The House Education subcommittee on education innovation met this morning to consider a series of bills including the school calendar legislation. While there were several bills before the committee a few were taken by for the day to work on bill language. Below is a report on the bills and actions of the subcommittee. Those bills that passed the subcommittee will be considered in the full committee on Wednesday.
HB265 (Davis) provides that if the amount appropriated to the local school board by the local governing body for public schools relates to its total only, the per pupil funding provided to a public charter school by the local school board shall also relate to its total only, unless otherwise negotiated in the charter agreement. Some legislators expressed concern about the real need for this legislation thus the bill was laid on the table and will not be moving forward.
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.
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 subcommittee on a 7-2 vote.
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. Delegates Kory and Adams had identical bills which were rolled into HB753. The bill was reported from the subcommittee on a 7-2 vote.
HB894 (Greason) makes tweaks to the membership of the SOL Innovation Committee to include at least one representative from a four-year public institution of higher education, one representative from a two-year public institution of higher education, and specifies that the business representative(s) on the Committee shall represent the business community. The bill also staggers the terms of the legislative and nonlegislative citizen members. The bill was unanimously reported from the subcommittee.
HB1165 (Dudenhefer) requires the Department of Education to establish a system and procedure, consistent with secure mandatory testing requirements, by which teachers may electronically submit evidence and student evidence identification tags for each completed Virginia Grade Level Alternative assessment. After discussion by the members and some concerns about the cost to implement the legislation, the bill was laid on the table by the subcommittee and will not be moving forward.
In addition to the subcommittee meeting the House Republicans outlined their “Opportunities in Education” agenda. Much of their agenda focuses on school choice including the charter schools constitutional amendment, the Parental Choice Education Savings Account legislation, expanding tax-credits, and the establishment of the Virginia Virtual School, a full-time virtual school. Also included in their agenda are bill relating to early childhood education and the home school sports legislation. You can read the full press release from this morning’s announcement here.
Finally, Dr. Steve Staples, State Superintendent of Public Instruction presented to the House Appropriations Elementary and Secondary Education subcommittee. He gave a great presentation on the many successes and challenges facing our schools. You can access his presentation here.