Category Archives: Legislation

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.

Plan B – Legislation For Chronically Failing Schools

There are over 100 schools across the state identified as chronically failing.  Governor Deal’s plan to address these chronically failing schools with the Opportunity School District (OSD) referendum was voted down by the public last November.
Plan B, otherwise known now as House Bill 338 (HB 338), is being billed as a collaborative effort with the Governor’s office, legislators from both parties, and various interest groups to address these schools.

SACS Kicked Out Of Georgia? – Part of this bill also includes creating a joint study committee to look into establishing a state accreditation process for public schools and school systems.
The committee will also consider the possible consequences of losing state accreditation that could be administered, such as removal of local board of education members.

Chief Turnaround Officer (CTO)
A Chief Turnaround Officer (CTO) would be appointed by the State Board and report directly to them. The CTO will recommend “Turnaround Coaches” to assist schools identified as in the greatest need of help with ongoing assistance and input.
Turnaround Coaches
Turnaround Coaches wil assist in creating local collaborations to address personal and community conditions, which shall include the needs, issues, and problems within the communities of such school or schools, such as poverty, lack of economic development, safety, transportation options for parents and students, adult educational opportunities, wellness, and mental health services and shall assist in identifying state and community resources that are available or that could be built upon, reallocated, or repurposed to address the issues impacting such school or schools.
Which Schools?
The Chief Turnaround Officer shall annually identify the low-performing schools that are in the greatest need of assistance based on the number of years such schools have received an unacceptable rating and any other factors deemed appropriate by the Chief Turnaround Officer. The number of schools identified annually shall be at the sole discretion of the Chief Turnaround Officer, based on the capacity and resources available to the Chief Turnaround Officer.
Plan C
If after two years of implementing the plan, the school is not improving, as determined by the Chief Turnaround Officer, the Chief Turnaround Officer shall require that one or more ofthe following interventions be implemented at the school, taking into consideration the ongoing cooperation and collaboration exhibited by the school:

  1. Give it some more time on the same plan
  2. Appoint a school master or management team to oversee and direct the duties of the principal of the school
  3. Removal of school house personnel
  4. Implementation of a state charter school
  5. Remove all personnel and reconstitute the school
  6. Mandatory parental option to relocate students to another public school in the school district
  7. Restructure the school’s governance arrangement
  8. Change governance of school to another school district
  9. Change governance of school to a private non profit entity
  10. Any other interventions or requirements deemed appropriate by the Chief Turnaround Officer and the State Board of Education for the school.

Removal of Local School Board
If One-half or more of the schools in a local school system have received an unacceptable rating, as defined by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA), for the fifth or more consecutive year, the State Board of Education will conduct a hearing and recommend to the Governor whether to suspend all eligible members of the local board of education.

Remove Central Office? – Note this bill currently allows for the CTO to remove the Board of Education and anybody in the school house. Apparently the central office is untouchable. While the Superintendent and senior administrators are most responsible for the performance of the schools and district, superintendents across the state wouldn’t let this bill pass if their jobs were on the line.
State Superintendent Richard Woods’ thougths? – The state legislature is working with everybody and their dog on this bill … except for the State Super and the GA DOE.
According to the AJC, Richard Woods is not taking a position on the bill yet. A spokesman said he will comment eventually, but needs time to review it. “He looks forward to working with the legislature and Gov. Deal on a bill that appropriately addresses improving under-performing schools,” the spokesman said.