Virtual School Meanderings

March 28, 2016

GAEL Capitol Opinion March 25, 2016 Sine Die Edition

More on Georgia HB100 (see

The GAEL Capitol Opinion
Sine Die Edition

March 25, 2016
Good Friday at Last!
After midnight last evening one of the most emotion filled sessions of the Georgia General Assembly came to a fluttering end.   Two of the major emotional issues were religious freedom and campus gun carry. Religious freedom as HB 757 was amended and passed both House and Senate and now rests with the Governor. The Governor has until May 6 to veto, sign, or allow the bill to become law. No one knows how much longer the media circus will continue before the Governor acts. Of equal emotional merit is HB 859, the campus gun carry bill that is to the Governor as well. He strongly suggested that the General Assembly “fix” the bill but the legislators wanted no part of that. The legislature also approved the stun gun bill, HB 792, very late last night.
For educators it was a nail bitter down to the end to make sure the Senate approved the House changes to SB 364, the TKES/LKES/Testing bill. They agreed on Day 40 after 9:00 PM. The bill exited the General Assembly in the same format that has been reported to you previously. It lowers TKES to 30%, LKES to 40% student growth; requires 90% student attendance to be counted in the student growth calculation; reduces the number of mandated tests and makes SLOs local instruments; and finally places significant emphasis on K-5 literacy and math. There were only two votes against the bill in its entire travel through the General Assembly, Sen. Josh McKoon from Columbus and Sen. Mike Crane from Newnan. It now goes to the Governor.
FY 2017 Budget
Perhaps the most important news was the passage of the FY 2017 Budget. There were few changes in the conference committee’s budget from that which left the Senate last week. The highlights of the Budget are:
  1. $300 Million to reduce the austerity reduction, leaving $150 Million on the austerity plate. The Governor has indicated that teachers are to receive a 3% pay raise from that money but it is up to local systems as to how they do they that and it may show up as furlough day reduction, bonuses, or supplements. There is no adjustment to the state salary schedule and there is no explicit guarantee of the same money for next year but based on current revenues that should not be an issue.
  2. $222 Million in bonds for capital outlay.
  3. $124 Million for T&E and enrollment growth.
  4. $29.4 Million for Move on When Ready growth.
  5. $8 Million in bonds for career and technical equipment.
  6. $8 Million for the State Charter School Commission supplement.
  7. $3.2 Million for information technology supporting local school systems.
  8. $3 Million for charter system grants.
  9. $2.5 Million for film and AV grants for middle and high schools.
  10. $300,000 for PBIS personnel employed by RESAs.
  11.  3% raises for lunchroom workers, bus drivers, nurses, and RESA personnel.
Thanks to our friend Angela Palm from GSBA for her budget synopsis.
Last Minute Deals
One of the most frustrating events every year in the General Assembly is to watch the last minute deals in the form of bills added to other bills, bills being completely rewritten, and amendments to bills added from the floor as another bill that  is being considered-but alas that is the way they do business under the Gold Dome.   This year saw Sen. William Ligon attempt to get his two bills, SB 310 and SB 355, attached to House bills but the House rejected the opt out bill, SB 855 and we believe that the Senate approved the bill without the Ligon amendment. Of note is that neither bill was considered on its own merits by the full House. Sometimes it works for the good. Rep. Tom Dickson stripped all of the language out of HB 100, the kindergarten starting age bill which passed the House last year, and replaced it with legislation that deals with virtual school instruction being offered by school systems to out of school students. It too was adopted in its highly amended version. There was NONE of the kindergarten start age language left in HB 100.
The Bills Which Passed
Listed below are the bill which we believe passed. The final version will not be available until next week when we determine what actually passed and in what form. A few years ago a bill passed at 11:45 PM and when the House voted on the measure there were three different versions of the bill on the floor and it was not until a week later that the Speaker, the author, and the House Clerk were able to determine exactly which version passed.
Just because a bill is shown as adopted does not mean that it is on its way to the Governor. Very frequently one chamber makes changes to the other chamber’s bills and then those bills have to return to the originating chamber for Agree/Disagree votes, many of which take place on Days 39 and 40 amid the ending fury. If the chambers disagree a Conference Committee is then appointed to resolve the differences and the Conference Committee report must be approved by both chambers. That is why it takes a week to make sure of what was truly adopted. You will get that report next Friday.
2016 BILLS
CHMB
#
CURRENT STATUS
HB
65
Requires two budget hearings each year
ADOPTED
HB
100
QBE funds earned for out of district virtual learning must be spend on v.l.
ADOPTED
HB
614
Pilot program to put video cameras in special needs classrooms
ADOPTED
HB
659
Requires system financial disclosures on website + SB 374 + SB 310
ADOPTED
HB
739
Review process state/local for instructional materials
ADOPTED
HB
777
Permit school bus drivers to use cell phones as radio
ADOPTED
HB
798
Home schooler must score 1350 on SAT to have Zell Miller HOPE
ADOPTED
HB
801
HOPE revision, includes computer science as optional rigor
ADOPTED
HB
879
Biliteracy seal for proficiency in foreign language
ADOPTED
HB
895
Training for finance officers; charter school head cannot be finance officer
ADOPTED
HB
959
Title 20 cleanup; dual enrollees exempt from EOCT; SB 329; SB 348
ADOPTED
HR
1253
Encourage dugout safety instruction
ADOPTED
HR
1342
Request more time for recess
ADOPTED
HR
1564
Encourage sudden cardiac arrest training for athletics
ADOPTED
SENATE BILLS
SB
263
Retiring police officers retain weapon and badge (SRO)
ADOPTED
SB
275
Local government (BOE) may not restrict freedom of speech
ADOPTED
SB
302
Require health care providers to provide electronic/printed directories
ADOPTED
SB
309
Prevents GHSA from limiting religious expression; cross scrimmages
ADOPTED
SB
310
GADOE may not get grant unless approved by legislature Added to HB 659
ADOPTED
SB
329
Expands rules for dual enrollment, MOWR, career academy grants
ADOPTED
SB
335
Allow retirement systems to invest in commingled and collective funds
ADOPTED
SB
348
Eases Strategic Waiver systems path to Career Academies and grants
ADOPTED
SB
355
Sets opt out provisions for testing
Failed to pass
SB
367
Clarifies Freedom of Speech for BOE members Added to HB 659
ADOPTED
SB
364
Reduces TKES from 50 to 30%; sets testing K-12
ADOPTED
SB
367
Criminal justice reform; requires training for tribunals
ADOPTED
SB
374
Exemption for certain financial reports for pilot Title I programs (HB 659)
ADOPTED
SR
723
Encourage BOEs to guarantee sport safety
ADOPTED
If you have questions about any of the above bills or any others related to education, please do not hesitate to contact me at jstokes@gael.org or
Sine Die!
The Capitol Opinion will be published each Friday of the 2016 General Assembly.  If you have specific questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me at jstokes@gael.org or770-601-3798.  The Capitol Opinion is authored by Jimmy C. Stokes and is not the official position of GAEL or any of its affiliates.

GAEL, P.O.Box 6445, Athens, GA 30622

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