Legislative Update

8 days left in the legislative session, here’s where we are.

SR 192 – Elect School Superintendents and Appoint School Boards
Senate Resolution 192 is a Constitutional amendment to allow a local decision to vote for the superintendent and have the grand jury appoint the board.
The Georgia Senate has already passed the resolution, which allows local school districts to choose if they want to elect a superintendent and have a school board appointed by a grand jury.
Local school superintendents are currently hired by elected school board members.
The House has to approve the resolution with two-thirds support, and Georgia voters would have to approve the constitutional amendment on the November 2018 election, said state Sen. John Wilkinson, R-Toccoa, who wrote the resolution.
Then, local legislative delegations would decide whether to put the resolution before voters on a local ballot, which would then require at least 50 percent voter approval, said Tippins.
If a district does choose to elect a superintendent, the superintendent candidates would have to meet election residency requirements in order to qualify for the race. That means candidates for superintendent would be limited to those who live in a particular school system.

HB 425 – Opt Out of Standardized Testing
House Bill 425 would discourage punitive actions for students refusing to participate in federal, state or local mandated standardized testing.
Traditionally, many school districts like DeKalb insist that students cannot opt out of standardized testing and that those students who do not take the standardized tests will be penalized in accordance with Georgia Law O.C.G.A. §20-2-281
This bill passed the House 4-1 and is now in the Senate.

HB 273 – The Recess Bill
House Bill 273 would require local boards of education to schedule a daily recess for students in grades K-5. Recess would consist of at least 30 minutes of supervised unstructured activity time, preferably outdoors.
The state currently has no minimum unstructured playtime.  DeKalb County School District Policy IEDA requires grades K-5 to have at least 15 minutes of supervised, unstructured break time each school day.
This bill is currently being “held for further work with the author to make it aspirational instead of a mandate to avoid unintended consequences”.  I’m guessing the legislature is concerned about how schools would implement this requirement (i.e. would they reduce instruction, extend the day, etc … ).

HB 338 – Plan B to the Opportunity School District (OSD)
“Plan B,” also known as House Bill 338, was up in the Senate Education & Youth Committee for public comment. State Supt. Richard Woods gave detailed testimony on the bill and the Department’s efforts on school improvement then answered the Senators’ questions.
Concerns about the bill had a common theme: the efficiency of the State Board directing this instead of the elected State Superintendent; the need for a clearer definition of what makes a school eligible for the program; the need for exit criteria; the lack of funding; and in our case, the removal of school board members.
No vote was taken. A substitute bill is expected on Wednesday.

7 responses to “Legislative Update

  1. Dear Mr. Jester,
    SR 192 – Elect School Superintendents and Appoint School Boards
    I hope that this bill does not pass. I should have the right to vote on my school board representative. Als a person can be a great politician and have lots of money and lots of connections. A person may know how to run a great polticial campaign. That does not necessarily mean that the person has the qualities to be a great superintendent. There are many strong people in DeKalb, but there may also be someone who may be in another state, who could do an exceptional job. That peson would not be eligible to be the superintendent. That makes no sense.
    In case of the school board representatives, I feel that if this bill is passed it will allow a representative to be less reponsive to the communities they represent. We would not have voted these people into office, why should they listen.?
    With all the many problems in Georiga, why is this even an issue,

  2. Angela Palm, GSBA Director of Policy/Legislative Services

    sent via email
    The Georgia School Boards Association supported the 1992 amendment as it provided “a balance between citizens’ rights, local control, and elected leadership for education.” At its recent business meeting the GSBA Board of Directors voted for the Association to oppose SR 192.
    We believe that it is best that the elected board be able to seek the best qualified person they can to focus on running the district efficiently and effectively without being limited to a local resident. The body setting a millage rate and calling for a bond referendum or SPLOST should be directly answerable to the voters. Superintendents should be education professionals who can focus on doing their job rather than planning their campaign.

  3. The Senate Education & Youth Committee met today and heard several bills. First up was the introduction of a substitute for the House version of HB 338, the “Plan B” bill. Committee Chairman Lindsey Tippins said he would like public comments sent to him by Friday morning (lindsey.tippins@senate.ga.gov). After reviewing the feedback, another substitute will be brought to the Committee meeting Monday.

  4. SR 192 Voted Down – Rep. Howard Maxwell, a former school board member, made a motion of “Do Not Pass” which was seconded by Rep. Amy Carter, a teacher. 17 voted for the motion not to pass it, one voted for the amendment (Rep. Valencia Stovall), and one abstained (Rep. Mike Glanton). Rep. Sam Teasley made a motion to reconsider because he wanted to make a motion to table it and work on the language. Several members of the Committee were interested in voting for both board members and superintendent. Eight voted to reconsider it and eleven voted not to do so. It’s dead.

  5. Status of House Bill 425 – (Out out of Stanardized Tests) – Passed the House 3/3; passed the Senate Education and Youth Committee 3/18; pending in the Senate Rules Committee
    Status House Bill 273 – (recess bill) – Passed the House; pending in the Senate Education and Youth Committee

  6. Status of House Bill 425 – The Senate passed HB 425, students who opt out, and it goes to the Governor. A similar bill was vetoed by the Governor last year.
    HB 217, increasing the income tax credits for donations to student scholarship organizations, came out a bit different yesterday. The cap would be raised to $65 million but no automatic increase was included — the sponsor wanted a 10% increase annually to get it to $100 million. The administrative withholding fee for the student scholarship organizations was reduced from 10% to 3%. There was a long debate over this one, especially the decrease in the administrative fee, but it goes on to Senate Rules.
    “Plan B” Becomes The First Priority Act
    The Senate Education & Youth Committee met yesterday to review the latest version of HB 338, the plan to address the lowest performing schools. The role of the turnaround coach has changed from the House version. Third-party specialists play a much larger role. Local boards, in consultation with the turnaround coach, would select a third-party specialist to conduct the diagnostic review rather than the coach leading the effort and perhaps involving a third-party specialist. The back and forth over this is odd since turnaround coaches would be a third-party and presumably be specialists. Not special enough apparently. The coaches are also referred to as “assigned state site liaisons in the school improvement process.”
    The funding question for this has come up repeatedly. This version says: “The local board of education shall not be eligible for supplemental funding to support the implementation of the [intensive school improvement] plan unless such local board demonstrates financial need based on its most current annual budget and the results of the most recent audit. The local board of education shall coordinate the hiring and contract renewal process for personnel and the allocation of school resources to support the plan.” From control and management to coordinating.
    The Education Turnaround Advisory Council was trimmed back down in this version. The Committee amended the substitute bill by naming it “The First Priority Act” and prohibiting the operation of the school by a for profit entity. It got a “Do Pass” and goes on to Senate Rules.
    HB 273, the recess bill; was pulled from the agenda but is expected to be back in Committee on Wednesday.

  7. HB 273, the recess bill was amended before getting a “Do Pass.” It requires recess, encourages an average of 30 minutes per day of unstructured break time, requires local board policies to prohibit withholding recess as a punishment, and ensures the provision is waivable under the current statutes in a flexibility or charter contract. It goes to Senate Rules.