Wednesday, January 20, 2016

House Education Committee update

This morning the House Education Committee met to consider four bills including two from yesterday’s Education Innovation subcommittee meeting and two bills that have been before the committee several times over the past few years. As expected, all of the bills were reported from the committee with HB8 and HB389 being referred to the House Appropriations Committee. Below is a report on the bills and actions of the full committee. 

HB 8 (D. Bell) establishes the Virginia Virtual Schools, a full-time virtual school governed by the Board of the Virginia Virtual School. The bill requires the School to be open to any school-age person in the Commonwealth and provide an educational program meeting the Standards of Quality for grades kindergarten through 12. It also requires the average state share of Standards of Quality per pupil funding for each enrolled student to be transferred to the School. HB8 was reported and referred to the House Appropriations Committee on a 14-7 vote.

HB389 (LaRock)
 allows a parent of any student to apply to the residing school division for a one-year, renewable Parental Choice Education Savings Account that consists of 90 percent of the SOQ per pupil state funds in which the student resides. The bill also permits the parent to use the Savings Account funds for education-related expenses of the student, including tuition, deposits, fees, and required textbooks at a private, sectarian, or nonsectarian elementary or secondary school or preschool that is located in the Commonwealth and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national origin. The bill also allows the parent to put up to $2,000 in a college fund.  HB389 was reported and referred to the House Appropriations Committee on a 13-9 vote.

HB259 (LaRock) prohibits the Board of Education from implementing the Common Core State Standards without prior approval of the General Assembly but permits the Board of Education to continue or create an educational standard or assessment that coincidentally is included in the Common Core State Standards. The bill was reported from the full committee on a 20-2 vote.

HB131 (R. Bell) prohibits school divisions from joining an athletic/interscholastic organization that doesn’t allow home school students to participate in public schools athletics or interscholastic activities. It allows students to be charged reasonable fees for participation. The bill also states that eligibility of a student receiving home instruction shall be limited to participation the school serving the attendance zone in which the student lives and will be subject to policies governing participation that the local school board may establish. The bill was reported from the committee on a 14-8 vote.