Education Legislative Update — Week of February 1, 2010
Last week, Rep. Casas provided a substitute in the committee meeting that included a waiver for expenditure controls and additional flexibility. The bill is intended to provide greater flexibility to local school boards during this current budget crisis. Debate centered on two issues: a proposed class size waiver and accountability.
Currently, the bill does not allow for public schools to waive rules setting a maximum class size. Proponents of a class size waiver estimate that it could save up to $434 million and avoid further furloughs that would otherwise be required to balance the budget. On accountability, some committee members would like public schools to be held to a higher accountability standard in exchange for being able to waive the education rules specified in the bill, much like the higher accountability standards applied to charter schools and IE2 systems.
Additional committee hearings on the matter have been delayed for two weeks to allow lawmakers to craft compromises and alleviate concerns about the legislation.
House Bill 927, sponsored by Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-DeKalb), the bill would provide schools discretion in removing a bully from the school and tranfering him/her to an alternative school.
The bill was the subject of an extensive debate last week in the Non Civil Judiciary Subcommittee, presided over by newly named chairman Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth). The primary concerns are the lack of an alternative school option in some districts and the fact that a student can be removed at the school’s discretion after one offense. The debate is scheduled to continue this week.
Senate Bill 90, sponsored by Sen. Eric Johnson (currently a Republican candidate for governor), would provide scholarships for current public school students to attend any school in the state, public or private.
Senate Bill 137, sponsored by Sen. Ed Harbison (D-Columbus), would remove possible barriers to educational success imposed on children of military families because of frequent moves and parental deployment through record sharing, attendence policy changes, etc.
Senate Bill 301, sponsored by Sen. Lester Jackson (D-Savannah), would raise the mandatory age of education from 16 to 17.
Senate Bill 320, sponsored by Sen. Judson Hill (R-Marietta), would provide for a “Teacher’s Bill of Rights.”
House Bill 966, sponsored by Rep. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody), provides that permanent classroom space shall not include temporary buildings, portable units, or trailers for purposes of intradistrict transfers between schools.
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