Monday, February 16, 2015

Monday's Legislative Highlights

Several VSBA Regional Chairs and Vice-Chairs traveled to Richmond today to advocate on behalf of their regions and VSBA. The VSBA members attended the House Education committee meeting, the Senate Public Education subcommittee meeting, met with their legislators, and watched the floor session of the Senate. It was another successful day for #VSBAadvocacy at the General Assembly. Thank you to those members who traveled near and far to participate in the political process. Your direct advocacy had an impact on the decisions our legislators made today!

VSBA Regional Chairs and Vice-Chairs watch the floor session of the Virginia Senate from the gallery. 

In House Education they took up a handful of bills that were in the Elementary and Secondary subcommittee last week. Below are the actions the full committee took on those bills.

SB805 (Stanley) establishes a grant program administered by the Board of Education for donations made by STEM organizations to qualified schools. The donations must be used by qualified schools to support STEM programs. The bill defines qualified schools as those public elementary and secondary schools at which at least 40 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch. Grants are capped at $50,000 per organization per year. The bill was reported and referred to the Appropriations Committee as the provisions of the bill are contingent on funding in a 2015 general appropriation act.

SB1021 (Puller) was unanimously reported. This bill allows the Board of Education to grant a waiver to a school division that is unable to meet the required 990 instructional hours in a school year because of severe weather conditions or other emergency situations.

SB1236 (Favola) was unanimously reported. This bill eliminates the term "special diploma" and specifies that students identified as disabled, who complete the requirements of their individualized education programs and meet certain requirements prescribed by the Board pursuant to regulations but do not meet the requirements for any named diploma, shall be awarded Applied Studies diplomas by local school boards.

 SB1293 (Martin) prohibits school boards and the DOE from requiring the disclosure of student's social security numbers of newly enrolled students. The bill also requires the Department to instead 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 was reported unanimously from the full committee.

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 with a substitute. This bill requires DOE to establish a process for school boards to identify students who have a parent in the military. Non-identifiable, aggregate data collected will be made available to local, state, and federal entities for the purposes of eligibility for federal grant funding.

SB1386 (Vogel) 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 bill was reported and referred to the Appropriations Committee.

On the Senate floor today the Home School Sports bill, HB1626 (R. Bell), was scheduled for a final vote. Instead of a vote the bill was taken by for the day. That means it could be brought up for a final vote at any time. We encourage you to continue to contact your Senators to express opposition to the bill. However, HB1490 (Habeeb) and HB2114 (D. Bell) both passed the Senate this afternoon. HB1490 directs the Board of Education to promulgate regulations to provide the same criteria for eligibility for an expedited retake of any Standards of Learning test, with the exception of the writing Standards of Learning tests, to each student regardless of grade level or course. HB2114 requires the regulations setting nutritional guidelines for competitive foods permit each public school to conduct no more than 30 school sponsored fundraisers per school year on school grounds during regular school hours, during which food that does not meet the nutrition guidelines for competitive foods may be sold to students.

Check back tomorrow for additional updates from a very snowy General Assembly.