Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Good news to share!

This afternoon the House Appropriations unanimously reported HB1490 (Habeeb). The bill directs the Board of Education to promulgate regulations to provide the same criteria for eligibility for an expedited retake of any Standards of Learning test, with the exception of the writing Standards of Learning tests, to each student regardless of grade level or course. Governor McAuliffe has included $200,000 in his budget amendments for the costs of these expedited retakes beginning in the 2015-2016 school year. 

Another very busy day in the Education Committees.

It’s been another busy day at the General Assembly with several committee and subcommittee meetings. This morning, the bills below were reported from the full House Education committee. Additionally, there were two bills before the Senate Finance committee that the committee reported and VSBA offered their support. 

SB866 (Chafin) and SB1075 (Vogel), relating to the option for localities to participate in the state employee health plan, reported unanimously with a substitute. The substitute bill allows local school boards and local governments to participate in the state employee health plan. However, it does require the authorization from both the local school board and local governing body to participate in the plan. 

Report from the House Education committee

HB1672 (Greason) was reported and referred from the committee on a 20-2 vote. This legislation repeals the A-F school grading system and requires the Board of Education, in consultation with the SOL Innovation Committee, to redesign the School Performance Report Card so that it is more effective in communicating to parents and the public the status and achievements of the public schools and local school divisions. HB1313, HB1566, and HB2180 were all tabled in lieu of HB1672 which will be the vehicle used for A-F school grading moving forward. The bill has been referred to the Committee on Appropriations due to the potential fiscal impact of redesigning the School Performance Report Card

HB1675 (Greason) was reported from committee with amendments. The new bill incorporates components of HB1491, HB1592 and HB1684. The bill permits local school divisions to waive 1) the requirement for students to receive 140 clock hours of instruction to earn a standard credit or 2) the requirement for students to achieve a satisfactory score on a SOL assessment test or Board-approved substitute test to earn a verified credit upon providing the Board with satisfactory proof, based on Board guidelines, that the students for whom such requirements are waived have learned the content and skills included in the relevant Standards of Learning. The Board guidelines will provide that a satisfactory score on a locally developed alternative assessment or on an Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate examination is proof that the student has learned the content.

HB2238 (LaRock) which creates Parental Choice Education Savings Accounts failed to report from the full committee on a 10-10 vote. It is expected that this legislation may be brought back up for consideration at another committee meeting. This bill will allow parents of qualified students to apply to the Department of Education for the Savings Account to consist of the student’s state per pupil funding and certain special education funds. Those funds may be used for certain expenses of the student including tuition, fees, or required textbooks at a private school, preschool, or program of home instruction, educational therapies or services, tutoring services, curriculum, tuition or fees for a private online learning program, fees for a nationally standardized norm-references achievement test, contributions to a qualified tuition program, or tuition, fees, or required textbooks at a public two-year or four-year higher education institution or an accredited private higher education institution in the Commonwealth. A qualified student means a resident of the Commonwealth and who:
  • Has a 504 or IEP plan;
  • Has a parent who is a member of the armed forces of the United States;
  • Lives in a permanent foster care placement; or
  • Was accepted for placement for foster care and was adopted.

HB2318 (Orrock) reported with a substitute 18-4. This bill would require the Board of Education’s formula for assessing high school graduation rates, as used for the Standards of Accreditation, to exclude from rates of on-time graduates each student who fails to graduate on time based on extenuating circumstances that are outside of the control of the local board in extenuating circumstances.

House Education Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee:

In addition to the full House Education Committee (reported below), the Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee also met today.  The subcommittee recommending reporting HB 1351 (Ramadan) related to biliteracy diploma seals, HB 1627 (R. Bell)m which allows an alternative assessment for economics education and financial literacy, and HB 1952 (Poindexter) related to the sale or transfer of school buses.

In addition, HB 1443 (Bell), which would require the Board of Education to adopt regulations on the use of seclusion and restraint was also recommended for reporting unanimously.  An identical bill has already been passed by the Senate. 

HB 1612 (Greason) was amended in subcommittee and would require certain online service providers who contract with school divisions to meet certain requirements related to data privacy and the use of student data.  The amended bill was recommended for reporting.

Senate Subcommittee on Public Education:

Finally, the Public Education Subcommittee of the Senate Education and Health Committee also met today.  The subcommittee reported SB 900 (Barker) related to the dates for administering SOL assessments, SB 1116 (Barker) related to alternative assessments for students with limited English proficiency, and SB 1021 (Puller), which allows school boards to count as instructional time up to 15 minutes per day of recess. 

The subcommittee also considered SB 1145 (Alexander), which is related to training for school board members.  SB 1145 was amended earlier this week to be identical to HB 1962 (Landes), which VSBA supports.  Today, however, the subcommittee further amended SB 1145 to remove many of the important provisions, including the listing of topics that would be the subject of training.  The subcommittee reported the amended bill. 

And we saved a bit of good new for last ... Senator Favola's SB 980 was scheduled to be heard today in the Senate subcommittee This bill would have reversed much of the good work that was accomplished - and to which VSBA contributed greatly - in the 2013 session when the teacher grievance procedure statutes were rewritten.  SB 980 would have restored the three-person fact finding panel process to the grievance procedure.  VSBA is strongly opposed to SB 980 and we have been lobbying Senator Favola to change her mind about this bill.  Today, Senator Favola withdrew SB 980 - a huge win for VSBA and school boards across Virginia.     
 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A snowy morning at the General Assembly

Early this morning the House Education Reform subcommittee met to take up a number of bills related to A-F school grading and alternative assessments. Below is a summary of their actions.

HB1672 (Greason) was reported from the subcommittee. This legislation repeals the A-F school grading system and requires the Board of Education, in consultation with the SOL Innovation Committee, to redesign the School Performance Report Card so that it is more effective in communicating to parents and the public the status and achievements of the public schools and local school divisions. HB1313, HB1566, and HB2180 were all tabled in lieu of HB1672 which will be the vehicle used for A-F school grading moving forward.

HB1675 (Greason) was reported from subcommittee with amendments. The new bill incorporates components of HB1491, HB1592 and HB1684. The bill requires the Board of Education, in establishing course and credit requirements for a high school diploma, to allow local school divisions to waive 1) the requirement for students to receive 140 clock hours of instruction to earn a standard credit or 2) the requirement for students to achieve a satisfactory score on a SOL assessment test to earn a verified credit upon providing the Board with satisfactory score on a locally developed alternative assess or on an Advanced Placement  or International Baccalaureate examination.

HB2238 (LaRock) which creates Parental Choice Education Savings Accounts reported from subcommittee on a 3-2 vote. This bill will allow parents of qualified students to apply to the Department of Education for the Savings Account to consist of the student’s state per pupil funding and certain special education funds. Those funds may be used for certain expenses of the student including tuition, fees, or required textbooks at a private school, preschool, or program of home instruction, educational therapies or services, tutoring services, curriculum, tuition or fees for a private online learning program, fees for a nationally standardized norm-references achievement test, contributions to a qualified tuition program, or tuition, fees, or required textbooks at a public two-year or four-year higher education institution or an accredited private higher education institution in the Commonwealth. A qualified student means a resident of the Commonwealth and who:
  •  Has a 504 or IEP plan;
  • Has a parent who is a member of the armed forces of the United States;
  •  Lives in a permanent foster care placement; or
  • Was accepted for placement for foster care and was adopted.

HB2318 (Orrock) reported with an amendment 6-1. This bill would require the Board of Education’s formula for assessing high school graduation rates, as used for the Standards of Accreditation, to exclude from rates of on-time graduates each student who fails to graduate on time based on circumstances that are outside of the control of the local board in extenuating circumstances.

HB1448 (McQuinn) and HB2005 (Torian) were stricken from the docket in subcommittee at the request of the patrons.  

All of the bills that reported from the House Education Reform subcommittee are on the full House Education committee docket for tomorrow morning. More updates to come!


Friday, January 23, 2015

VSBA Advocacy in Action at the General Assembly

This morning the House Counties, Cities, and Towns committee took action on HB1383 (Morris). This legislation would allow local governing bodies to remove appointees at any time, including school board members, with a 2/3 majority vote of the local governing body. VSBA activated members from the 20 appointed school boards to contact their legislators and members of the committee to urge their opposition to the bill. With help from those appointed school board members, including several who passionately testified before the committee, we were able to successfully defeat this legislation on a 13-5 vote, flipping many of the votes from subcommittee. 

Thank you to all of those board members who wrote letters, made phone calls, and advocated against HB1383, especially those who traveled to Richmond to testify. Your voice made a difference! 


Richmond County Board Members John Brown and Brenda Pemberton testify before the House Counties, Cities, and Towns committee on HB1383. 

Legislators listen to testimony from school board members on HB1383. 


Senate Education and Health Committee update

Thursday morning the Senate Education and Health committee met to take action on a packed agenda. Below is a summary of the actions taken on public education related bills.

SB724 (Black) prohibits the Virginia Board of Education from adopting any revisions to the Standards of Learning that implement the Common Core State Standards without prior statutory approve from the General Assembly. After much discussion regarding the fact that Virginia was in the process of revising its standards and had no intention of implementing the Common Core State Standards, the bill reported from the committee on a close vote of 9-6.

SB782 (Favola) requires the Board of Education to adopt regulations on the use of seclusion and restraint in public elementary and secondary schools in the Commonwealth. These regulations must: 
  • Be consistent with the Guidelines for the Development of Policies and Procedures for Managing Student Behavior in Emergency Situations and the Fifteen Principles contained in the U.S. Department of Education’s Restraint and Seclusion Resource Document;
  • Include definitions, criteria for use, restrictions for use, training requirements, notification requirements, reporting requirements, and follow-up requirements; and
  • Address distinctions, including distinctions in emotional and physical development, between the general student population and the special education student population as well as elementary school students and secondary school students. 
Due to the large fiscal impact on school divisions, VSBA has opposed the bill and continues to work with the patron. The bill was reported from committee on an 11-4 vote.

SB821 (Miller) repeals the Opportunity Educational Institution. The bill reported unanimously from the committee.

SB823 (Miller) which changes the requirement that school provide a program of physical fitness to a program of physical activity.  The bill also requires that the program of physical activity for grades kindergarten through five consist of at least 20 minutes per day or an average of 100 minutes per week during the regular school year.  The bill does not alter the minutes (150 per week on average) that the program of physical activity be made available to students in grades six through twelve. The bill was reported from the committee on a 14-1 vote.

SB852 (Carrico) was amended by the patron to clarify that the definition of “corporal punishment” does not include physical activities prescribed as part of an accredited high school athletic program. At VSBA’s request another amendment was included that states that this act is declaratory of existing law. With both amendments, SB852 reported unanimously from committee.

SB874 unanimously passed the full committee. The bill, which incorporates SB757 (Barker),SB897 (Miller), SB984 (Garrett), and SB995 (Stuart), directs the Board of Education to promulgate regulations to provide the same criteria for eligibility for an expedited retake of any Standards of Learning test, with the exception of the writing Standards of Learning tests, to each student regardless of grade level or course.

The committee plans to meet twice next week to handle many of the bills that have been referred to Senate Education and Health. Check back for more updates! 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

First meeting of the House Elementary and Secondary Education subcommittee

Immediately following the House Education Committee, the Elementary and Secondary Education subcommittee held its first meeting of the session. The following bills were considered:

HB1307 (Landes) removes the requirement to collect federal social security numbers from a student (or their parent) and prohibits the Department of Education and local school boards from requiring a student (or their parent) to provide their federal social security number. The bill also requires the Department of Education to develop a system of unique student identification numbers and requires each local school board to assign such a number to each student enrolled in a public elementary or secondary school. The bill reported unanimously with two amendments. We will update you as soon as those amendments are available for review. 

HB1304 (Farrell) allows eligible local school divisions to apply for grants to lease educational technology under the Virginia Public School Educational Technology Grants Program. Under current law, grants are only available for the acquisition and replacement of educational technology. Some concerns were raised over the availability of these funds for leasing equipment. VSBA will continue to work with the patron to support this legislation as it moves through the committee process. The subcommittee recommended unanimously reporting and referring to the House Appropriations Committee.

HB1484 (Tyler) changes the date in which the governing body of a county must prepare and approve their annual budget for educational purposes to May 15th which conforms the county budget preparation and approval process to that of municipalities. This bill reported unanimously from the subcommittee.

HB1514 (Minchew) requires, for the purpose of determining the state and local shares of basic aid funding, that the composite index of local ability-to-pay or "local composite index" (LCI) utilize the use value of all applicable real estate (i) devoted to agricultural use, horticultural use, forest use, and open-space use in each locality that has adopted an ordinance by which it provides for the use valuation and taxation of such real estate and (ii) used in agricultural and forestral production within an agricultural district, forestal district, agricultural and forestal district, or agricultural and forestal district of local significance in each locality that provides for the use valuation and taxation of such real estate, regardless of whether it has adopted a local land-use plan or local ordinance for such valuation and taxation. After much discussion and debate, the subcommittee recommended reporting on a 4-3 vote.

HB1581 (Watts) requires the Board of Education to include in its standards of learning and curriculum guidelines for family life education instruction the availability of advance directives, as set forth in the Health Care Decisions Act, related to mental health that permit an adult declarant to appoint an agent and authorize the agent to seek the hospitalization and evaluation of the declarant if the declarant shows signs of mental illness. The subcommittee recommended reporting 7-1.

HB1616 (Greason) requires career and technical education program course sequences to be aligned with national certification requirements, if such requirements exist for the sequence of courses. The Department of Education stated that this is the current practice of the department but it is not a code requirement. The subcommittee recommended reporting unanimously.


Update from the House Education Committee

This morning, the House Education Committee acted on many of the bills from Tuesday's House Education Reform subcommittee. 

HB1585 (Stolle) would allow a division superintendent, with the school board's approval, to establish a school schedule that wold provide for year-round school or, for any school that has not achieved full accreditation, to set the school start date.  The bill would also allow the superintendent to determine the schedule for the entire school division if more than 15% of the schools in the school division have not achieved full accreditation.  Among other things, this bill would allow superintendents and school boards to start the school year in schools not fully accredited prior to Labor Day without obtaining a waiver from the post-Labor Day start requirement.  This bill was reported 15-5 from the House Education Committee. 

HB1490 (Habeeb) was amended in the Education Reform subcommittee on Tuesday morning.  As amended, the bill directs the Board of Education to promulgate regulations to provide the same criteria for eligibility for an expedited retake of any Standards of Learning test, with the exception of the writing Standards of Learning tests, to each student regardless of grade level or course.  The bill also has an emergency clause, which means that, if enacted, the legislation would allow for expedited retakes this spring.  The committee approved reporting and referring the amended bill to Appropriations 20-0. 

HB1615 (Greason) would allow the required end-of-course or end-of-grade assessments for English, mathematics, science, and history and social science to be integrated to include multiple subject areas.  This bill would not, however, require the use of integrated assessments.  This bill was passed unanimously by the committee.

HB1674 (Greason) would reduce the frequency that a school's accreditation status is reviewed by the Board of Education.  The bill was amended in subcommittee to allow the Board of Education to review the accreditation status of schools every one, two, or three years, as determined by the Board of Education.  The amended bill would also require that a school that is not fully accredited be reviewed in the subsequent year.  The amended bill was reported by the full committee. 


HB2088 (Murphy) relating to graduation requirements for economics and personal finance was stricken from the docket at the request of the patron.

The committee will meet again on Monday morning.