Monday, February 24, 2014

Monday's House Education Committee Update

Much of the legislative work of the General Assembly is starting to wind down while work on the budget is ramping up. The House Education committee met this morning for one of its final meetings of the session. : 

SB2 (Marsden) requires all textbooks approved by the Board of Education after July 1, 2014, to note that the Sea of Japan is also referred to as the East Sea. At the request of the patron, the bill went by for the day. It will be taken up for a vote on Wednesday.

SB107 (Stanley) was reported and referred to the Appropriations committee. This bill establishes a STEM grant program. The donations must be used by the qualified schools to support STEM programs. Qualified schools are public elementary and secondary schools where at least 40 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch. Grants are capped at $50,000 per organization per year.

SB168 (Stanley) was reported and referred to the Appropriations committee. This bill provides a grant of $5,000 to new and experienced teachers who relocate to either a school where at least 40 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch or to a school in a locality with a population of 50,000 or less.

SB672 (Favola) allows the Board of the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind (VSDB) to create criteria and procedures for all out-of-state students to attend VSDB. There will be a tuition charged to these out-of-state students.  This bill was unanimously reported and referred to the Appropriations committee.

SB153 (Stuart) was reported and referred to the Appropriations committee. This bill only impacts Planning District 16 that includes Stafford, Fredericksburg, Caroline, King George and Spotsylvania. It expands eligibility for services through the Comprehensive Services for At-Risk Youth and Families program to students who transfer from an approved private school special education program to a public school special education program for the purpose of providing special education and related services when the public school special educational program is able to provide services comparable to those of an approved private school special educational program.      

SB562 (Locke) was reported unanimously from the full committee. This bill allows the school board that partners with a college partnership laboratory school to charge tuition to students enrolled in the college partnership laboratory school who do not reside within the partnering division.  

SB236 (Carrico) is a very problematic bill for VSBA. It requires that each school division adopt a policy that creates a limited public forum at any school event at which a student is permitted to speak and provides that the limited public forum does not discriminate or regulate against a student’s voluntary expression of religious viewpoint. Additionally, students may organize prayer groups or religious groups before, during or after school and shall have the same access to school facilities as other student-organized groups. If this bill passes, we believe that a constitutional challenge against a school board implementing the legislation is extremely likely. VSBA has offered amendments to the legislation that would authorize the Attorney General to advise and defend school boards implementing the legislation. This proposed amendments have been rejected by the patron. The bill, without the amendment proposed by VSBA, passed the Senate 20-18 prior to its reorganization. After much discussion from both sides, the bill reported from House Education on a close 12-10 vote. We will continue to work this bill in hopes of defeating it on the floor. As reported in the Washington Post, the governor has indicted that he would veto the bill if it passed both Houses.