Wednesday, January 28, 2015

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.