Friday, April 28, 2017
NOTES FROM THE SENATE, APRIL 28, 2017
TEACHER PAY RAISE AND "TURNAROUND" LEGISLATION HIGHLIGHT EDUCATION SESSION
HB 338 - First Priority Act: "Helping Turnaround Schools Put Students First" - Targets the 5% lowest performing schools in the state. Provides for a State Turnaround Officer and for turnaround coaches to work with local school systems to help turn schools around. The Chief Officer will answer to the State Board of Education. The initial plan is to turn them around within three years. If not successful, there are a number of sanctions including allowing parents to relocate students to different schools and conversion to a charter school.
HB 237 - Allows donations through tax credits that will flow to the lowest performing schools. Individual state taxpayers can receive a tax credit for up to $1000 for their donations while married couples can receive a tax credit of up to $2500. Corporations can donate up to 75% of their Georgia tax liability while LLCs, S Corps and partners can donate up to $10,000. There is an overall cap of $5 million annually. Starts on January 1, 2018, and sunsets in 2020.
HB 139 - Requires the State Department of Education to provide budgetary and expenditure information on their website. Includes, for each school, cost of all materials, equipment and non-staff support, salaries and benefits of staff and the cost of all professional development. Also includes the cost of facility maintenance, new construction or renovations and the budget of local boards of education.
HB 198 - Requires local boards of education to provide information on flu and flu vaccines if they are already providing other information to students on immunizations. Also repeals the sunset of the SHAPE program, the annual fitness assessment program in Georgia schools.
HB 425 - Allows students to take assessments in paper and pencil format if requested by the parent. Local Superintendent must develop guidelines for policies on how students who are not participating in statewide assessments will be supervised and assessed.
FIRST "REAL" COLA PAY RAISE FOR TEACHERS FUNDED IN FY 2018
Even though more than $1 billion in new funding has been appropriated to K-12 Education over the last three years, teacher pay has not been increased by every system. The FY 2018 budget funds the Teacher Pay Scale with a 2% increase which means every teacher gets a permanent increase and also since the pay scale increased, the raise counts towards an increase in retirement benefits as well.
$160.1 million to provide a 2% increase to the base schedule for certified personnel, school bus drivers in addition to funding for school food service employees' raises.
Budget Item No. 137.11 - $1 million to fund HB 338 and hire a Chief Turnaround Officer to lead efforts to help underperforming schools.
Budget Item No. 148.1 - Adds $85.8 million to existing funds for Equalization for lower tax base school systems.
Budget Item No. 150.3 - Adds $133.3 million for enrollment growth as well as training and experience in the teacher pay scale.
Budget Item No. 151.3 - Adds $1.2 million to convert part-time personnel in RESAs to full-time for the Positive Behavior and Intervention Support initiative.
Budget Item 174.7 - Utilizes existing and transfer funds to provide one free Advanced Placement test for every student statewide taking an AP STEM course.
Budget Item 174.8 - Conference Committee position to utilize existing funds for a competitive grant program providing certified counselor-graduation specialists for the state's lowest performing schools.
Budget Item 150.9 - Adds $4 million to increase the number of counselors for high-needs students in remedial and non-English speaking classes.
Budget Item 150.11 - Calls for a DOE study on the status of the state's school bus fleet and to prescribe a sustainable replacement model.
Budget Item No. 315.1 - In Student Finance Commission, adds $21 million for the Move On When Ready dual enrollment program for a total of $78.8 million.
$250.8 million in bonds for K-12 school construction, equipment and buses.
Education continues to be the highest percentage of spending by state government. K-12 Education accounts for about 38% of the state funds budget each year.
"OUT, OUT, DAMNED DAM!"
Thanks to Madelyne Meeks of the Swainsboro Forest-Blade for catching our use of "damn" for "dam" last week in Budget Item 225.9 concerning a study instructing EPD to study structural weaknesses in dams across the state. While it is "damnable" that this problem exists, we should, I'm sure, "light just one candle instead of cursing the darkness." We will try to do better, but thanks for reading.
Full transcripts of bills may be found at http://www.legis.ga.gov/en-US/default.aspx . Simply type the bill number into the box at the top left-hand corner of the screen and specify if it is in the House or the Senate. The FY 2018 budget (H.B. 44) may be found at http://www.senate.ga.gov/sbeo/en-US/AppropriationsDocuments.aspx. As always, I welcome any questions you may have.