Friday, January 22, 2016

Senate Education and Health Committee Update

Yesterday morning the Senate Education and Health committee held their first meeting of the session where they considered legislation. Much of the agenda focused on health legislation but there were a few education-related bills as well as a presentation from Dr. Stewart Roberson, Chair of the SOL Innovation Committee. Additionally, Senator Steve Newman, chair of the committee, announced the members of the Senate Public Education subcommittee. Senator Bill Carrico will serve as the chair the subcommittee along with Senators Janet Howell, Mamie Locke, Tom Garrett and Siobhan Dunnavant. Below is a report on the bills and actions of the full committee. 

SB17 (Stanley) establishes the STEM Education Fund to be administered by the Board of Education for the purposes of providing grants for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education programs in qualified schools. Beginning in 2017, a STEM organization that provides funds to a qualified school (a public elementary and secondary schools at which at least 40 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch) for use in STEM programs may apply for a grant, up to 50,000 for organization per year, from the Fund. This bill was reported and referred to the Finance committee.

SB211 (Miller) 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. This bill was reported from the committee on a 10-4 vote.

SB246 (Stanley) establishes a grant program, beginning in 2017, to establish STEM competition teams at qualified schools. The bill defines a qualified school as a public secondary school where at least 40 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch. Grants are capped at $10,000 per school per year. This bill was reported and referred to the Finance committee.

SB250 (Black) allows 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. This bill incorporates SB275 and was unanimously reported from the committee.

SB360 (Howell) requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction to develop and implement a system to track teacher turnover and to annually report the findings to the Governor and General Assembly. The bill was unanimously reported from the committee.

SB573 (Ruff) directs the Board of Education to allow the issuance of temporary part-time teacher permits to qualified professionals with expertise and credentials in career and technical education areas who are recommended for the permit by employing school divisions. Part-time teacher permits may be issues to individuals who meet criteria established by the Board and may be extended upon the request of the employing school division. The bill was unanimously reported from the committee.