APS Legislative Update – Friday, January 13, 2012

Atlanta Public Schools Legislative Update

Friday, January 13, 2012

Actions on education legislation under the Gold Dome for 2012 General Session Days 1 – 4

The 2012 Legislative Session began Monday, January 9, 2011. Action was taken on Day One by the Senate, which passed two pieces of legislation that were carryovers from the last session. The two bills passed both chambers last session with slightly different versions, but time ran out before the changes could be made and voted upon. Senate Bill 38 gives the state school superintendent hiring/firing powers without need for SBOE approval. It also increased the amount of contracts the superintendent has authority to sign contracts from $50,000.00 to $250,000.00. SB 184 is the Reduction in Force bill that establishes a task force to review professional learning requirements and make recommendations to the State Board of Education. It also prohibits local boards from making length of service the primary or sole determining factor when implanting a reduction in force. Instead, the primary factor shall be the performance of the educator. Both are headed to the Governor’s desk for signature.

We considered it a victory last year when SB 87, which was a voucher bill that would allow vouchers for dependent children of active duty, National Guard or Reserves, or deceased military parents, was tabled on the Senate floor when the sponsor realized there were not enough votes to pass it. On Day One, of this session, it was removed from table and goes back to the Senate Education & Youth Committee for consideration.

Education Highlights from Governor’s State of the State Address

In his State of the State Address, this week, Governor Nathan Deal said he is including in his budget $1.6 million for a reading mentor program. His goal is to have all children reading on grade level by the third grade. He has added $3.72 million for school nurses, $146.6 million for student enrollment growth and $55.8 million to fund teacher salary increases for their training & experience. He has also added $8.7 million dollars in grants to both the FY 12 supplemental budget and the FY 13 budget for state special charter schools that were affected by the Supreme Court decision on the State Charter School Commission. There will be no reduction in QBE or Equalization. However, after closer review, there is a 2% cut to all other areas.

The following legislation passed in the House Education Committee:

•                HB 705 – Amend Code section relating to direct classroom expenditures, also known as the 65% Rule for classroom instruction.  Technology, transportation, and instructional support including media centers and guidance counselors have been added.  This bill was recommendation of the Education Finance Committee.

•                HB 706 – Repeals over 20 sections of Education Title 20 to make it current to what is happening today. Changes include removing the April 1st deadline for evaluations; shifting the home school reporting to the Department of Education; repealing the requirement to send student codes of conduct to the state; and repealing the law on electronic communication devices at school. This bill was recommendation of the Education Finance Committee.

•                HB 713 – Amends bill passed last year on college and career pathway initiatives to delay the implantation schedule one year to the fall of 2013. This bill introduced at the request of the State Superintendent.

Other Bills Introduced:

•                HB 651 – Repeal a Code section relating to additional three charter system earnings for each full-time equivalent student.

•                HB 654 – Provide for the establishment of grant programs by local school systems. Authorize local boards of education to make available to its students grants to attend participating schools. Includes details on amount of grants, the method of payment and reporting.

•                HB 661 – Require that professional personnel in charter schools comply with the same certification requirements as professional personnel in the public schools in this state.

•                HB 664 – Provide that the Georgia Charter Schools Commission may elect to exclude all teachers in a commission charter school from membership in the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia. Provide that the Georgia Charter Schools Commission may make an irrevocable election to exclude public school employees from membership in the Public School Employees Retirement Fund. Note: This bill was introduced prior to the State Supreme Court’s decision on the Commission.

•                HB 671- Provide for a reduction in the members of the board of education from nine to seven. It was also introduced last year but, was usurped by SB 79, which was similar and passed. Just as a recap, SB 79 set minimum four‐year terms for school board members; reduced the board sizes of districts such as DeKalb County from nine to seven, eliminating two at‐large seats. Though Atlanta was not named, the third part authorizes governor to remove all school board members, and appoint temporary replacements, if the school system has not regained full accreditation status by July 1, 2011.

•                HB 673 – By Jan. 2013, the state board of education, SBOE, shall develop and distribute to local school districts mandatory guidelines for informing and educating coaches, student athletes, and parents about the risks of concussions.  These guidelines must include criteria for removal and return to play, and risks of not reporting the injury and continuing to play.  Local school boards shall, by July 2013, develop procedures and regulations which must require:  annually, each student athlete and parent be given information about concussions and the athlete and parent shall sign that they have received same; immediate removal of a student athlete from activity should a concussion or brain injury be sustained; and no return to play on the same day and only after a medical evaluation with written clearance from the medical provider.

•                HB 679 – Revise certain laws regarding the carrying of firearms; and for other purposes. Would not require the carrier to have a permit or be a resident of the state.

•                HB 689 -Local Boards of Education are authorized to provide health insurance benefits to former board members with at least 12 years of service to be paid for by the former member.

•                HB 692 – A teacher or other certified professional personnel’s salary increase or bonus that is based in whole or in part on an evaluation which included student assessment results or standardized test scores that were falsified by that teacher or professional, or known of or caused by that teacher or professional shall be automatically forfeited. It also requires repayment of any and all amounts previously paid to him or her based, in whole or in part, on the results of falsified student assessments or standardized tests.

•                HR 1093 – A RESOLUTION urging local boards of education to apply for federal funding to retrofit school buses with pollution control devices.

•                SB 291 –Pre-K programs to be funded with general funds, rather than lottery by 2013-2014.

•                SB 308 – Permits proprietary institutions of higher education to participate in establishing college and career academies.

•                SR 646 – A RESOLUTION expressing the will of the Senate to ensure the necessary conditions for expanded high-quality digital learning opportunities for the students of this state.

•                SR 663 – A RESOLUTION supporting the Reading for Learning-Merit Based Student Program.

The General Assembly is in recess next week, and will reconvene on, Monday, January 23, 2011 for Legislative Day 5.

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