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Friday, April 27, 2018

NOTES FROM THE SENATE, APRIL 27, 2018

ALL ASPECTS OF EDUCATION A WINNER IN 2018

Whether you are interested in more funding for public education, a better deal for charter schools, scholarship funds for private schools or the future of the Teachers Retirement System, the FY 2019 Budget and legislation passed this year held something you could like. This week's column looks at education related legislation and funding initiatives that will help education all over the state.

LEGISLATION AFFECTING PUBLIC, CHARTER, PRIVATE SCHOOLS

--SB 3-- Authored by Senator Lindsay Tippins, SB 3 requires the state Board of Education to develop a minimum course of study in career education in grades 6-12 which would include participation in work-based learning programs and rigorous industry credentialing.

--SB 362-- Also authored by Sen. Tippins, this bill pilots an Innovative Assessment Pilot Program for alternate assessment and accountability systems that would be aligned with state academic content standards. A three to five year program would involve up to ten school systems. Schools would develop their own alternate assessment systems and the state would seek necessary U.S. Education Dept. waivers.

--SB 401-- This bill contained two areas of content. The first calls for individual student graduation plans based on student skills, career aptitudes and interests. SB 401 also requires postsecondary institutions to provide dual enrollment and student data to the Office of Student Achievement. DOE is tasked to review and report on each school counselor's role, workload and program service delivery in grades 6-12. SB 401 also included HB 762 which requires age-appropriate sexual abuse and assault awareness and prevention training annually in grades 9-12.

--HB 718-- Allows up to five excused school day absences for children of military members to attend military sponsored events.

--HB 740-- Prescribes that children in public preschool through 3rd grade cannot be expelled or suspended for more than five consecutive or cumulative days during the school year without receiving a multi-tiered system of support (MTSS). Not applied where a weapon is involved.

--HB 763-- Requires updates and improved school climate plans and requires schools to prepare school safety plans to address preparedness for natural disasters, hazardous materials, radiological accidents, acts of violence and acts of terrorism. Sets up requirements for drills and meshes with SB 457, which sets out requirements in these plans. Schools may request funding under DOE criteria.

--HB 852-- This bill allows a student who moves after completing at least half of the school year to remain in that school till the year ends.

--HB 217-- This bill expands the state-wide cap on income tax credits for scholarships for private schools from the present cap of $58 million to $100 million and sunsets the bill in ten years. Also establishes limits on the percentage donor scholarship organizations can claim for administration based on the amount of funds handled.

--HB 978-- Allows for the installation of automated cameras in school zones for speed monitoring and ticketing during certain hours. Allows for a civil procedure for fines resulting for violations and authorizes auto registrations and license renewals for failure to pay these fines.

--HB787-Changes the funding formula for state charter schools.

FUNDING FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS, SAFETY AND RETIREMENT SYSTEM HEADS THE LIST

--$166.7 million added to the FY 19 revenue estimate in conference means school systems around the state will be fully funded under the QBE funding formula. In many counties the amount of new funding to be received July amounts to close to a mill of taxes and means many systems are adding raises for teachers for this coming school year.

--$16 million in bonds for school safety plans. Understanding is that each system gets $25,000 and the balance to be based on FTE count.

--$16.25 million in bonds for school busses including $1.25 million for alternative fuel school busses.

--$12.2 million for technology and vocational equipment for statewide.

--$13.3 million in redirected K-12 education construction bonds.

--$260.7 million in bonds for K-12 school construction statewide.

--$750,000 to insure each low-income student receives one non-STEM Advanced Placement exam free of charge.

--$2.1 million in total funds for the K-12 Chief Turnaround Officer's budget that includes five District Effectiveness Specialists to help underachieving schools.

--$436,000 to purchase and equip a mobile audiology lab to provide audiological care to children in rural Georgia.

--$362.4 million for the Teachers Retirement System to keep the fund in good condition.

EDUCATION- STILL TOPS GEORGIA'S BUDGET

K-12 Education consumes almost 40% of the total state budget and with all educational agencies counted, about 54%. A growing state like Georgia requires more classrooms, more QBE funding and a steady supply of teachers. All of these are challenges as we look to the future.

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 2019 budget (H.B. 684) may be found at http://www.senate.ga.gov/sbeo/en-US/AppropriationsDocuments.aspx. As always, I welcome any questions you may have.

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