by Georgia Charter Schools Association
Many may remember how the 2014 Session of the Georgia General Assembly ended, with many bills failing as the House and Senate were unable to find a compromise on larger issues, most notably the medical marijuana, autism insurance, and foster care bills.
This year the medical marijuana and autism insurance bills are competing with three of the more notable pieces of legislation – the 2016 state budget, transportation funding, and the Governor’s “Opportunity School District” legislation.
As those larger bills attempt to navigate through the legislative process, other smaller bills attempt to jockey for position. Some fortunate bills may find a pathway through both chambers, but the vast majority will have to wait until the larger issues get resolved.
As with most pieces of major legislation facing the House and Senate, changes to the bills occur from one chamber to the other. When this happens, the bills are sent to a joint House/Senate “conference committee” made up of a small number of House and Senate members. The conference committee is charged with finding the compromise that their respective chambers were unable to accomplish.
If the larger issues do not get resolved, we could very well see a repeat of the 2014 Session when many important bills failed to receive passage because no compromise could be found.
Currently, the House and Senate have passed their own versions of the 2016 state budget and the transportation bill. The Opportunity School District bill was debated yesterday in the House Education Committee and passed.
– * House or Senate Resolution
– Updates, additions, or new bills from the last GCSA Legislative Newsletter
HB 65, Education; local boards of education and certain charter schools to hold at least two public meetings on the proposed annual operating budget; require; Caldwell, Michael 20th,STATUS: Feb/12/2015 – House Passed/Adopted (170 – 4), Mar/19/2015 – Senate Committee Favorably Reported by Substitute
GCSA ANALYSIS: HB65 would require boards of charter schools, along with local boards of education, to “hold at least two public meetings for the purpose of providing an opportunity for public input on its proposed annual operating budget before adopting any budget.” The bill exempts “college and career academies that are charter schools; conversion charter schools whose charter is not held by a non-profit corporation; or system charter schools.” While GCSA supports transparency, we continue to address with the bill’s sponsor the need to provide transparency for all public schools, not just a select few.
TIMELINE: GCSA has met with the bill’s sponsor on numerous occasions in an attempt to improve HB65. Rep. Caldwell is seeking transparency for parents to better understand how education dollars are spent at district and school level. GCSA met with Rep. Caldwell immediately after the bill passed the House Education Committee to address concerns, most notably the burdensome requirement of holding board meetings in various parts of the state. Mar/19/2015 – Rep. Michael Caldwell, working with GCSA, provided a Senate Substitute to the Senate Education & Youth Committee, adjusting the language regarding charter schools with a statewide attendance zone having to conduct one of their board meetings in the City of Atlanta. Using suggested GCSA language, Rep. Caldwell changed the language to read, “The governing body of a charter school with a state-wide attendance zone and students residing in 25 percent or more of Georgia’s counties or in three or more counties which are not geographically contiguous shall conduct one such public meeting in the county in which its primary business office is located and one such public meeting in the metropolitan Atlanta area.”
GCSA POSITION: NEUTRAL
HB 372, Utopian Academy for the Arts Act; enact, Coomer, Christian 14th,
STATUS: Feb/19/2015 – House Second Readers, Mar/3/2015 –House Education Committee Favorably Reported by Substitute, Mar/5/2015 –House passes (170 – 0), Mar/09/2015 – Senate Read and Referred
GCSA ANALYSIS: HB 372 would prohibit additional requirements of a charter school to operate that has passed state facility inspections and received a certificate of occupancy. This bill is a direct result from the continuous obstruction by Clayton County Schools to prevent Utopian Academy for the Arts from occupying their school facility.
TIMELINE: Mar/5/2015 – HB 372 has passed the House and now travels to the Senate, Mar/20/2015 – Senate Education Committee hear the bill and asked for further clarification on the impact a charter school working with a for-profit education management organization may have in bill were signed in to law. HB 372 will be heard and voted by the Senate Education & Youth Committee on Monday March 23rd.
GCSA POSITION: SUPPORT
HB 474, Charter schools; enrollment priorities for educationally disadvantaged students and military students; provide, Kaiser, Margaret 59th,
STATUS: Feb/26/2015 – House Second Readers, Mar/3/2015 – House Education Committee Favorably Reported by Substitute, Mar/13/2015 – House Passed/Adopted By Substitute (166 – 2), Mar/20/2015 – HB 474 awaits a hearing and vote in the Senate Education & Youth Committee.
GCSA ANALYSIS: HB 474 would allow charter schools to utilize federal guidelines around weighted lotteries to assist charter schools wanting to more proactively serve students considered “educationally disadvantaged.” For many charter schools, changing demographics and more affluence within the communities they serve, prevent the charters from serving a diverse student population as their mission statement requires.
TIMELINE: House Education Committee Favorably Reported by Substitute last week. HB 474 has three working days to get voted out of House Rules and receive a majority vote by the full House. If the bill is unable to receive a majority vote by the full House, the bill will be considered “dead” for the 2015 session. GCSA has worked very closely with the bill’s sponsor as well as member charter school leaders to seek passage. After striking the term “migrant students” from the definition of educationally disadvantaged, HB 474 passed the full House 166 – 2. Mar/20/2015 – HB 474 awaits a hearing and vote in the Senate Education & Youth Committee.
GCSA POSITION: SUPPORT
HB 502, Elementary and secondary education; update and clarify provisions and repeal obsolete provisions, Dudgeon, Mike 25th,
STATUS: Mar/05/2015 – House Committee Favorably Reported by Substitute, Mar/11/2015 – House Passed/Adopted By Substitute (170 – 0), Mar/13/2015 – Senate Read and Referred, Mar/20/2015 – HB 502 awaits a hearing and vote in the Senate Education & Youth Committee.
GCSA ANALYSIS: HB 502 is the annual Title 20 “cleanup” bill. The bill had a late start this year. The bill has adopted the language from SB 80, as SB 80 was not traveling on the Senate side. There are some additional charter related changes; changing the date when charters must turn in their annual audit report to the state from October 1 to November 1. This change allows charters to use the Oct. FTE count, allowing audit numbers to more accurately reflect enrolled students.
TIMELINE: Feb/19/2015 – House Education Subcommittee for Academic Innovations to hear HB 502 on Wednesday March 4. Mar/05/2015 – House Committee Favorably Reported by Substitute. HB 502 has three working days to get voted out of House Rules and receive a majority vote by the full House. If the bill is unable to receive a majority vote by the full House, the bill will be considered “dead” for the 2015 session. HB502 moved quickly
out of Rules, the full House, and assigned to the Senate Education & Youth Committee last week. Mar/20/2015 – HB 474 awaits a hearing and vote in the Senate Education & Youth Committee.
GCSA POSITION: SUPPORT
SB 156, State Charter Schools Commission; authorize to establish a nonprofit foundation, Tippins, Lindsey 37th,
STATUS: Mar/04/2015 – Passed out of Senate Education & Youth Committee and is now in Senate Rules. Mar/09/2015 – Senate Passed/Adopted (44 – 9), Mar/11/2015 – House First Readers, Mar/13/2015 – House Second Readers, Mar/20/2015 – SB 156 received a “do pass” at subcommittee and will be voted on by the full House Education Committee later this week.
GCSA ANALYSIS: SB 156 would allow the State Charter Schools Commission to establish a 501c3 nonprofit foundation, similar to 501c3 nonprofit foundations for numerous school districts across Georgia.
TIMELINE: Mar/04/2015 – Passed out of Senate Education & Youth Committee. SB 156 has three working days to get voted out of Senate Rules and receive a majority vote by the full Senate. If the bill is unable to receive a majority vote by the full House, the bill will be considered “dead” for the 2015 session. Mar/20/2015 – SB 156 received a “do pass” at subcommittee and will be voted on by the full House Education Committee later this week.
GCSA POSITION: SUPPORT
* SR 287, Opportunity School District; allow the General Assembly to authorize the establishment; provide for state intervention for failing schools, Miller, Butch 49th, AND SB 133, Opportunity School District; establishment; provide for definitions; supervision of public elementary and secondary schools that are failing, Miller, Butch 49th,
STATUS: Mar/05/2015 – Senate passed SR 287 by Substitute (38 – 15)
Mar/05/2015 – Senate passed SB 133 by Substitute (38 – 17)
GCSA ANALYSIS: An amendment to the Constitution of Georgia and enabling legislation so as to allow the General Assembly to authorize the establishment of an Opportunity School District to provide for state intervention for failing schools. If passed, one option will be the reorganization of schools as charter schools.
TIMELINE: SR 287 and its enabling legislation, SB 133 was heard in the Senate Education & Youth Committee on Monday February 22nd for the first time. A second hearing will be held on Monday March 2. SR 287 and its enabling legislation, SB 133 followed identical paths last week, passing the Senate in a heated debate. SR 287 required a constitutional majority of 38 votes to pass. Both SR 133 and SB 287 travel to the House. SR 133 and SB 287 will be heard by the full House Education Committee on Wednesday March 18 and will allow public comments. SR 133 and SB 287 were passed by the full House Education Committee on Monday March 23.
GCSA POSITION: SUPPORT
Andrew Lewis is Executive Vice President of the Georgia Charter Schools Association.
The views and opinions expressed on CharterConfidential are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency.