Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Final House Education Committee

Today’s meeting was the final committee meeting of the 2016 session. They took up two bills, both of particular interest to VSBA. Below is a summary of the bills and the committee’s action.

SB740 (Surovell) prohibits school boards requiring the use of any electronic textbook in any course in grades six through 12 unless the school board adopts a plan to ensure that by July 1, 2019, each student enrolled in such course will have actual access at school and in their residence to at least one personal computing device not shared with another student that contains an operating system and hardware necessary to support the format of each electronic textbook expected to be used in such course, and the relevant schools will be equipped with the fiber optic or wireless broadband connections necessary to provide adequate connectivity. The bill defines adequate connectivity as fiber optic or other technology that is capable of delivering bandwidth of at least one megabit per second per enrolled student. There was extensive discussion on this legislation in yesterday’s subcommittee where VSBA expressed concerns. In today’s committee meeting the bill was passed by indefinitely and will not be moving forward.

SB734 (Obenshain) makes several changes to the provisions for the establishment and operation of public charter schools, including making changes and providing greater specificity regarding (i) the applicability of various laws, regulations, policies, and procedures to public charter schools; (ii) the contents of charter applications; and (iii) the procedure for executing charter contracts and the contents of such contracts. The full committee recommended reporting the bill on a 16-6 vote.