Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Highlights from the Education, Finance and Courts of Justice committees

This morning there were dueling meetings of the House Education committee and Senate Finance committee followed by the House Elementary and Secondary Education subcommittee. The VSBA team split our time between the two meetings to ensure we shared your positions and priorities.

The House Education committee took up several bills from yesterday’s Education Innovation subcommittee.

HB525 (LeMunyon) requires the SOL Innovation Committee to review and make recommendations to the Chairs of the House Education and Senate Education and Health committees on the number, subjects, and question compositions of standardized tests administered to public high school students in the Commonwealth by November 1, 2016. The bill was unanimously reported from the committee 21-0.

HB241 (Lingamfelter) directs the Board of Education to consider assessments aligned to the Standards of Learning that are structured and formatted in a way that measures the content knowledge of students who are English language learners and that may be administered to such students as Board of Education-approved alternatives to the SOL end-of-course English reading assessments. The bill was unanimously reported from the committee 21-0.

HB842 (Cline) requires every person seeking initial licensure or renewal of a license to receive professional development in the indicators of dyslexia and the scientific methods of teaching a student who is dyslexic. It also requires the Department of Education to collaborate with the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) to ensure that all teacher preparation programs offered at public higher education institutions in the Commonwealth convey information on the identification of students at risk for dyslexia and related disorders.

HB954 (Keam) requires each local school division’s policies and procedures regarding the identification and handling of suspected concussions in student-athletes to include a "Return to Learn Protocol" that requires school personnel to be alert to cognitive and academic issues that may be experienced by a student who has suffered a concussion or other head injury. The bill also broadens the scope of the "Return to Learn Protocol" in the Board of Education's guidelines for school division policies and procedures on concussions in student-athletes to require school personnel to (i) be alert to cognitive and academic issues that may be experienced by any student who has suffered a concussion or other head injury and (ii) accommodate the gradual return to full participation in academic activities of all students who has suffered a concussion or other head injury. Under current law, the "Return to Learn Protocol" only imposes such requirements on school personnel with respect to student-athletes.

In the Senate Finance committee it was anticipated that the statewide health insurance bills, SB384 (Vogel) and SB675 (Chafin) would be heard and voted on. However, the bills were taken by for the day as the patrons along with Delegates Jones and Kilgore and the Director of the Virginia Department of Human Resource Management work on an agreement between the House and Senate. We continue to strongly support this legislation which would give local school boards the option to join the state employee health plan and are appreciative of the efforts to reach a compromise.

The day was capped off with the House Courts of Justice Civil Law subcommittee where HB168 (LaRock) was on the docket. This bill allows a locality who has authorized the installation and operation of a video-monitoring system on school buses for recording violations of unlawfully passing a stopped school bus to execute a summons for these violations by mailing a copy of the summons to the owner of the vehicle. Current law requires that the summons be delivered by a law enforcement officer. HB168 was unanimously reported from the subcommittee and will now move on to the full House Courts committee. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

A busy Monday at the General Assembly

We started the day with the House Education committee where a handful of public education bills were on the docket. Below is a quick summary of the committee’s actions.

HB279 (Byron) directs the Board of Education to establish a Virginia career and technical education adjunct faculty provisional license and a Virginia STEM adjunct faculty renewable license for qualified individuals to teach high school career and technical education courses on a part-time basis. The bill prescribes requirements for such licenses. HB279 was unanimously reported from the committee with a substitute.
HB357 (Loupassi) requires at least 20 minutes of physical activity per day or an average of 100 minutes per week during the regular school year for students in grades kindergarten through five beginning with the 2018-2019 school year. The current requirement for a program of physical activity available to all students in grades six through twelve with a goal of at least 150 minutes per week remains unchanged. The committee recommended reporting the bill on an 18-4 vote.

HB942 (Wilt) requires local school boards to provide reasonable access to school property to any youth group listed as a patriotic and national organization in 36 U.S.C. Subtitle II, Part B, such as the Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts of the United States of America, to provide written materials and speak to students at times other than instructional time during the school day to encourage such students to participate in the activities and programs provided by such organization. The bill was reported from the subcommittee on a 16-6 vote.

HB516 (Landes) requires the Board of Education to establish a policy to require each public elementary or secondary school to (i) notify the parent of any student whose teacher reasonably expects to provide instructional material that includes sexually explicit content, (ii) permit the parent of any student to review instructional material that includes sexually explicit content upon request, and (iii) provide, as an alternative to instructional material and related academic activities that include sexually explicit content, nonexplicit instructional material and related academic activities to any student whose parent so requests. The bill was unanimously reported from the committee.

HB487 (McClellan) removes language in § 9.1-110. pertaining to school resource officers employed by the School Resource Officer Grants Program from the obligation to enforce school board rules and codes of student conduct as a condition of their employment. The committee reported the bill on a 20-2 vote.

After the committee meeting the education team was diligently meeting with legislators to share VSBA's opposition to the charter school constitutional amendment. On the House side, it is anticipated that the constitutional amendment will be on the floor tomorrow for a vote. In the Senate, the constitutional amendment will be taken up tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday) in the Privileges and Elections committee at 4:00p.m. If you have not reached out to your legislators yet we would encourage you to do so.

The afternoon was busy with several committee meetings and legislators meetings for bills coming up later in the week.

In Senate General Laws, SB500 (Sturtevant) was heard by the committee. The bill requires every locality and school division to post on the public government website of the locality a register of all funds expended, showing vendor name, date of payment, amount, and a description of the type of expense, including credit card purchases with the same information. The bill also provides for the Commonwealth Data Point website administered by the Auditor of Public Accounts to include the same information for each state agency and institution, including each independent agency. Currently, the website includes such information for major state agencies. The bill will not be moving forward as it was passed by indefinitely on an 11-4 vote.

On the House side, the Courts Civil Law subcommittee was scheduled to hear HB168 (LaRock). However the bill was taken by for the day and will be heard on Wednesday. The bill allows a locality that has authorized the installation and operation of a video-monitoring system on school buses for recording violations of unlawfully passing a stopped school bus to execute a summons for such violation by mailing a copy of the summons to the owner of a vehicle that unlawfully passed a stopped school bus.

Thank you for your continued advocacy on behalf your board and VSBA. Check back tomorrow for more updates from Richmond! 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

VSBA ACTION ALERT
CHARTER SCHOOL CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
Call Your House of Delegates Members 

Thank you for your continued efforts opposing the charter school constitutional amendment, which divests local school boards of the sole authority to approve charter schools. The VSBA lobbying team has been diligently working to share our opposition to this legislation but WE NEED YOUR HELP! 

This morning the House Privileges and Elections committee narrowly passed, on a 10-9 vote, the charter school constitutional amendment (HJ1) and accompanying legislation (HB3). This very close vote is a testament to your advocacy efforts and we need your help again! Now the amendment and legislation will be going to the floor of the House for a vote. By Tuesday morning, please CALL YOUR DELEGATES and ask them to vote NO on the charter school constitutional amendment (HJ1) and accompanying legislation (HB3). Please utilize the attached VSBA talking points and share with your legislators that VSBA does support high-quality charter schools, as defined by local school boards, not an unelected Board of Education.

Thank you again for your continued support of VSBA. Your voice makes a difference in Richmond. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Quick Update from the Senate Education and Health Committee

This morning the Senate Education and Health committee convened for their weekly meeting. The docket was lengthy but only contained a few education related bills. Below is a summary of the bills and committee action. Check back tomorrow for the weekly round-up from Richmond.  

SB368 (McDougle) authorizes the Board of Education to review the accreditation status of a school once every two years or every three years and requires any school that receives a multiyear accreditation status other than full accreditation to be covered by a Board approved multiyear corrective action plan for the duration of the period of accreditation. The bill also provides that when the Board of Education determines a corrective action plan submitted by a local school board is not sufficient to enable all schools within the division to achieve full accreditation, the Board may return the plan to the local school board with directions to submit an amended plan pursuant to Board guidance. The bill was unanimously reported, with amendments, from the committee.

SB612 (Garrett) is identical to HB131. This legislation prohibits school divisions from joining an athletic/interscholastic organization that doesn’t allow home school students to participate in public schools athletics or interscholastic activities. It allows students to be charged reasonable fees for participation. It also states that eligibility of a student receiving home instruction shall be limited to participation the school serving the attendance zone in which the student lives and will be subject to policies governing participation that the local school board may establish. As with previous years the bill was reported from the committee on an 8-7 vote.

SB665 (Marsden) prohibits a middle school student from participating on or trying out for any school athletic team or squad with a predetermined roster, regular practices, and scheduled competitions with other middle schools unless such student has submitted to the school principal a signed report from a licensed physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant acting under the supervision of a licensed physician attesting that such student has been examined and found to be physically fit for athletic competition. The bill was unanimously reported with an amendment from the committee and is a recommendation of the Youth Commission on Youth.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Highlights from the House Education Committee and House ESE Subcommittee

It was another busy day at the General Assembly with back to back committee and subcommittee meetings. Both meetings had very full dockets. I’ve included the highlights from the House Education committee and House Elementary and Secondary subcommittee meetings below. Check back tomorrow for updates from the Senate Education and Health committee and Senate Public Education subcommittee. 

House Education committee

HB166 (Cole) requires that a local school division school division provide instruction in Braille or the use of Braille to visually impaired students unless the IEP or 504 team, after an evaluation by a certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI), determines that it is not appropriate to meet the student’s educational needs. The Committee voted to report and refer the bill to the Appropriations committee.

HB365 (Davis) establishes the Adaptive Learning Tools Grant Fund where the Department of Education awards grants on a competitive basis to local school divisions that demonstrate the effective use of adaptive learning tools. The bill was reported and referred to the Appropriations committee.

HB753
 (Greason) is another school calendar bill similar to HB571 but does not require an extended break over the Labor Day weekend. This bill makes local school boards responsible for setting the school calendar and determining the opening date of the school year and eliminates the post-Labor Day opening requirement and "good cause" scenarios for which the Board of Education may grant waivers of this requirement. The bill was reported from the committee on a 16-6 vote.

HB353 (Greason) authorizes local school boards to enter into agreements with nonpublic schools to provide student transportation to and from school field trips. Current law authorizes such agreements for transportation to and from school. The bill was unanimously reported from the full committee.

HB196 (Lingamfelter) requires the Board of Education to adopt policies to ensure that the Department of Education does not require public elementary or secondary schools or local school divisions to provide certain duplicate information or certain information that is not necessary or required pursuant to state or federal law. It also requires the Board to permit public elementary and secondary schools and local school divisions to submit all information and forms to the Department electronically and annually evaluate and determine the continued need for the information that it collects from local school divisions. The bill was unanimously reported from the full committee.

HB571 (Robinson) makes local school boards responsible for setting the school calendar and determining the opening date of the school year and eliminates the post-Labor Day opening requirement and "good cause" scenarios for which the Board of Education may grant waivers of this requirement. However, the bill requires local school boards that set the school calendar with a pre-Labor Day opening date, except those schools that were granted a "good cause" waiver for the 2015-2016 school year, to close all schools in the division (i) from the Thursday immediately preceding Labor Day through Labor Day or (ii) from the Friday immediately preceding Labor Day through the Tuesday immediately succeeding Labor Day. The bill was reported from the committee on a 16-6 vote.

House Elementary and Secondary Education subcommittee

HB279 (Byron) directs the Board of Education to establish a Virginia STEM adjunct faculty provisional license and a Virginia STEM adjunct faculty renewable license for qualified individuals to teach high school science, technology, engineering, or mathematics courses on a part-time basis. The bill prescribes requirements for such licenses. HB279 was unanimously reported from the subcommittee.

HB306 (O’Quinn) permits local school boards to display advertising material on the sides and rear of school buses, provided that no such material obstructs the name of the school division or the number of the school bus or pertains to alcohol, gambling, or tobacco. After much discussion and concerns from stakeholder groups the bill was tabled by the subcommittee.

HB357 (Loupassi) requires at least 20 minutes of physical activity per day or an average of 100 minutes per week during the regular school year for students in grades kindergarten through five beginning with the 2018-2019 school year. The current requirement for a program of physical activity available to all students in grades six through twelve with a goal of at least 150 minutes per week remains unchanged. The subcommittee recommended reporting the bill on a 6-3 vote.

HB942 (Wilt) requires local school boards to provide reasonable access to school property to any youth group listed as a patriotic and national organization in 36 U.S.C. Subtitle II, Part B, such as the Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts of the United States of America, to provide written materials and speak to students at times other than instructional time during the school day to encourage such students to participate in the activities and programs provided by such organization. The bill was reported from the subcommittee on a 6-3 vote.

HB516 (Landes) requires the Board of Education to establish a policy to require each public elementary or secondary school to (i) notify the parent of any student whose teacher reasonably expects to provide instructional material that includes sexually explicit content, (ii) permit the parent of any student to review instructional material that includes sexually explicit content upon request, and (iii) provide, as an alternative to instructional material and related academic activities that include sexually explicit content, nonexplicit instructional material and related academic activities to any student whose parent so requests. The bill was unanimously reported from the subcommittee.

HB487 (McClellan) removes language in § 9.1-110. pertaining to school resource officers employed by the School Resource Officer Grants Program from the obligation to enforce school board rules and codes of student conduct as a condition of their employment. The subcommittee recommended reporting the bill on a 7-2 vote.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tuesday Update from the General Assembly

The House Education subcommittee on education innovation met this morning to consider a series of bills including the school calendar legislation. While there were several bills before the committee a few were taken by for the day to work on bill language. Below is a report on the bills and actions of the subcommittee. Those bills that passed the subcommittee will be considered in the full committee on Wednesday.

HB265 (Davis) provides that if the amount appropriated to the local school board by the local governing body for public schools relates to its total only, the per pupil funding provided to a public charter school by the local school board shall also relate to its total only, unless otherwise negotiated in the charter agreement. Some legislators expressed concern about the real need for this legislation thus the bill was laid on the table and will not be moving forward.

HB365 (Davis) establishes the Adaptive Learning Tools Grant Fund where the Department of Education awards grants on a competitive basis to local school divisions that demonstrate the effective use of adaptive learning tools. The bill was reported and referred to the Appropriations committee.

HB571 (Robinson) makes local school boards responsible for setting the school calendar and determining the opening date of the school year and eliminates the post-Labor Day opening requirement and "good cause" scenarios for which the Board of Education may grant waivers of this requirement. However, the bill requires local school boards that set the school calendar with a pre-Labor Day opening date, except those schools that were granted a "good cause" waiver for the 2015-2016 school year, to close all schools in the division (i) from the Thursday immediately preceding Labor Day through Labor Day or (ii) from the Friday immediately preceding Labor Day through the Tuesday immediately succeeding Labor Day. The bill was reported from the subcommittee on a 7-2 vote.

HB753 (Greason) is another school calendar bill similar to HB571 but does not require an extended break over the Labor Day weekend. This bill makes local school boards responsible for setting the school calendar and determining the opening date of the school year and eliminates the post-Labor Day opening requirement and "good cause" scenarios for which the Board of Education may grant waivers of this requirement. Delegates Kory and Adams had identical bills which were rolled into HB753. The bill was reported from the subcommittee on a 7-2 vote.

HB894 (Greason) makes tweaks to the membership of the SOL Innovation Committee to include at least one representative from a four-year public institution of higher education, one representative from a two-year public institution of higher education, and specifies that the business representative(s) on the Committee shall represent the business community. The bill also staggers the terms of the legislative and nonlegislative citizen members. The bill was unanimously reported from the subcommittee.

HB1165 (Dudenhefer) requires the Department of Education to establish a system and procedure, consistent with secure mandatory testing requirements, by which teachers may electronically submit evidence and student evidence identification tags for each completed Virginia Grade Level Alternative assessment. After discussion by the members and some concerns about the cost to implement the legislation, the bill was laid on the table by the subcommittee and will not be moving forward.

In addition to the subcommittee meeting the House Republicans outlined their “Opportunities in Education” agenda. Much of their agenda focuses on school choice including the charter schools constitutional amendment, the Parental Choice Education Savings Account legislation, expanding tax-credits, and the establishment of the Virginia Virtual School, a full-time virtual school. Also included in their agenda are bill relating to early childhood education and the home school sports legislation. You can read the full press release from this morning’s announcement here.

Finally, Dr. Steve Staples, State Superintendent of Public Instruction presented to the House Appropriations Elementary and Secondary Education subcommittee. He gave a great presentation on the many successes and challenges facing our schools. You can access his presentation here.

Monday, January 25, 2016

A Quiet Day around the General Assembly Building

We hope everyone has been able to dig out from the aftermath of Winter Storm Jonas. As you may have heard, the General Assembly called a rare snow day on Friday and had a delayed opening today with all morning committee meetings cancelled. The House and Senate did go into session at noon today but there were several empty seats around the chamber. This morning’s delayed opening impacted the House Education Committee meeting which was cancelled. Your VSBA lobbying team took advantage of the quiet day and met with several legislators to discuss their bills. The regular schedule will fully resume tomorrow with the House Education Subcommittee on Education Innovation meeting at 7:30a.m. Check back tomorrow for a report on the subcommittee’s actions.