Thursday, February 5, 2015

Final Senate Education and Health Committee update before Crossover

Several committees and subcommittees convened this today including the Senate Education and Health committee. Pat, Stacy and I split up to ensure coverage on all of the bills that VSBA is tracking. Below is a summary of actions from the Senate Education and Health committee.

SB998 (Stuart) required each local school division to establish a management plan for the implementation and compliance of its policies and procedures regarding the identification of suspected concussions in student-athletes. The bill was passed by indefinitely with the chairman of the committee sending a letter to the Commission on Youth to look at this issue.

SB1063 (Obenshain), relating to charter school personnel, was passed by indefinitely. This bill allowed public charter schools to designate in their application whether their employees would participate in VRS. Additionally, the bill required at least 75 percent of public charter elementary school teachers to be licensed and at least 50 percent of public charter middle and high school teachers to be licensed and specified that all teachers otherwise be "highly qualified," as defined by ESEA.

SB1286 (McDougle) was reported unanimously from the committee. The bill requires each local school division to publish the annual school budget in line item form on its website. Current law does not require the published budget to be in line item form.

SB1339 (Smith) allows the clerk of each school board to keep volumes of meeting minutes and receipt and disbursement records, vouchers, contracts, and other official papers electronically. The bill was reported unanimously from the committee.

SB1354 (Reeves) was reported unanimously with a substitute from the committee. The bill requires the Department of Education to establish a process and local school to identify newly enrolled student who have a parent in the uniformed services. This nonidentifiable, aggregate data will be made available to local, state, and federal entities for the purposes of enhancing funding and the quality of services provided to these uniformed services-connected students. This data will only be released as permitted under FERPA and will not be used for the purposes of student achievement, the Standards of Accreditation, student-growth indicators, the school performance report card, or any other school rating system.

SB1369 (Norment) creates the Virginia Science Technology Engineering and Applied Mathematics (STEAM) Academy as a private, nonprofit organization and a statewide, publicly accessible, special, residential high school and establishes the governing board of directors. Initially the bill required the school to receive the state and federal funds of the enrolled student along with the agreed-upon local share. Through the work of VSBA and several education stakeholder groups this language was removed from the bill. It now required the Virginia STEAM Academy with the Board of Education, Secretary of Education, and chairs of the eight regional superintendents study group to study various forms of funding available and submit a report back to the committee before November 1, 2015.  

SB1293 (Martin) removes the requirement to collect federal social security numbers from a public school or home school student (or their parent) and prohibits the Department of Education and local school boards from requiring a student (or their parent) to provide their federal social security number. The bill also requires the Department of Education to develop a system of unique student identification numbers and requires each local school board to assign such a number to each student enrolled in a public elementary or secondary school. The bill reported unanimously.

SB1386 (Vogel) was reported on an 11-3 vote and referred to the Senate Finance committee. This legislation requires every person seeking initial teacher licensure or renewal of a teaching license with an endorsement in elementary education to receive professional development training on the screening, intervention, accommodation, and use of technology for students with dyslexia. This evening the bill received unanimous support from the Senate Finance Committee.

We’ll be watching floor votes on these bills and many others for the next few days. Also, the House and Senate budgets will be released on Sunday afternoon. Check back later for the most up-to-date information from the General Assembly.