Monday, January 31, 2011

Updates from Monday at the GA

There is a lot going on at the GA as we approach cross-over next week.  Here is a quick look at what happened on Monday:

Del. Dickie Bell’s bill (HB 1435) to require school boards and Virginia colleges and universities to give foreign language credit for American Sign Language courses was reported out of the House Committee on Education on an 18 to 1 vote. 

Del. Cleaveland’s school opening bill (HB 1483), which permits a waiver to the post-Labor Day opening requirement for a school division that is completely surrounded by school divisions that open prior to Labor Day, was reported by the House Education Committee on a vote of 13 to 8.

HB 1493 (Del. Greason) mandates that the Board of Education require that every career and technical education program for which there is a national or industry certification (automotive, culinary, and printing) be certified.  The bill was amended in committee to make the effective date July 1, 2012.  According to testimony from the bill’s supporters, only about 40 of the approximately 120 automotive CTE programs in the state currently carry the industry certification.  While we applaud those programs that obtain national or industry certification, we fear that the requirement imposed by this bill, particularly in the current budget climate, will lead to the closing of many CTE programs.  The bill was reported by the House Education Committee.

Del. Kory’s HB 1548, which, as amended, requires school principals to notify a student’s parents of policy violations that are likely to lead to a suspension, was reported  by the House Education Committee.

SB 810 (Sen. Obenshain) would delay the implementation of certain Standards of Accreditation.  We supported this bill as originally drafted.  The patron offered an amendment which exempted the implementation of financial responsibility (so that the SOAs related to financial literacy would have to be implemented beginning July 1, 2011).  The Public Education Subcommittee of the Senate Education and Health Committee adopted the proposed amendment.  We, along with many others, expressed our opposition to this amendment.  While we believe that the financial literacy curriculum is important, we cannot support the implementation of this curriculum until the necessary funding is available.  The subcommittee reversed its decision on the amendment and the recommended the bill as it was originally drafted for reporting. 

Sen. Barker introduced a bill (SB 1031) to allow school boards to carry over unexpended funds from one fiscal  year to the next.  This bill was opposed by VACO.  We, along with VASS, VEA, and others, supported this bill.  The bill was recommended for reporting by the subcommittee.