Tuesday, June 7, 2022

2022-2024 Budget Overview

An Overview of the 2022-2024 Biennial Budget

The 2022-2024 Biennial Budget was adopted by the general assembly on June 1, 2022 after a lengthy period of negotiations between Senate and House budget writers. The following list of budget items contains amendments of interest to K-12 education and is not a complete list of items found in the final conference report. To review the final conference report, click here.

Governor Youngking will have the ability to amend items in the budget with approval by the General Assembly. VSBA will continue to provide updates on the budget process.

Legislative Department: 

Item 1 #2c- This amendment provides funding for member compensation and meeting expenses associated with the establishment of the School Health Services Committee, pursuant to Chapter 707, 2022 Acts of Assembly. 

Item 6 #4c- This amendment provides funding to study the Commonwealth's response and preparedness to the COVID-19 pandemic, consistent with Senate Joint Resolution 10 of the 2022 General Assembly. 

Item 33 #1c- This amendment directs the Behavioral Health Commission to conduct a study of how to maximize school-based mental health services across the Commonwealth. 

Item 36 #4c- This amendment directs JLARC to review the cost of competing adjustment (COCA) in their review of SOQ standards and funding. 

Office of Education: 

Item 129#1c- This amendment permits the Department of Education to use funds reserved by the agency from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund for the establishment of a system to assess student growth with a focus on learning loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Each school division in the Commonwealth shall implement the system and make reports from the system available to educators to allow them to address learning for their students. 

Item 129 #2c- This amendment provides $200,000 the first year from the general fund to study options for expanding student access to Academic Year Governor's Schools. 

Item 129 #3c- This amendment directs the Department of Education to collaborate with the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth to implement educational requirements related to the harms of marijuana and substance abuse as required by legislation passed in 2021. A companion amendment in Item 482 directs the Foundation to provide or develop the necessary educational resources. 

Item 129 #6c- This amendment provides $4.8 million the first year and $4.6 million the second year from the general fund to support implementation of the Virginia Literacy Act, and to prepare for the implementation of science-based literacy instruction beginning in fiscal year 2025. In addition, this amendment directs the University of Virginia's Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning to create a technical support center to support implementation of the bill and directs the Board of Education to initiate its textbook review process to assist school divisions to obtain materials required by the act. 

Item 129 #7c- This amendment provides $650,000 the first year and $875,000 the second year from the general fund to support development of a pilot school readiness assessment for grades 1-3. The existing Virginia Kindergarten Readiness Assessment is currently designed only to be administered to preschoolers and kindergartners. 

Item 130 #1c- This amendment provides $170,520 from the general fund the first year and $48,760 from the general fund the second year to support language development resources for families and educators working with children who are deaf or hard of hearing, as required by Chapters 238 and 240, 2022 Acts of Assembly. 

Item 130 #2c- This amendment provides $100,000 each year from the general fund to increase support for statewide training programs for school division staff to implement regulations related to the use of restraint and seclusion of students in public schools. This would increase total support for such training to $592,755 annually. 

Item 130 #3c- This amendment removes $221,514 each year from the general fund and one position that was proposed in the introduced budget to support social emotional learning efforts.

Item 135 #1c- This amendment provides $132,932 from the general fund each year for the Department of Education to collect data from school divisions on the maintenance reserve needs of every public school building in each local school division, as required by Chapter 650, 2022 Acts of Assembly. 

Item 135 #2c- This amendment clarifies that the "Accreditation Waived" status provided to schools in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years do not apply toward the three years of "Accredited" status required for a school to become eligible for triennial accreditation. 

Item 135 #3c- This amendment provides $130,000 each year from the general fund and one FTE at the Department of Education to assist with administering school construction grant guidelines, funding, and reporting. 

Item 136 #23c- This amendment defers $1.1 million each year from the general fund that was proposed in the introduced budget to implement a new grow-your-own licensed early childhood educator program. 

Item 137 #2c- This amendment provides $400.0 million from the general fund for the School Construction Grant Program. Language allows local school divisions to use the School Construction Grants Program funds, as introduced, for debt service payments on school projects that have been completed or initiated during the last ten years and clarifies that funds shall not be used for repair or replacement of parking lot or for facilities that are predominantly used for extracurricular athletic activities. Additionally, language clarifies that any unexpended funds shall be carried on the books of the locality in local escrow accounts pursuant to § 22.1-175.5. 

Item 137 #3c- This amendment provides clarification that the calculation of required local effort for Infrastructure and Operations Funds shall include local funds used for nonrecurring expenses; clarifies that these funds may be used to pay for debt service on projects that have been initiated but not yet completed; and requires unexpended funds to be deposited into a local capital school projects escrow fund. 

Item 137 #4c- This amendment maintains the current English learner (EL) teacher ratio of 20 such teachers per 1,000 identified EL students. The introduced budget proposed increasing the staffing standard to 22 EL teachers per 1,000 EL students, for an additional $10.3 million the first year and $11.7 million the second year from the general fund.

Item 137 #5c- This amendment provides $10.0 million the first year from the general fund and $10.2 million the second year from the general fund for the state share of one full-time school principal position for each elementary school. Current law provides that elementary schools with fewer than 300 students are provided a half-time principal position. 

Item 137 #6c- This amendment eliminates the Reading Recovery intervention program as a permissible use of At-Risk Add-On Funds to align with Chapter 61, 2022 Acts of Assembly. 

Item 137 #9c- This amendment captures $123.2 million in general fund savings the first year by increasing the At-Risk Add-On maximum add-on percentages from 26.0% to 36.0% beginning in fiscal year 2023. The introduced budget proposed establishing the maximum add-on at 49.5% in fiscal year 2023 and 36.0% in fiscal year 2024. 

Item 137 #10c- This amendment provides $109.4 million from the general fund the first year and $162.3 million from the general fund the second year to increase the number of funded support positions. Since fiscal year 2010, funded support positions have been calculated as a linear weighted average of support positions to funded SOQ instructional positions as reported by divisions. This would increase the funded ratio from 17.75 support positions per 1,000 students to funded SOQ instructional positions to 20 support positions per 1,000 ADM to funded SOQ instructional positions in the first year, and 21 support positions per 1,000 ADM to funded SOQ instructional positions in the second year. This increases state support for support positions and partially removes the funding cap placed on support positions beginning in fiscal year 2010. 

Item 137 #12c- This amendment provides $104.1 million from the general fund the first year and $257.2 million from the general fund the second for the equivalent distribution of the 1% sales tax revenue from food and essential personal hygiene products. These payments are distributed to localities based on the estimate of school age population consistent with sales tax. The funding for this amendment is fully contained within the introduced budget since the introduced budget contained a hold harmless payment for the loss in dedicated K-12 sales tax from exempting food after the Basic Aid offset and contained the entire distribution of sales tax from essential personal hygiene products. The reductions reflected in this amendment are related to rounding variances when distributing these payments based on school age population and then calculating the Basic Aid state and local shares of cost based on the local composite index. 

Item 137 #13c- This amendment provides that the 5% salary increase in the first year is effective on August 1, 2022 and reduces the compensation supplement funding to reflect this action. It additionally clarifies that local school divisions must use revenues derived from local sources to match the state share of funding for the compensation supplement. 

Item 137 #15c- This amendment provides $400.0 million the first year from the general fund and $50.0 million the first year from the Literary Fund to establish the School Construction Assistance Program, to provide competitive grants for school construction and modernization, based on demonstrated poor building conditions, commitment, and need. Grants would cover 10% to 30% of reasonable project costs, depending on a locality’s local composite index and fiscal stress score. 

Item 137 #20c- This amendment deposits $100.0 million the first year into the College Partnership Laboratory Schools (CPLS) Fund and authorizes the Board of Education to award $5.0 million for planning grants to CPLS applicants, $20.0 million for startup grants to approved CPLS, and to distribute per pupil funds to approved CPLS. This amendment further requires the Board of Education to establish CPLS Fund guidelines before the release of funds and reverts any unobligated funds at the end of the 2022-24 biennium to the general fund. 

Item 137 #25c- This amendment provides $30.8 million the first year and $31.6 million the second year from the general fund to provide one reading specialist for every 550 students in kindergarten through third grade, and provides flexibility for school divisions to employ other instructional staff working toward obtaining the training and licensure requirements prescribed in House Bill 319 that will become effective in the 2024-2025 school year. This amendment also eliminates $31.5 million the first year and $31.6 million the second year that was included in the introduced budget to expand Early Reading Intervention from kindergarten through third grade to kindergarten through fifth grade. This amendment is net of both actions. 

General Provisions: 

Item 4-14 #7c- This amendment provides an exemption on the 1.5% state sales tax imposed on food purchased for human consumption or essential personal hygiene products effective January 1, 2023. Additionally, it provides that the amount of the 1% dedicated to public education be replaced with a like amount of general fund distributed based on school-age population, consistent with the distribution of sales tax.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

April 2022 General Fund Revenues Exceed Forecasts

Governor Glenn Youngkin announced that April revenue collections exceeded forecasts, growing 45.7 percent over April of 2021. General fund revenues were approximately $1.9 billion higher year-to-date than the mid-session revised forecast issued in February. Total revenue collections have risen 19.0 percent through April, well ahead of the revised annual forecast of 9.2 percent growth. 

In percentage terms, payroll withholding and sales tax collections grew 4.8 percent and 8.4 percent in April, respectively. Fiscal year-to-date, withholding revenues are up 9.5 percent, ahead of the full-year forecast growth rate of 9.0 percent, and sales tax collections are up 14.4 percent, ahead of the annual 11.4 percent forecast.

Continued revenue growth is supported by a steady economy as well as recent improved job growth. From January to March, the number of employed Virginians increased by 42,000, ranking Virginia 14th among the states for employment growth during that time. 

The full April 2022 revenue report is available here

Monday, May 9, 2022

School Safety Grant Applications Announced

Grants are available through the Fiscal Year 2022 School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP) via the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). The program's goal is to improve security at schools and on school grounds through evidence-based school safety programs and technology. Under this program, $53 million is available to states, units of local government, Indian tribes, and their public agencies, including school districts (including charter school districts and school districts with a single school), school boards, and law enforcement agencies.  

Each application must accompanied by an assurance that the application was prepared after consultation with individuals not limited to law enforcement officers (including licensed mental health professionals, social workers, students, parents, school violence researchers/academics (if practical), teachers, principals, and other school personnel) to ensure that improvements to be funded under the grant are consistent with a comprehensive approach to preventing school violence; protective of student privacy and ensure that students are not discriminated against on the basis of race, national origin, disability, religion, or sex; and, individualized to the needs of each school at which those improvements are to be made.  Applications are due June 14. The announcement and submission guidelines are available at https://cops.usdoj.gov/pdf/2022ProgramDocs/svpp/solicitation.pdf. 

The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) also announced that grants are available for its STOP School Violence Program. Applications may be submitted that address one or more of the following areas:  

  • developing and operating technology solutions such as anonymous reporting systems for threats of school violence; 
  • multidisciplinary behavioral threat assessment and/or intervention teams; training school personnel and educating students on preventing school violence, including strategies to improve a school climate; 
  • specialized training for law enforcement who work in schools and/or with school-age populations such as school resource officers (SROs) and probation officers; and
  • hiring of school support personnel such as climate specialists, school psychologists, school social workers, school-based violence interrupters, and others directly supporting the prevention of school violence. 

Grant applications are due by June 14. The full grant announcement is available online at bja.ojp.gov/funding/O-BJA-2022-171118.pdf. 

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Senate, House Meet for 2022 Reconvene Session

The Virginia General Assembly met for the 2022 Reconvened Session on Wednesday, April 29. Each year, lawmakers meet in the reconvened session to consider legislative vetoes and recommendations by the Governor to legislation passed in the regular session of the General Assembly. The following actions were taken by the General Assembly on legislation of interest to school boards in the Commonwealth.

2022 Reconvene Session Report

SB 36 (Norment)/ HB 4 (Wyatt) Requires that school principals report to law enforcement certain enumerated acts that may constitute a misdemeanor offense and report to the parents of any minor student who is the specific object of such act that the incident has been reported to law enforcement. Under current law, principals are required to make such reports only for such acts that may constitute a felony offense. The bill provides, as an exception to the requirement to report any written threats against school personnel while on a school bus, on school property, or at a school-sponsored activity, that a principal is not required but may report to the local law-enforcement agency any such incident committed by a student who has an individualized education plan. 

Governor’s Recommendation

The Senate rejected the Governor’s recommendation on line 36 by a vote of 21-19. The House concurred with this recommendation by a vote of 57-43. The Governor’s Recommendation was not agreed to as it failed to receive a majority vote in each chamber.

The Senate concurred with the Governor’s recommendation on line 52 through line 53 by a vote of 40-0. The House concurred with this recommendation by a vote of 88-12. The Governor’s Recommendation was agreed to as it received a majority vote in each chamber.

SB 62 (Favola)/ HB 215 (Robinson) Establishes the School Health Services Committee in the legislative branch to review and provide advice to the General Assembly and other policy makers regarding proposals that require local school boards to offer certain health services in a school setting. The bill requires the Committee to submit its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly and the Governor by October 1 of each year. The bill has an expiration date of July 1, 2025.

Governor’s Recommendation

The Senate and House concurred with the Governor’s Recommendation.

SB 78 (Norment) Requires the Board of Education to include an additional minimum 90-minute parent/student driver education component as part of the classroom portion of its driver education program for all public school divisions and provides that participation in such component shall be encouraged but shall not be required. Under current law, participation in such parent/student driver education component is required in Planning District 8 (Northern Virginia) and optional in all other school divisions. The bill also requires such parent/student driver education component to emphasize the dangers of distracted driving. 

Governor’s Recommendation

The Senate and House concurred with the Governor’s Recommendation.

HB 307 (Freitas) Provides that a public body subject to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act shall make all reasonable efforts to supply records requested by a citizen at the lowest possible cost. The bill also requires a public body, prior to conducting a search for records, to notify the requester in writing of the public body's right to make reasonable charges not to exceed its actual cost incurred in accessing, duplicating, supplying, or searching for requested records and inquire of the requester whether he would like to request a cost estimate in advance of the supplying of the requested records.

Governor’s Recommendation

The Senate and House concurred with the Governor’s Recommendation.

HB 585 (Van Valkenburg) Requires, except for those middle and high school students with significant cognitive disabilities who participate in an alternate assessment, each student in middle and high school to take only those end-of-course Standards of Learning assessments necessary to meet federal accountability requirements and Virginia high school graduation requirements. The bill requires, with such funds as may be appropriated for such purpose, and except in the case of students who participate in an alternate assessment, the Standards of Learning assessments for Virginia Studies, Civics and Economics, Virginia and U.S. history, and biology to include items that require the student to apply knowledge and skills in preparing a response. Such items shall include open-ended questions, long-form writing, and other tasks, with student responses scored by the Department of Education according to statewide scoring rubrics. The bill requires student performance on the Virginia and U.S. history and biology end-of-course assessments to account for 10 percent of the student's final grade in each such course. The bill also requires the Department of Education to convene and consult a work group to develop a plan for the implementation of such assessment items no later than the beginning of the 2027–2028 school year.

Governor Recommendation (Substitute HB 585)

The Senate and House concurred with the Governor’s Recommendation.

HB 873 (Greenhalgh) Requires, in the case of any public elementary or secondary school in which a school resource officer is employed, the threat assessment team for such school to include at least one such school resource officer. The bill requires the chief local law-enforcement officer for any local school division in which a public elementary or secondary school does not employ a school resource officer to designate a law-enforcement officer to receive, either in-person or online, the school safety training for public school personnel conducted by the Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety in accordance with relevant law and requires such officer to serve as the law-enforcement liaison for the school administrator in such a school who has also received such training as prescribed by relevant law.

Governor’s Recommendation

The Senate and House concurred with the Governor’s Recommendation.

HB 879 (Rasoul) Requires the nine-member Board of Education, all of whom are appointed by the Governor, to include at least one member with experience or expertise in local government leadership or policymaking, at least one member with experience or expertise in career and technical education, and at least one member with experience or expertise in early childhood education.

Governor’s Recommendation (Substitute HB 879)

The Senate and House concurred with the Governor’s Recommendation.

HB 1026 (Guzman) Requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction to establish and appoint no more than 12 members to the Digital Citizenship, Internet Safety, and Media Literacy Advisory Council (the Council), including at least one of each of the following: teacher, librarian, representative of a parent-teacher organization who is the parent of a school-age child, school administrator, student, and individual with expertise in digital citizenship, Internet safety, and media literacy. The bill requires the Council to (i) develop and recommend to the Board of Education for adoption a model policy for local school boards that would enable such school boards to better support the digital citizenship, Internet safety, and media literacy of all students and teachers in the local school division; (ii) develop and recommend to the Board for adoption model instructional practices for the safe, ethical, and responsible use of media and technology by students and teachers in public elementary and secondary schools; (iii) design and post on the Department of Education's website a page with links to successful instructional practices, curricula, and other teacher resources used in school divisions within and outside of the Commonwealth for the safe, ethical, and responsible use of media and technology by students and teachers; and (iv) submit a report of its findings to the Chairmen of the House Committee on Education and the Senate Committee on Education and Health no later than October 31, 2023. The bill has an expiration date of July 1, 2024.

Governor’s Recommendation (Substitute HB 1026)

The Senate and House concurred with the Governor’s Recommendation.

HB 1138 (Reid) Requires the lot drawing required to be conducted by the Loudoun County Electoral Board to determine the members of four of nine districts who will be elected to the Loudoun County School Board for four-year terms and the members of the remaining five districts who will be elected to the Loudoun County School Board for two-year terms to ensure the staggering of member terms for such school board to be conducted at the electoral board's first meeting of 2023 but no later than January 31, 2023.

Governor’s Recommendation (Substitute HB 1138)

The Senate rejected the Governor’s Recommendation by a vote of 22-18. The House concurred with the Governor’s Recommendation by a vote of 51-48. The Governor’s Recommendation was not agreed to as it failed to receive a majority vote in each chamber.

HB 1188 (Davis) Establishes the Student Advisory Board for the purpose of providing student perspectives on matters before the Board of Education.

Governor’s Recommendation

The Senate and House concurred with the Governor’s Recommendation.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

House Early Childhood and Innovation Subcommittee Meeting- March 2, 2022

The House Early Childhood and Innovation Subcommittee met on March 2, 2022 for their final convening of the 2022 session. The subcommittee took the following action on legislation appearing on its docket.

SB 384 (Dunnavant) Directs the Department of Education to establish the Statewide Learning Management System (VaLMS). The VaLMS shall be available to each public school in the Commonwealth. The bill allows school boards to utilize the full capacity of the VaLMS as an alternative to a locally funded learning management system. The bill failed to report due to lack of a motion.

SB 421 (Edwards) Revises and repeals obsolete provisions in Title 22.1 (Education) related to early childhood education and elementary and secondary education and Title 42.1 (Libraries) related to libraries and the Virginia Public Records Act. The bill also makes technical amendments. This bill is a recommendation of the Virginia Code Commission. The bill reported by a vote of 8-0.

SB 662 (Lucas) Requires the Department of Education to include on each School Quality Profile data on teachers' race and proficiency in any language other than English. The bill was carried over to 2023.

SB 704 (Kiggans) Requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction to, at least annually, survey all local school divisions and use such data to strengthen the comprehensive availability of school health services information. The bill provides that information to be collected in the survey shall include: (i) staffing levels of school health personnel, (ii) the prevalence of students with chronic health conditions, (iii) the percentage of students with health services written in their records, (iv) the number of visits to the school health office and dispositions, (v) health services provided by each school, and (vi) any other information deemed appropriate. The bill requires each local school division to complete each survey. The bill was carried over to 2023.



Friday, February 25, 2022

House Committee Tables Sales Tax Legislation

This morning, the House of Delegates Finance Subcommittee #3 tabled three pieces of legislation that would have allowed voters to impose a 1% sales tax to pay for school repairs and construction. This legislation was a priority for VSBA in the 2022 session and passed out of the Senate with overwhelming support.

SB 36 (Norment) Adds Isle of Wight County to the list of localities that, under current law, are authorized to impose an extra one percent local sales tax. Revenue from the tax may be used only for constructing or renovating schools. This bill was Laid on the Table by a 4-3 vote.

SB 298 (Deeds) Adds the City of Charlottesville to the list of localities that, under current law, are authorized to impose an additional local sales and use tax at a rate not to exceed one percent, with the revenue used only for capital projects for the construction or renovation of schools. This bill was Laid on the Table by a 4-3 vote.

SB 472 (McClellan) Allows any county or city to levy a local general retail sales tax and a local use tax at a rate not to exceed one percent as determined by its governing body to provide revenues solely for capital projects for the construction or renovation of schools if such levy is approved in a voter referendum. Under current law, the power to levy such local sales and use taxes for the construction or renovation of schools is limited to the qualifying localities of Charlotte, Gloucester, Halifax, Henry, Mecklenburg, Northampton, Patrick, and Pittsylvania Counties and the City of Danville. This bill was Laid on the Table by 4-3 vote.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Senate Education and Health Committee Meeting- February 24, 2022

The Senate Education and Health Committee met on Thursday, February 24, 2022. HB 346 (Davis), which allows for college partnership laboratory schools was Passed by for the Day. The committee took the following actions on K-12 legislation appearing on its docket.

HB 217 (Simonds) Requires the Virginia STEM Education Advisory Board (the Board) to (i) review the occupational categories in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' standard occupational classification system to determine the occupational categories that are not properly captured in the Commonwealth's existing STEM+C workforce profile and the gaps in the Commonwealth's tracking of careers in these occupational categories for the purpose of better aligning K-16 education priorities and the Board's tracking and coordination of STEM+C and (ii) share its findings with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority's Office of Education and Labor Market Alignment (the Office) to include in the Office's efforts to specifically align STEM+C workforce and education. The bill requires the Board, in conducting such review, to focus on occupational categories that are not currently tracked or categorized by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as STEM+C career fields. The bill also requires the Board to submit its findings and any recommendations to the General Assembly no later than October 1, 2022. The committee reported and referred the legislation to the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee by a vote of 15-0.

HB 221 (Davis)  Adds science, technology, engineering, mathematics and computing (STEM+C), which includes real-world, interdisciplinary, and computational instruction and preparation of students in STEM+C, to the list of topics that shall be included in the Standards of Learning for the Commonwealth. The bill also directs the Virginia STEM Education Advisory Board to develop and submit to the Board of Education (i) a rubric that shall be used by the Board of Education in setting out what factors permit a school to be defined as a STEM school and (ii) recommendations for the Board to create a measurement for quality of STEM programming in general education instruction. The bill also directs the Virginia STEM Education Advisory Board to draft and report to the Department of Education proposed common language and terminology that better defines the basic literacies employed in STEM+C as methodological approaches to solving universal human challenges and, as essential, generalizable and transferable literacy toward the application of skills and content needed to solve those challenges. The bill also directs the Department of Education, based on such proposed language and terminology and no later than December 1, 2022, to recommend finalized language and terminology to the Board of Education. The bill clarifies that nothing in the foregoing provisions of the bill shall be construed to establish any new course or credit requirements for students. The bill was reported and referred tot he Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee by a vote of 15-0.

HB 294 (Freitas)  Declares eligible for a scholarship from a scholarship foundation that receives an education improvement scholarship tax credit, on the same basis as any other eligible student, eligible students in need of a safer school environment, defined in the bill as any student who, while enrolled in a public elementary or secondary school in kindergarten through grade 12, was the victim of assault, battery, bullying, harassment, hazing, kidnapping, or robbery on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored activity, as substantiated by an investigation and written report by the school principal. The bill provides that (i) eligible students in need of a safer school environment are permitted to use such scholarships to cover the expenses associated with attending another public school within or outside of his school division of residence and (ii) there are no family income restrictions on scholarships for eligible students in need of a safer school environment. The bill clarifies that no public elementary or secondary school or local school division is prohibited or precluded from offering various educational alternatives to an eligible student in need of a safer school environment. The bill was Passed by Indefinitely by a 9-6 vote.

HB 319 (Coyner) Makes several changes relating to early student literacy, including requiring (i) each education preparation program offered by a public institution of higher education or private institution of higher education or alternative certification program that provides training for any individual seeking initial licensure with an endorsement in a certain area, including as a reading specialist, to demonstrate mastery of science-based reading research and evidence-based literacy instruction, as such terms are defined in the bill; (ii) the literacy assessment required of individuals seeking initial teacher licensure with endorsements in certain areas to include a rigorous test of science-based reading research and evidence-based literacy instruction; (iii) each local school board to establish a divisionwide literacy plan; (iv) each local school board to employ one reading specialist for each 550 students in kindergarten through grade three; and (v) each local school board to provide a program of literacy instruction whereby, among other things, (a) the program provides reading intervention services to students in kindergarten through grade three who demonstrate deficiencies based on their individual performance on the Standards of Learning reading assessment or an early literacy screener provided or approved by the Department of Education; (b) a reading specialist, in collaboration with the teacher of any student who receives such reading intervention services, develops, oversees implementation of, and monitors student progress on a student reading plan; and (c) each student who receives such reading intervention services is assessed utilizing either the early literacy screener provided or approved by the Department or the grade-level reading Standards of Learning assessment again at the end of that school year. The provisions of the bill become effective beginning with the 2024–2025 school year. The bill was reported and referred to the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee with amendment by a vote of 15-0.

HB 356 (Tata) Authorizes the Board of Education (the Board) to establish regional charter school divisions consisting of at least two but not more than three existing school divisions in any case in which (i) each such local school division is in close proximity and has an enrollment of more than 3,000 students and (ii) at least two such local school divisions have grades three through eight math and English reading Standards of Learning assessment performance in the bottom quartile of the Commonwealth. The bill requires such regional charter school divisions to be supervised by a school board that consists of eight members appointed by the Board and one member appointed by the localities of each of the underlying divisions. The bill authorizes the school board, after a review by the Board, to review and approve public charter school applications in the regional charter school divisions and to contract with the applicant. The bill requires that the state share of Standards of Quality per pupil funding of the underlying school district in which the student resides be transferred to such school. The bill was Passed by Indefinitely by a 9-6 vote.

HB 585 (Van Valkenburg) Requires, except for those middle and high school students with significant cognitive disabilities who participate in an alternate assessment, each student in middle and high school to take only those end-of-course Standards of Learning assessments necessary to meet federal accountability requirements and Virginia high school graduation requirements. The bill requires, with such funds as may be appropriated for such purpose, and except in the case of students who participate in an alternate assessment, the Standards of Learning assessments for Virginia Studies, Civics and Economics, Virginia and U.S. history, and biology to include items that require the student to apply knowledge and skills in preparing a response. Such items shall include open-ended questions, long-form writing, and other tasks, with student responses scored by the Department of Education according to statewide scoring rubrics. The bill requires student performance on the Virginia and U.S. history and biology end-of-course assessments to account for 10 percent of the student's final grade in each such course. The bill also requires the Department of Education to convene and consult a work group to develop a plan for the implementation of such assessment items no later than the beginning of the 2027–2028 school year. The bill reported and was referred to the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee by a vote 9-4-2.

HB 649 (Carr) Requires the Department of Education, in coordination with the Department for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing and the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, to (i) select, with input from an advisory committee that the bill establishes, language developmental milestones and include such milestones in a resource for use by parents of a child from birth to age five who is identified as deaf or hard of hearing to monitor and track their child's expressive and receptive language acquisition and developmental stages toward English literacy; (ii) disseminate such resource to such parents; (iii) select existing tools or assessments for educators for use in assessing the language and literacy development of children from birth to age five who are deaf or hard of hearing; (iv) disseminate such tools or assessments to local educational agencies and provide materials and training on their use; and (v) annually produce a report that compares the language and literacy development of children from birth to age five who are deaf or hard of hearing with the language and literacy development of their peers who are not deaf or hard of hearing and make such report available to the public on its website. The bill was reported and referred to the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee with a substitute by a 14-0 vote.

HB 1009 (Durant) Requires the Department of Education to develop and each local school board to adopt model policies for ensuring parental notification of any instructional material that includes sexually explicit content and include information, guidance, procedures, and standards relating to (i) ensuring parental notification; (ii) directly identifying the specific instructional material and sexually explicit subjects; and (iii) permitting the parent of any student to review instructional material that includes sexually explicit content and provide, as an alternative, nonexplicit instructional material and related academic activities to any student whose parent so requests. The bill provides that the local school board model policies may be more comprehensive than the model policies developed by the Department. The bill requires the Department to develop such model policies no later than July 31, 2022, and requires each local school board to adopt policies consistent with this act no later than January 1, 2023. The bill states that the provisions of the bill shall not be construed as requiring or providing for the censoring of books in public elementary and secondary schools. The bill failed to report by a vote of 7-8.

HB 1023 (Guzman) Permits any family life education curriculum offered by a local school division in high school to incorporate age-appropriate elements of effective and evidence-based programs on the prevention, recognition, and awareness of human trafficking of children. The bill reported by a vote of 15-0.

HB 1129 (Taylor) Requires each local school board to require its schools to collaborate with the chief law-enforcement officer of the locality or his designee when conducting required school safety audits. Under current law, the division superintendent is required to make the results of such audits available to the chief law-enforcement officer upon request. The bill also requires that the completed walk-through checklist using the standardized checklist provided by the Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety be made available to the chief law-enforcement officer of the locality or his designee. Current law requires that the completed walk-through checklist be made available to the chief law-enforcement officer or his designee upon request. The bill reported by a vote of 15-0.

HB 1138 (Reid) Requires the lot drawing required to be conducted by the Loudoun County Electoral Board to determine the members of four of nine districts who will be elected to the Loudoun County School Board for four-year terms and the members of the remaining five districts who will be elected to the Loudoun County School Board for two-year terms to ensure the staggering of member terms for such school board to be conducted at the electoral board's first meeting of 2023 but no later than January 31, 2023. The bill reported by a vote 13-0-2.

HB 1246 (Tran) Requires the Department of Education to convene a work group to provide input and recommendations to the Department of Education, the Board of Education, and the General Assembly no later than November 1, 2022, regarding (i) ways in which school divisions can effectively identify and receive responsive and responsible bids from vendors to procure digital tools, including online platforms, courses, digital applications, information and communication technology services, and digital content, that comply with the federal accessibility standard and (ii) any statutory or regulatory changes that may assist school divisions to procure such digital tools that comply with such standard. The bill reported by a vote of 15-0.

HB 1272 (Batten) Requires, except in the case of the 10 unscheduled remote learning days otherwise permitted by law or in certain cases of student discipline, each school board to offer in-person instruction, as defined in the bill, to each student enrolled in the local school division in a public elementary or secondary school for at least the minimum number of required annual instructional hours and to each student enrolled in the local school division in a public school-based early childhood care and education program for the entirety of the instructional time provided pursuant to such program. The bill permits, notwithstanding any other provision of law or any regulation, rule, or policy implemented by a school board, school division, school official, or other state or local authority, the parent of any child enrolled in a public elementary or secondary school, or in any school-based early childhood care and education program, to elect for such child to not wear a mask while on school property. The bill provides that no parent making such an election shall be required to provide a reason or any certification of the child's health or education status and no student shall suffer any adverse disciplinary or academic consequences as a result of this parental election. The bill reported by a vote of 8-7.

HB 1299 (Coyner) Requires the Department of Education to collect and distribute to public schools and publicly post on its website information that assists high school students in making more informed decisions about their futures after graduating from high school and in doing so ensure that such students are aware of the costs and benefits of different educational and certificate programs. The bill directs the Department to annually collect and compile such information in consultation with the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and any other entity that can assist the Department with collecting and compiling such information and to update its distribution materials accordingly each year. The bill requires the Department to post and distribute the information to school boards, with any relevant updates, no later than October 1 each year and requires each school board to ensure that the information is readily available to each high school student and distributed to each high school student who expresses an interest in attending an institution of higher education or completing another training program as described in the bill. The bill reported by a vote of 15-0.

HB 1328 (Delaney)  Requires the Board of Education to amend its regulations to require each early childhood care and education entity to implement policies for the possession and administration of epinephrine in every such entity, to be administered by any nurse at the entity, employee at the entity, or employee of a local health department who is authorized by a prescriber and trained in the administration of epinephrine to any child believed to be having an anaphylactic reaction. The bill mandates that such policies shall require that at least one school nurse, employee at the entity, or employee of a local health department who is authorized by a prescriber and trained in the administration of epinephrine has the means to access at all times during regular facility hours any such appropriate weight-based dosage of epinephrine that is stored in a locked or otherwise generally inaccessible container or area. This bill shall be known as Elijah's Law. The bill reported by a vote of 15-0.