Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tuesday's Reform Subcommittee

The new Reform Subcommittee of the House Education Committee met again this morning. 

The subcommittee considered two bills dealing with OEI.  The first, HB 113 (Marshall), would have repealed last year's legislation creating OEI.  That bill was tabled by the subcommittee.  The subcommittee also considered HB 1091 (Garrett) which would remove OEI's authority to take over schools that are denied accreditation for three years.  Under this bill, only schools denied accreditation could be taken over by OEI.  Del. Garrett's bill was recommended to be reported and referred to Appropriations. 

The subcommittee also considered four bills dealing with virtual education.  HB 324 (Taylor) would have required a school division in which every school is fully accredited to make its online courses and virtual programs available to students attending schools that are not fully accredited.  The bill was tabled by the subcommittee.  HB 1086 (Bell) was amended and the substitute provides that when a student with a disability who lives in one school division enrolls in a full time virtual program offered by another a school division, the school division in which the student is enrolled must provide special education services to the student.  Under the current law, the school division in which the student resides is responsible for providing special education services despite the fact that the student is not even enrolled in that school division.  HB1086 was recommended for reporting. 

Two additional bills dealing with Virtual Virginia were also recommended for reporting.  HB 324 (Bell) would, among other things, establish the Board of the Virtual Virginia School and require that the School be open to any student in the Commonwealth.  The bill would result in federal, state, and local funds, up to $6,500 per pupil, being transferred from local school boards to the Virtual Virginia School.  VSBA opposes this legislation.  HB 1115 (Greason) also attempts to expand Virtual Virginia but does so by authorizing DOE to contract with local school boards that have developed virtual courses to make those virtual courses available to other school boards through Virtual Virginia.  Under this bill a school board can choose whether to make one or more of its virtual courses available and what per-pupil amount to charge for each course.  VSBA supports this legislation. 

Del. Hope's HB 1106 will require the Joint Commission on Health Care, in consultation with the Department of Education, to review restraint and seclusion in the Commonwealth and in other states and make recommendations for modernizing Virginia's policies to the General Assembly by the start of the 2015 session.  The bill was recommended for reporting.

Del. LeMunyon's HB 859 would have required BOE to develop and implement a policy to allow a student attending a school denied accreditation or accredited with warning for three years to attend another school in his own school division or in an adjacent school division upon request of the parent.  The bill was tabled by the subcommittee.

Finally, the subcommittee took up the SOL reform bills.  HB 365 (Head) requires that revisions to SOL assessments be finalized by December 31 of the year prior to the school year in which they will be implemented.  This bill was recommended for reporting by the subcommittee.  HB 172 (Farrell) requires the Board of Education to promulgate regulations to make the criteria for expedited retakes the same for all grade levels and courses.  This bill was recommended to be reported and referred to Appropriations.  HB 930 (Greason) was amended to incorporate the concepts of the remaining SOL reform bills.  HB 930 would reduce the number of SOL assessments administered in grades 3 through 8.  It also establishes an SOL Innovation Committee to provide recommendations on SOL assessments, student growth measures, and the School Performance Report Card.  HB 930 was recommended for reporting.