  • Adopted the amended State Board rule on student attendance to incorporate HB 1292 regarding student participation in 4-H programs or activities
  • Tabled legal appeal 2023-03 to reverse a local board decision (they are checking on the timeline to clarify the deadline for their decision)
  • Approved the nominating committee report so officers remain as they have been this year:  Chair, Jason Downey; Vice-Chair, Dr. Stan DeJarnett; and Vice-Chair of Appeals, Leonte Benton
  • Approved the consent agenda which included- appointments to the State Charter Schools Commission,  posting proposed changes to the Statewide School Nutrition rule, and posting more standards for various subjects

Reports were done during the Committee of the Whole.

Superintendent's Report 

Dr. Keith Osburn, Deputy Superintendent for Technology Services, and Dr. Russ Cook of the Vinson Institute presented a report on the work of their task force, convened by State Superintendent Richard Woods, to develop standards around the purpose and role of technology in the 21st century classroom.

State Superintendent Woods presented Dr. Caitlin Dooley with the Distinguished Service award as she moves on to serve as the Executive Director of Voices for Children.

The Board received an update on the English Language Arts standards.  Comments closed on December 5th so they are still analyzing them.

Chair's Report 

State Board member Mike Royal took a moment of personal privilege to recognize the long career and work of Dr. David McCleskey who has retired from Gwinnett County Schools. 

Major General Tom Carden, Adjutant General of Georgia, talked with the State Board about the purpose and use of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), sometimes referred to as "the military test." It is provided free by the Department of Defense. He told them that nationally only 23% of high school graduates qualify for military service due to academic, medical, and/or obesity reasons.  Gen. Carden said many high schools in Georgia do not allow this testing and many of those who do will not share the testing data with military recruiters. When asked why schools aren't allowing the test, Gen. Carden said the military had not done a good job of communicating with others about it.

Students who take the test are under no obligation to join the military but if they score well, they are likely to receive visits from one or more recruiters. Several Board members shared stories of their children's success due to this vocational battery.  Board member Scott Sweeney suggested they look at a rule to require students be given information about the test and Board member Scott Johnson agreed as they would be mandating information not the test.  An audience member who had transferred here from Oklahoma shared with the Board a law that passed there in 2021 to require all public schools to offer the test to sophomores through seniors and consult with military recruiters.  

Dr. DeJarnett took the opportunity to bring up another issue -- the difficulty schools are having getting ROTC instructors. Gen. Carden said they would work with them on that.

The final part of the Chair's report was from Dr. Thomas Koballa, Dean and Professor of Education at Mercer University.  Dr. Koballa told the Board about the transitional school they will open in Fall 2024, the Roberts Academy at Mercer University in Macon.  It will serve children with dyslexia in grades 2-5. It will be the only school like this outside of Atlanta.

Literacy Efforts Update 

On Wednesday, Joy Hawkins, Executive Director of the Governor's Office of Student Achievement (GOSA) and Stacy Lutz, GOSA Director of Strategic Programs and Evaluations, provided an update on the Growing Readers program.  This is a K-3 literacy professional learning grant designed and implemented by the RESAs across the state. Click on the link for more information on the program. The presentation begins at 15:40 in the recording of the meeting.

Georgia Academy for the Blind Performers 

Eight students from the Georgia Academy for the Blind provided a good end on Wednesday for a day of Committee meetings as they sang three songs and then preformed on the drums. To listen, check the recording about 2:42:00 in.  They are a good reminder of why we do what we do.

The next meeting of the State Board will be January 11-12. 

11/04 - November State Board Report

November State Board Report
11/4/2022

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The State Board of Education met for their November meeting. The committees met Wednesday and the Committee of the Whole and the State Board meetings were held Thursday. To view the list of board items click here to see the full board meeting click here.

The only change to the schedule this month were that the state board of education added two work sessions: one to discuss the future of Foothills, Mountain Education Center, and Coastal Plains charter high schools and the other to discuss assessments. There is more on these below.

Rules Committee

The Rules Committee had three items to consider. The State Board is changing their bylaws to periodically hold meetings outside of Atlanta. This item was pulled for a separate vote. The Bylaws must sit for 30 days before adoption during the December meeting. The next item was the posting of the K-12 English Language Arts Standards. These standards are to revise/ develop and implement viable academic standards that engage learners with essential knowledge, skills, and enduring concepts, according to the GaDOE. The ELA standards were also pulled for discussion and a separate vote for the full meeting. 

A change in the State Board rule on student attendance was also discussed.  It will be adapted to incorporate the legislative change in HB 1292 to count a student present if they are participating in an activity or program of 4-H. This went on the consent agenda for initiation. Adoption of the standards for Research, Design, and Project Management course revision was originally on the agenda but was removed from consideration the day before the meeting.

District Flexibility & Charter Schools Committee

The only item for discussion was a reappointment to state charter schools commission from the Lt Governor, the item went to the consent agenda for the full meeting.

Audit Committee

The Audit Committee discussed the list of moderate and high-risk school districts as it relates to financial controls. Since the last meeting one district was added and four were removed. For more information see the list by clicking here. The goal of this committee is to work with the districts for corrective actions and improvements.

Budget Committee

All items were added to the consent agenda for the full meeting. 

State Schools Committee 

The State Board heard a presentation from the state schools director and his staff regarding student enrollment, data assessment, and results.

Work Session State Charters Foothills, Mountain Ed, and Coastal Plains 

To kick off the session, House Speaker Pro Tem Representative Jan Jones took the podium and spoke of the findings of the report for the house education working committee for alternative education (students who are at risk for dropping out), the committee was in agreement in their conclusions. Speaker Pro Tem Jones indicated that the current model for these three schools needs to be changed. Currently, school districts who are in the region of one of these charter schools can send a student who has dropped out or in jeopardy of dropping out to take classes in a non-traditional way. The current model is a unique option for night/evening school so the student who may have extenuating circumstances can still graduate.  Pro Tem Jones said the committee is concerned with the accountability and the cost of this program which also shifts the burden to the state. This program operates at $43 million for the three schools. The legislative committee also feels the program is over funded for what it provides. They are encouraging school systems to come to the table to help find a solution and the committee requests local districts to step up to allow the schools to become local charters. The legislative committee agrees the schools and the program are valuable but not in its current model. Especially since two of the schools’ contracts are ending next year. She encouraged a collaborative effort on the schools governing boards, local superintendents and boards of education and the state to find the solution.

If you are interested in watching this presentation, click here . The first part was cut off but most of the discussion is captured in the link.

Work Session Assessments

The State Board held a discussion among the members to determine what direction the pilot alternative assessments will go. As of now the districts piloting the assessments are double testing and need to know if it is reasonable to continue the process. The alternative assessments are a formative test. The State Board feels the alternative assessments are high quality and give a picture of how a student is progressing versus a summative assessment which shows how a student performed the previous year. USED wants to see a summative assessment and therefore a discussion must be held with USED to see how they can come to an understanding or gain relief. The State Board wants to hear from the GaDOE on the background, USED guardrails and the state perspective. They also want to know if there is any alternate funding to finish out the pilot since the funding has not been in the budget.

SBOE Committee of the Whole

State Board member, Phenna Petty, brought greetings and introduced Georgia Supreme Court Justice Charlie Bethel to speak for the Inspiration and Pledge of Allegiance.

The full meeting agenda was built during Committee of the Whole.

Full SBOE Meeting

The Board heard a presentation from the GaDOE on the process and background for creating the new ELA standards and how they will be implemented. These standards are available for the 30-day public review and will be up for approval during the SBOE’s December meeting. One concern from the board is timing of the public review, will teachers have the opportunity with Thanksgiving and the end of the semester coming but recognize that finding a perfect time is not possible. The posting of the standards was approved, and the State Board commended the staff for all the work on this initiative and how important these new standards are for Georgia.

Chair’s Report

The State Board Bylaws have been submitted for the 30-day review period and will be up for approval in December. The change allows for meetings outside of Atlanta. New meeting dates for 2023 will be released soon. 

10/06 - September State Board Report

September State Board Report
10/6/2022

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The State Board met for committee meetings on Wednesday, September 28. Click here to review the committee meeting items and here for the full State Board meeting.

Committee Meetings 

Rules

First the Rules Committee met and breezed through their two items, posting the standards for a Research, Design and Project Management course and an amendment adding two RESA’s to the list of Local Board Governance Training Providers. These items were added to the consent agenda for the full State Board meeting.

District Flexibility & Charter Schools

This committee had three items, The first was the list of approved Charter School Board Training providers, next was a charter system renewal for Randolph County and the final item was affirming the State Charter Schools Commission Approvals. All items were added to the consent agenda. 

At the end of the meeting Chairman Jason Downey asked for discussion on school boards that have failed to adopt policies required by recent legislation. He named no names but said it is his hope that have failed to adopt those policies will see that the State Board is discussing it and get the required adoption done.  If they have been adopted by the November meeting, he believes they need to address the issue. The State Board asked the GaDOE to compile a list for review. More on this as it develops.

Budget

The Budget Committee had a list of nine items which all went on the consent agenda. Please visit the link above for committee items if you are interested in seeing what was approved. 

Presentation- Innovative Assessment

The State Board heard presentations regarding the Innovative Assessment pilot for the GMAPS and Putnam consortium using Navvy. This pilot program was a provision of the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015. Five states were approved for the program; Georgia was the only one approved for two competing pilots. 

Marietta City Schools (GMAPS Consortium) and Putnam County (NAVVY Consortium) presented. The two pilot school districts had a high level of frustration with the GaDOE and the SBOE as to the direction of the programs. They said neither the SBOE, the GaDOE nor the USED had provided feedback or resources on the pilot programs and that the future was uncertain. The districts did not want to proceed with the amount of work and testing without indication of where the program was going. 

After much discussion the SBOE and the GaDOE agreed that the programs should be reprioritized and added an item to the SBOE retreat agenda to discuss the direction, support, and resources towards these two pilot assessment programs. If you would like to watch the presentations and discussion, click here and start at the 1:59:25 mark. To see the state reports on the pilots so far, check here.

SBOE Meeting

The State Board meeting on Thursday, September 29 went quickly with all items on the consent agenda with the exception of two legal appeals which were pulled for a separate vote. The State Board reversed the local board’s decision in appeal 2022-28 and remanded appeal 2022-31 to the local board with instructions to make further findings and conclusions as to the student’s self-defense claim after applying the appropriate law. 

Most of the meeting time was spent listening to a presentation on literacy from the Rollins Center for Language and Literacy. To watch the presentation, click here and start at the 1:04:27 mark. 

The State Board will hold their retreat on Jekyll Island October 10-12. 

08/26 - August State Board Meeting

August State Board Meeting
8/26/2022

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The State Board of Education met Wednesday, August 22 for committee meetings and Thursday, August 23 for Committee of the Whole and the State Board meeting. The meetings were fairly routine. The Wednesday schedule for meetings allowed for 30 minutes or less for each committee to work through their items. The agenda was not extensive, so they worked efficiently and stayed on schedule. Thursday’s meetings also went as planned. To view the committee meeting schedule click here and to view Thursday’s full agenda, click here.

Rules

The Rules Committee only had one item for consideration. This was a new rule for adoption, the Dyslexia Identification and Support which requires policies for screening for dyslexia in grades k-3 for students exhibiting signs or symptoms of dyslexia and to provide parents resources and a process for monitoring progress of the student. The Dyslexia Task Force will continue to meet to advise the process. Training resources and materials will be developed for distribution as well. Since this item is a rule for adoption it was pulled for a separate vote during the full State Board meeting Thursday.

District Flexibility and Charter Schools

The Flexibility Committee had four items on the agenda. Three charter renewals, system renewal for Taliaferro County Schools, Dougherty County charter renewal for Commodore Conyers College and Career Academy, and Griffin Spalding County charter renewal for Griffin Region College and Career Academy. There was also an item to approve the State Charter Schools Commission renewals for which there were two.

Budget

The Budget Committee had 12 items mostly consisting of grants and contracts. The Governor’s announcement on designating $125 million for School Based Health Centers for Title I schools was added to the State Boards Agenda August 23rd and the Department of Education is tasked with administering the program. The Chair of the committee Matt Donaldson asked when will this program be implemented? The Department of Education indicated that since the money was so newly designated, they are developing the implementation plan and guidelines and that the State Board will be updated on how the money will be spent. The money must be used for infrastructure and renovations for physical space, salaries, supplies etc.

Audits

The Audit Committee met but only had 15 minutes. The discussion centered around the list of districts that are high risk and it was shared that some districts are making the corrective action to address the findings and that some are not. Most issues were specifically around financial controls. The State Board and the Department are working to see how they can help these districts get off the list and on track. The Department is trying to ensure that the district financial staff implements internal controls and works with RESAs (through finance job alike meetings). Audits Chair Mike Royal wants to find partnerships and collaborations to help the districts who are still having issues. The Department has had onsite visits and offered support and consulting services and are monitoring the high-risk districts to ensure compliance. No action was taken during the Audits committee.

SBOE Meeting 

The State Board meeting began with an inspiration introduced by Dr. Stan DeJarnett, Vice Chair. Dr. Dejarnett invited Dr. Valera Hudson, Pediatrician in Chief at Children’s Hospital of Georgia in Augusta. She presented on mental health and resources for helping and supporting children in need. She also highlighted the Kevin & Brittany Kisner Foundation, which is helping to start the Children’s Pediatric Behavioral Health and Wellness program at Children’s Hospital of Georgia in Augusta.

Public Hearing

The rule for the Dyslexia Identification and Support had a public hearing. Only one speaker spoke, and they were in support for the new rule for Dyslexia Identification and Support.

Agenda

The consent agenda included all items for action with the exception of the Dyslexia rule. The consent agenda passed unanimously. The next action taken was for the adoption of State Board rule for the Dyslexia Identification and Support which passed unanimously. The rule was praised by the State Board members for all the hard work over the last 2 years to develop it and for the task force and their advisory role as stake holders.

State School Superintendent’s Report

State School Superintendent Richard Woods recognized the following Georgia elementary, middle and high school principals and assistant principals:

Elementary School National Distinguished Principal Dr. Elgin Mayfield, Houston County

Elementary School National Outstanding Assistant Principal, Denise Reynolds, Dawson County

GA Middle School & National Distinguished Principal of the Year, Dr. Jeanette Hallan, East Coweta Middle School, Coweta County

GA Middle School & National Distinguished Assistant Principal of the Year, Thomas County Middle School, Thomas County

GA High School Principal of the Year, LeAnn McCall, Lowndes County High School, Lowndes County

GA High School Assistant Principal of the Year, Krista Pearson, Lowndes County High School, Lowndes County

Superintendent Woods also had Keith Osborne, CIO, Technology Services, GaDOE, present on the work of the Technology Services. He talked about what the GaDOE is doing with cyber security. He also talked about resources for teachers and discussed the Ga Inspire Instructional Supports (curriculum resources for teachers and classroom supports), Ga Learns professional learning, Ga Insights data visualization, GaDOE Online Community and collaboration platform.

Chair’s Report

The Chair opened up the floor for board member comments before adjournment.

Phenna Petty- Condolences to the Deal family on the passing of Ms. Sandra Deal, wife of former Governor Nathan Deal

Helen Rice- Remembering Ms. Sandra Deal for her work in public education and at the Governor’s Mansion

Scott Johnson- Condolences to the Deal Family and the valued relationship with the State Board of Education

Mike Royal- Condolences and prayers to the Deal family, and the strong family they modeled

Lisa Kinnemore- Condolences to the Deal family for their commitment to the state of Georgia

Kenneth Mason- Thanks to the GaDOE and the staff for their hard work for the state of Georgia and Deputy State Superintendent Stephanie Johnson and her school turnaround team

Richard Woods- Thanks to Stephanie Johnson and her work, and the staff at GaDOE, Condolences to the Deal family

Dr. Stan Dejarnett- condolences to the Deal family, congratulations to the principals for their service and their staff’s hard work, partnership and collaboration is the key to success

Adjourn

07/21 - July State Board of Education Meeting

July State Board of Education Meeting
by Justin Pauly on 7/21/2022

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July 2022 

State Board of Education Meeting

The State Board of Education met for their monthly meeting. Committee meetings were held Wednesday and the Committee of the Whole and the State Board meeting were held on Thursday as per their typical schedule. The State Board committee meetings stuck to a tight schedule with 15 or 30 minutes slated for each committee.

Rules

The 2 transportation rules were up for adoption, if you remember these have been long awaited. The first was a new Rule 160-5-3-.17, Use of Alternative Vehicles for the Transport of Specified Student Groups. Senate Bill 159, from the 2021 Legislative Session, expanded the definition of vehicles that can be used to transport students under certain conditions, which required the State Board to adopt a new rule. The second, was Rule 160-5-3-.02 Contracted Transportation Services. This rule, “updates information from the current rule requested for repeal and grants local educational agencies the opportunity to utilize the services of contracted transportation carriers who may use alternative vehicles to transport a specified student group as allowed under OCGA § 20-2-1076.” 

The next item of interest was initiation of Rule 160-4-2-.39, Dyslexia Identification and Support. This new Rule was created to comply with state law to develop policies for referring students in kindergarten and grades one through three for screening who have been identified through the response-to-intervention process as having characteristics of dyslexia, other disorders, or both. 

The remaining items were added to the consent agenda. 

Budget

All Budget Committee items were added to the consent agenda, with most items either grants or contracts. There was a discussion around the Budget Item for FY23 School Based Health Center Renovation Grant, some State Board members felt there is not sufficient guidance for the grant where the greatest need may be, i.e. mental health. GaDOE is currently writing guidance for those using the grant and for others who may utilize the grant in the future. Item 23, $50,000-$250,000 Contracts, one specific contract was pulled for a separate vote, the Southern Region Educational Board, because a State Board member works at SREB.

District Flexibility & Charter Schools

There were 2 items for Flexibility and Charter. One was for a charter amendment and the other was for a charter renewal. Both items were moved to consent.

Committee of the Whole

The inspiration was provided by Mr. Tom Bailey, a Physical Education Teacher at Briar Vista Elementary School in Dekalb County. He has a compelling story about his life through perseverance and overcoming adversity to achieve his dream of graduating college and ultimately becoming a teacher. 

The committee chairs reported on their meetings so the full State Board meeting agenda could be put together.

State Board Meeting

The consent agenda was approved. The 2023 Georgia Teacher of the Year was introduced and spoke. The Georgia Teacher of the Year, Michael Kobito, has a non-voting seat on the State Board of Education. This is the third Georgia Teacher of the Year since legislation was passed adding this seat. Mr. Kobito is an AP Music Theory teacher high school band director at Woodland High School in the Bartow County School System. 

Each item that was pulled for a separate vote was passed, including both transportation rules. The State Board expressed appreciation for all the work on both transportation rules and indicated that additional guidance will be available.

There was no Superintendents report and no Chair’s report.            

The next meeting will be August 24 & 25, 2022.

07/08 - Summer Catch Up including Study Committees

Summer Catch Up including Study Committees
by Angela Palm on 7/8/2022

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Hopefully you are all enjoying some summer relaxation!  There are a few things to catch up on that might be of interest to you.

Study Committees 

Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan has named members to three Senate Study Committees that will be of interest to many of you.

  • Review of Education Funding Mechanisms, created by SR 650, has its first meeting scheduled for August 19th at Noon in 450 CAP; members are:
    • Sen. Majority Leader Mike Dugan, Chair
    • Sen. Appropriations Committee Chair Blake Tillery
    • Democratic Caucus Secretary Nan Orrock
    • Sen. Higher Education Committee Chair Lindsey Tippins
    • Sen. Education & Youth Committee Chair Chuck Payne
    • Sen. Billy Hickman, ex-officio 
  • Transparency in High School Athletic Associations, created by SR 802, no meeting posted yet; members are:
    • Sen. Retirement Committee Chair Randy Robertson, Chair
    • Sen. Bo Hatchett, a Governor's Floor Leader
    • Sen. Clint Dixon, a Governor's Floor Leader
    • Sen. Nikki Merritt
    • Sen. State Institutions & Property Committee Chair Ed Harbison 
  • Development Authorities and Downtown Development Authorities, created by SR 809,  no meeting posted yet; if any of you have stories to tell -- positive and negative -- about the impact of development authority decisions on school districts, please send them to me; members are:
    • Sen. Ethics Committee Chair Max Burns, Chair
    • Sen. Clint Dixon, a Governor's Floor Leader
    • Sen. Majority Whip Steve Gooch
    • Sen. Elena Parent
    • Sen. Michael "Doc" Rhett
    • Sen. Rules Chair Jeff Mullis, ex-officio 

Please note that listing a Senator as a Governor's Floor Leader is just an acknowledgment of a position held not an indication that the Governor has any involvement in the issue. 

Revenue Picture Still Sunny 

This morning Gov. Brian Kemp announced the June revenue was up 14%, that's over $354 million more in net revenue, from last June.  FY '22 finished with net collections up $6.2 billion, over 23% if you like percentages, from FY '21. Individual and corporate income taxes, sales and use taxes, and tag ad valorem taxes were all up.  Motor fuel taxes are of course down due to the continued suspension of the motor fuel excise tax, and aren't we all glad to get that break?

Federal/National 

Pres. Joe Biden has signed into law two pieces of legislation impacting schools. The Keep Kids Fed Act extends some of the flexibility around school meals granted earlier in the pandemic.  The link will take you to a fact sheet on the Act. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act includes funding for mental health and schools (pages 2 and 3 of the fact sheet)

The House has done some work on the FY '23 spending bill that includes education and could vote on it soon, but the Senate hasn't yet done any preliminary work on it.  

The U.S. Department of Education released the unofficial proposed Title IX regulations a couple of weeks ago.  They will do a separate rulemaking for Title IX and athletics. The official notice of a proposed rulemaking will be published in the Federal Register which will kick off a 60 day period for public comments, so currently nothing has changed. 

In efforts to support students' academic recovery, the Best Practices Clearinghouse has been expanded, an effort to recruit 250,000 volunteers to serve as tutors, mentors, etc. has begun, and a National Parents and Families Engagement Council is being created. 

05/11 - May State Board Meeting

May State Board Meeting
by Angela Palm on 5/11/2022

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The State Board of Education held its regular monthly meetings this week.  Wednesday was its day of Committees; the Committee of the Whole met Thursday just prior to the State Board meeting.  The meetings are also available on the Georgia Department of Education's Youtube channel.

Rules

Dr. Stephen Pruitt of SREB presented the Committee the Final Report and Recommendations of the Dyslexia Rule Review Committee. Efforts to adopt a rule for the implementation of SB 48, passed in 2019, have been ongoing -- a testament to the often complex task of moving from legislation to rules.

All items were approved to go on the consent agenda for the full Board on Thursday.  There will be 23 approved trainers for local boards. More private schools want to participate in the special needs/504 voucher program. The 2020-2021 report on the program contains a list of schools previously approved.

Two sets of standards are set to be adopted. These courses will then be added to the State-Funded List of K-8 Subjects and 9-12 Courses. Six more sets of standards are set to be posted for comment. Amendments to the rule on Dual Enrollment are being initiated. The changes will clarify the requirement for "Option B" students to complete and pass the American Government course and the Personal Finance and Economics course.  It will also update the language related to the American Literature and Composition course approved by the State Board in March 2021.

Budget 

The Committee moved through the 21 items quickly with little discussion.  They were all approved to go on the consent agenda. The items include the 2023 state salary schedule, the Department's budget, and funding for focus areas such as increasing access to CTAE programming, Dyslexia Endorsement programs, Teacher and Teacher Leader Endorsement programs, and cyber security awareness and training. See the agenda for this Committee on the Committee of the Whole linked at the top of this page.

District Flexibility & Charter Schools  

All five items were approved for the consent agenda.  They include four charter system renewals and one charter school contract amendment.

Committee of the Whole 

Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Dillard provided the inspiration and led the Pledge of Allegiance.  He talked about the importance of government transparency and of educating people on government and judicial processes.  He noted school groups are beginning to tour the new Nathan Deal Judicial Center, the state's first building dedicated to the courts.

Committee chairs reported out to build the consent agenda.

State Board of Education 

The consent agenda was approved.  Almost forgotten were two legal appeals held for a separate vote.  One case was reversed and remanded to the Cobb County Board of Education with instructions to provide reasonable notice consistent with the decision and a new hearing.  The second case was reversed and remanded to the Gwinnett County Board of Education with instructions to review and consider the student's appeal including the supplemental letter. The full agenda with attachments is linked at the top of the page.

State Superintendent Richard Woods was with Governor Kemp for the signing of the 2023 budget, so Chief of Staff Matt Jones provided the Superintendent's Report. 

  • The English Language Arts (ELA) standards are being reviewed by 250 classroom ELA teachers.  The same process is being followed as with the review of the Math standards.
  • May is Teacher Appreciation Month. Supt. Woods issued a letter to teachers earlier this month to thank them for their hard work. Cherie Bonder Dennis, the 2022 Georgia Teacher of the Year and ex-officio member of the State Board, was recognized.  Her year will soon be up and Michael Kobito, an AP Music Theory teacher and band director at Woodland High School in Bartow County, will take the title and position.
  • In keeping with the "Not Recovery but ReImagine" theme the State Supt. has had all year, there was a presentation on two priority areas: data privacy and security and getting more actionable data. Keith Osburn, the Department's Chief Information Officer and Deputy Superintendent for Technology Services, and his team did a presentation outlining cybersecurity training efforts and a district data dashboard.

Chairman Jason Downey led the Chair's Report.  Details for the fall retreat are being finalized.  It will be October 10-12.  Several State Board members have recently held their statutorily required annual public hearing, and a few have had a particularly good turnout. 

The next regularly scheduled meetings will be held June 15-16. 

04/06 - 2022 Session Recap: Interesting Times

2022 Session Recap: Interesting Times
by Angela Palm on 4/6/2022

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It was the best of times (hello budgets!) and ... the weirdest of times (most of the rest), but to everybody's relief this session of the General Assembly is over.  Since it's an election year a certain amount of grandstanding and narrative building was expected, but this session was a whole new level of carrying on about stopping things that haven't happened and the need to pass laws that were already law.  If we put them in twice, do they count twice?  Maybe we should go for the proverbial three time's a charm?

If you just want the summary of what passed and what it includes, skip on down, but for advocacy work it is important for you to understand more than that. There was a strong narrative this year about putting parents in charge, parents' rights, "woke school boards," parents being banned from school board meetings, educators making children cry, etc. 

  • Nobody disputes that parents are important. What parents want, what voters want, and what taxpayers want all matter -- and they do not all want the same thing.
  • All leaders are forced to make hard decisions that some will agree with and others won't. 
  • If someone gets an answer they do not like, it does not mean they were not heard.
  • If an educator tells a student he or she is a racist or is guilty of horrendous crimes because of the color of their skin, that is a personnel matter to be dealt with ASAP and not a state crisis. 

A bill outside the education realm provides another look at the perception some seemed to be trying to create about our schools. Take a look at a provision in the bill on the distribution and use of abortion-inducing drugs (SB 456, passed the Senate 31-22, passed a House Committee but did not come up for a vote in the House despite last minute efforts):

"Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter or the laws of this state, abortion-inducing drugs shall not be provided on state grounds or in any elementary school, secondary school, or postsecondary institution in this state that receives state funds." 


We worried about how to get the auto-injectable epinephrine, commonly called EpiPens, we are required to have on hand, and now they are implying we have abortion-inducing drugs to hand out?  Some of the same people pushing the controversial education bills were also pushing SB 456. Interesting ideas they have about what we're doing in our public schools. 

What Happened? 

Wow, what a year!  Both the amended and '23 budget were a sight to behold.  The only snag came with the question of GNETS funding but in the end it was settled sensibly. The Department of Education is to evaluate the program in consultation with stakeholders to provide strategic statutory recommendations and funding formula updates to the Office of Planning & Budget and the House and Senate Budget offices by November 1, 2022.  In the meantime, the program was funded as previously.

Here's a one page summary of some of the budget provisions. We appreciate the Governor, House and Senate leadership, and the legislators for their work and for prioritizing K-12 education. 

For a complete list of bills that passed, check our list. All the bills are summarized in our Capitol Watch system, some with a lot of detail. HB 1084, for example is explained thoroughly.

The Governor has to May 14th to sign or veto bills. 

What Didn't Happen? 

No new voucher programs passed nor did either of the public school choice for students in military families.  HB 517 raised the cap on income tax credits to $120 million and increased the amounts donors can give.

Athletics associations have been a hot topic for a few years and this was no exception.  They ended up with only a requirement for an executive oversight committee added to HB 1084 and a Senate Study Committee, SR 802.  If that wasn't enough divisiveness for that bill, it includes a reference to the athletic association determining the need to address transgender athletes competing in girls sports since SB 435 did not pass.  Actually it's a bit confusing because that is listed as part of the authority and duties of the oversight committee but says the association will decide. So no new athletic associations were created. 

Surprisingly the Student Technology Protection Act, HB 1217, did not pass.  Surprising because in the hearings on SB 226, on harmful materials being made available to minors, there was as much complaining about material available to students online as there were about books.

Unfortunately, HB 1295 did not pass either.  That would have taken the punishment out of receiving a "needs development" rating for teachers.  That rating is a need for mentoring and professional development not punishment.

Accreditation created some chatter but fizzled in the end as neither SB 498, making massive changes, nor HR 1048, creating a study committee passed.

Thanks for reading, for your advocacy, and for your service.  We appreciate you! 

04/05 - Day 40: Sine Die

Day 40: Sine Die
by Justin Pauly on 4/5/2022

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The final day of the 2022 legislative session was… long. Lionel Richie said it best, “all night long.” Much of the day seemed to drag on with not much getting done. Which means there were some negotiations going on in the background. By nightfall it began to pick up with activity as we inched closer and closer to the midnight hour. So, when the clock hands pointed at the 12 or a little past, here is what we know.

FY23 Budget

The House & Senate came to an agreement during the Joint Appropriations Conference Committee. Appropriations for the House & Senate submitted their reports to their respective chambers for agreement. The two most significant changes include:

=      The restoration of the GNETS funding back to the same levels as last year’s budget. The Department of Education will be responsible for evaluating the program with stakeholders and reporting the recommendations to Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, House Budget & Research Office and Senate Budget and Evaluation Office by November 1, 2022.

=      Salary increase for certified teachers and employees of $2,000 for a total raise of $5,000 as promised by the Governor.

The House adopted the Appropriations Conference Committee Report for HB 911 by a vote of 160-5. The Senate adopted the Appropriations Conference Committee Report for HB 911 by a vote of 53-0. Click here to read the adopted FY 23 Budget.

Bills Passed

The following bills passed today and we will update our summaries to reflect the language of the final bills. A complete “what just happened” report will be out in a couple of days.

HR 881 Encourage Public Schools to study Civil Rights Era and related subjects. Interestingly the resolution is to be sent to all state entities, not the school districts

HB 517Conference committee report for allowing income tax credits for donations to student scholarship organizations, cap was raised to $120 million. Passed House 98-68; failed n first Senate vote but passed upon reconsideration, 30-21

HB 1084 Divisive Concepts, picked up some additions with GHSA and saving girls’ sports. The oversight committee of SB 51 was carried over with a few differences. The “Save Girls Sports Act” ended up very differently than in SB 435. In this bill, it is up to the athletic association to decide whether it is “necessary and appropriate to prohibit students whose gender is male from participating in athletic events designated for students whose gender is female.” If they decide it is they who may adopt a policy. The House passed it 98-71; the Senate, 32-21.

SB 345 prohibit state and local governments from mandating vaccine passports. The Senate agreed to the House substitute, 34-20.

HB 1215 The bill makes changes to the charter schools’ statute. The Senate passed the House version,45-9.

HB 1283, the recess bill, received final passage with the House agreement to the Senate version, 159-6. We missed the Senate Rules Committee making a change a few days ago.

HB 1461, annexation dispute resolution, passed with the House agreement to the Senate version.

SB 220 "The Georgia Civics Renewal Act," has had a long, winding road this two-year session. It passed both chambers tonight with requirements for financial literacy coursework and a Georgia Commission for Civics Education.

04/01 - Day 39: Divisive Concepts & Parents Bill of Rights

Day 39: Divisive Concepts & Parents Bill of Rights
by Justin Pauly on 4/1/2022

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The Gold Dome was buzzing with activity today. Both chambers are prioritizing their calendars and working diligently with a race to the finish on Monday at midnight. 

We also still have conference committees trying to come to agreement on a few items of interest. Most notably the FY23 Budget and also the tax credit bill for student scholarship organizations HB 517

Legislators still have the weekend to sort through any issues on bills and come to an understanding to be voted on Monday. Monday could hold a few surprises. Fingers crossed…

Senate Floor

The Senate passed HB 1084 the Divisive Concepts bill by committee substitute with a vote of 32-21 and will go back to the House for agreement. They also passed HB 1178, the Parents Bill of Rights by a vote of 31-22, which will move on to the Governor for his consideration. Neither bill had any debate on the floor which is a bit unusual since they are such controversial pieces of legislation. Lastly, the Senate passed the recess bill, HB 1283, by a 54-0 vote. It now moves to the Governor for consideration.

House Floor

The House agreed to the Senate substitute for HB 1303,the agricultural education program. The is an agricultural education program for elementary schools. If a local board chooses to participate, they must fund the program and hire an ag ed teacher. It now moves to the Governor for consideration.

Schedule

Monday, April 4- Sine Die, Day 40