It was another busy day at the General Assembly with back to back committee and subcommittee meetings. Both meetings had very full dockets. I’ve included the highlights from the House Education committee and House Elementary and Secondary subcommittee meetings below. Check back tomorrow for updates from the Senate Education and Health committee and Senate Public Education subcommittee.
House Education committee
HB166 (Cole) requires that a local school division school division provide instruction in Braille or the use of Braille to visually impaired students unless the IEP or 504 team, after an evaluation by a certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI), determines that it is not appropriate to meet the student’s educational needs. The Committee voted to report and refer the bill to the Appropriations committee.
HB365 (Davis) establishes the Adaptive Learning Tools Grant Fund where the Department of Education awards grants on a competitive basis to local school divisions that demonstrate the effective use of adaptive learning tools. The bill was reported and referred to the Appropriations committee.
HB753 (Greason) is another school calendar bill similar to HB571 but does not require an extended break over the Labor Day weekend. This bill makes local school boards responsible for setting the school calendar and determining the opening date of the school year and eliminates the post-Labor Day opening requirement and "good cause" scenarios for which the Board of Education may grant waivers of this requirement. The bill was reported from the committee on a 16-6 vote.
HB353 (Greason) authorizes local school boards to enter into agreements with nonpublic schools to provide student transportation to and from school field trips. Current law authorizes such agreements for transportation to and from school. The bill was unanimously reported from the full committee.
HB196 (Lingamfelter) requires the Board of Education to adopt policies to ensure that the Department of Education does not require public elementary or secondary schools or local school divisions to provide certain duplicate information or certain information that is not necessary or required pursuant to state or federal law. It also requires the Board to permit public elementary and secondary schools and local school divisions to submit all information and forms to the Department electronically and annually evaluate and determine the continued need for the information that it collects from local school divisions. The bill was unanimously reported from the full committee.
HB571 (Robinson) makes local school boards responsible for setting the school calendar and determining the opening date of the school year and eliminates the post-Labor Day opening requirement and "good cause" scenarios for which the Board of Education may grant waivers of this requirement. However, the bill requires local school boards that set the school calendar with a pre-Labor Day opening date, except those schools that were granted a "good cause" waiver for the 2015-2016 school year, to close all schools in the division (i) from the Thursday immediately preceding Labor Day through Labor Day or (ii) from the Friday immediately preceding Labor Day through the Tuesday immediately succeeding Labor Day. The bill was reported from the committee on a 16-6 vote.
House Elementary and Secondary Education subcommittee
HB279 (Byron) directs the Board of Education to establish a Virginia STEM adjunct faculty provisional license and a Virginia STEM adjunct faculty renewable license for qualified individuals to teach high school science, technology, engineering, or mathematics courses on a part-time basis. The bill prescribes requirements for such licenses. HB279 was unanimously reported from the subcommittee.
HB306 (O’Quinn) permits local school boards to display advertising material on the sides and rear of school buses, provided that no such material obstructs the name of the school division or the number of the school bus or pertains to alcohol, gambling, or tobacco. After much discussion and concerns from stakeholder groups the bill was tabled by the subcommittee.
HB357 (Loupassi) requires at least 20 minutes of physical activity per day or an average of 100 minutes per week during the regular school year for students in grades kindergarten through five beginning with the 2018-2019 school year. The current requirement for a program of physical activity available to all students in grades six through twelve with a goal of at least 150 minutes per week remains unchanged. The subcommittee recommended reporting the bill on a 6-3 vote.
HB942 (Wilt) requires local school boards to provide reasonable access to school property to any youth group listed as a patriotic and national organization in 36 U.S.C. Subtitle II, Part B, such as the Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts of the United States of America, to provide written materials and speak to students at times other than instructional time during the school day to encourage such students to participate in the activities and programs provided by such organization. The bill was reported from the subcommittee on a 6-3 vote.
HB516 (Landes) requires the Board of Education to establish a policy to require each public elementary or secondary school to (i) notify the parent of any student whose teacher reasonably expects to provide instructional material that includes sexually explicit content, (ii) permit the parent of any student to review instructional material that includes sexually explicit content upon request, and (iii) provide, as an alternative to instructional material and related academic activities that include sexually explicit content, nonexplicit instructional material and related academic activities to any student whose parent so requests. The bill was unanimously reported from the subcommittee.
HB487 (McClellan) removes language in § 9.1-110. pertaining to school resource officers employed by the School Resource Officer Grants Program from the obligation to enforce school board rules and codes of student conduct as a condition of their employment. The subcommittee recommended reporting the bill on a 7-2 vote.