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Friday, April 19, 2019

NOTES FROM THE SENATE, APRIL 19, 2019

K-12 EDUCATION FARES VERY WELL IN 2019 SESSION

K-12 Education continued to be a major investment in the Amended and General Budgets passed this Session. Legislation focused on school safety and expanding counseling and mental health services as well as areas such as improving dyslexia screening and assistance.
School Safety, teacher pay raises and fully funding QBE highlighted the FY 19 and 20 Budgets.

LEGISLATION RELATED TO K-12 EDUCATION

SB 15- Revises the criteria and processes for school safety plans, requires site threat assessments and establishes the duties of school safety coordinators. Three agencies will share data on potential threats, Ga. DOE, GBI and Ga. Information Sharing & Analysis Center.
A smartphone app, "See Something, Send Something" is being implemented to encourage anonymous information from within the school.

The school safety plan is submitted to first the local law enforcement agency as designated by the local board, then to the state DOE. The school will conduct at least one safety exercise yearly. The public school principal or the designee for faculty or staff serves as the school safety coordinator who will file an annual report on the site plan and threat assessment. Other responsibilities include coordinating with GBI and other agencies and reporting criminal activity to local law enforcement.

SB 48-requires state BOE to develop policies on k-3 children for screening for dyslexia. Requires DOE to develop a dyslexia endorsement for teachers along with standards for instruction. It also requires GaDOE to produce a handbook by December 1, 2019, with information and guidance on dyslexia for teachers.

Evaluation and monitoring are part of the process of the training for dyslexia treatment in schools. Legislation creates a pilot program for 2020-2021 school year to demonstrate the effectiveness of early reading assistance for students with dyslexia.

SB 83-Current law allows public schools to make available to students in grades 9-12 an elective course on the history and literature of the Old Testament or New Testament.
Expands the elective course offerings to include courses on:
1. The Hebrew Scriptures in the Old Testament
2. The New Testament
The legislation allows for the teaching of the influence of the Scriptures on law, history government, literature, art, music, customs, morals, values and culture

SB 83-The REACH Scholarship-Lays out the regulations for this scholarship and places limits on the number of scholarships based on the size of the district. Gives the criteria for a student to qualify and allows for $10,000 for each REACH scholar from the Ga. Student Finance Authority.
Students are designated in the 7th grade and sign what is a contract for certain behavior and standards and are rewarded upon graduation with a college scholarship.

SB 108-Requires computer science courses to be taught in middle and high school and provides for grants for professional development programs for teachers that provide instruction. Would be phased in starting with the 2022-2023 school year.

HB 83-Requires schools to schedule recess for students between kindergarten and 5th grade starting in 2019-2020 school year. Not required on days when physical education or other conditions inhibit recess.

K-12 BUDGET ADDITIONS

FY 2020 Budget:
--$522.1 million for $3000 pay raise for teachers and other certified school educational staff starting in July.
--2% raise for school bus drivers, food service employees and other non-certified school staff.
--Adds $ 750,000 by transfer and new funds for professional development grants for teachers instructing computer science courses and content
--$100,000 for a pilot to demonstrate and evaluate the effectiveness of early reading assistance programs for at-risk students with dyslexia
--$1 million for grants to schools for feminine hygiene products for low income students
--$133.6 million for enrollment growth and training and experience
--$413,000 to reduce austerity cut to RESAs
--$1.0 million transferred to fund additional high school counselors and enriching counseling programs for Title I schools
--$250,000 for cyber security initiatives in high schools across state.
--Increases retirement funding for school bus drivers and food service (PSERS) by 25 cents per month for each year of service
--$78.6 million increase for Equalization payments to low wealth systems
--$323,000 for Life Science Industry Certification to rural school districts in collaboration with Ga. Youth Science and Technology Centers
-- $200,000 to Communities in Schools for wraparound support
--$220,000 for systems and schools to reach and maintain industry certification in field of construction
--$250,000- to support 50 participants in the Governor's School Leadership Academy

FY 19 Budget:
-- 69.4 million- school safety grants- $30,000 per school
-- 8.4 million- Expand Georgia Apex Program for support counselors for mental health services in high schools

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