On Monday, the House held a public Hearing for three hours, at the McKimmon Center, on the State Budget. Most of the speakers addressed education and health care funding, which are the two largest sections of the budget.
The House Education Appropriations subcommittee met on Tuesday to roll out their proposed budget. The spreadsheet was sent to you Tuesday night. On Wednesday, there were Health Committee meetings and the House debated SB704 “Reform Low-Performing Schools.” The Governor had decided she needed this bill in part to help the State with their Race to the Top application. The bill allows the State Board to identify “continually low-performing schools” (two years out of three) and give the local board of education an option to address the school with four different strategies. Options include, everything from new staff to conversion to a charter school run by the school system. Presently, there are 135 schools that could be deemed “continually low-performing” and be subject to any of the changes included in the bill. There were several amendments and a lengthy debate, but the bill finally passed and was sent to the Senate. The House Republicans balked at the bill because they tried to amend it to increase the cap on Charter Schools, but did not have the votes to pass the amendment. The Senate received the bill back and with time running out and they had to meet in Education Committee on Thursday after they had convened the Senate and recessed. They came back into Session at least two more times, before they were able to get the necessary votes to pass the bill and it did pass on a vote of 21-19, but it was not easy.
Meanwhile, the House Appropriations chairs and subcommittee chairs were continuing their late night budget work. On Thursday, the Education Appropriations subcommittee reconvened. We had heard they reduced the K-12 cuts in the earlier version of the House budget and when the documents were handed out that was exactly what they had done. The eliminated cuts in the flowing line items: Assistant Principals, Instructional Personnel, Non-Instructional Personnel, At-Risk Students, Disadvantaged Student Supplemental Fund and reduced the cut to Central Services. There were some other adjustments and they were included in the spreadsheet sent out earlier. They also funded a few items, but all of those were small allotments, with the largest being Textbook Emergency Fund at $5 million and EVAAS at $1 million. The textbook funds were created when an amendment passed to move monies from the Hand-Held Technology line item. The House budget, though still a cut for public schools, is much better than the Senate version. They also reviewed the pages of special provisions. Two interesting provisions the House included were the establishment of a Diversity Commission and the DSSF provision, that requires the State Board to review to what extent the LEAs policies or expenditures contribute to increased segregation of schools on the basis of race or socioeconomic status, prior to releasing the DSSF funds to the LEA. The House Appropriations subcommittee met in the afternoon to take amendments to the education budget bill and there were fifteen amendments, but none had a negative impact to move funds from public schools. The budget bill was given a favorable report by the subcommittee.
The schedule for next week will be Memorial Day, a Holiday, and then more committee meetings. The House Appropriations chairs are now scheduled to meet Wednesday all day and then they will have the bill on the House Floor on Thursday for second reading and third reading on Friday. There will likely be many amendments put forth by Appropriations Committee members on Wednesday so there may be further changes to the House final budget, but the House has done a great job in limiting the cuts to public schools. The Universities are not too pleased, because unlike the Senate where they had a 0.5 percent increase in funding the House cut them 3.46 percent. The Community Colleges received a 3.61 percent funding increase, primarily due to putting their enrollment funds for the current year in the budget rather than funding them a year behind, and public schools were cut 3.93 percent.
In other news this week the Senate Health Committee began moving the child nutrition bills recommended by the Childhood Obesity Commission. There will be more bills coming next week.
HB 1948 Education Oversight Committee to Study School Enrollment Age
HB 1951 Enact Children with Disabilities Tax Credit
HB 1955 Funds for Job and Career-Oriented Youth Organizations
HB 1961 Funds for Public Educational and Governmental Channel Grants
HB 1962 Credit Education Programs/Funds
HB 1968 State Health Plan/Repeal
HB 1971 No Standardized Testing Unless Required by Feds
HB 1974 Professional Leave for School Employees
HB 1986 Childrens’ Online Predator Education Funds
HB 1988 Tax Fairness in Education
HB 2018 Funds for Access to High School Sports
HB 2029 Amend Tenure Law Regarding Teachers Reduction in Force
HB 2035 Deaf Student’s Bill of Rights
SB 1358 School Calendar Flexibility/Inclement Weather
SB 1363 Professional Leave for School Employees
SB 1364 Teacher Assistant Salary Schedule
SB 1370 School Calendar Flexibility/Inclement Weather
SB 1375 Kids Voting Funds
SB 1377 School Bus Railroad Crossing Exception
SB 1392 State Health Plan/Court Ordered Guardianships
SB 1396 Funds for Low-Cost Green Tech Education
SB 1417 Study Graduation Disparity
SB 1423 State Health Plan/Local Gov’t Retiree Contribution
SB 1430 Government Entity Sales Tax Refund Modification
SB 1450 State Retirement Age and Service Change
HB 1682 Ban Corporal Punishment for Children w/Disabilities Favorable Report and sent to the Senate.
HB 1683 Amend Sunset/Children W/Disabilities Favorable Report and sent to the Senate.
HB 1700 Career Academy as Cooperative Innovative High School Favorable Report and sent to the Senate.
SB 1022 Comparative Effectiveness Task Force Favorable Report to Proposed Committee Substitute renamed School Calendar Flexibility/Inclement Weather that allows three western counties for 2009-2010 to complete either 180 days or 1,000 instructional hours in completing their calendar.
Health Committee Appropriations
HB 1707 SHP/Age-Out Dependents; Tobacco Use Testing Favorable Report
Health Committee: CANCELLED
HB 1756 Update Statewide Nutrition Standards
HB 1757 Physical Education and Activity in Schools
Local Government Committee
HB 1667 Davie School Board Favorable Report
SB 704 Reform Low-Performing Schools Passed Second and Third reading with one amendment and sent to the Senate.
SB 1022 School Calendar Flexibility/Inclement Weather Passed second and third reading with one amendment that added 8 additional counties to the list of those eligible to meet the hours or days requirement in the calendar for 2009-2010 only, and sent to the Senate.
HB 1707 State Health Plan/Age-Out Dependents; Tobacco Use Testing Passed second and third reading and sent to the Senate
HB 1683 Amend Sunset/Children With Disabilities Passed Second and third readings and sent to the Senate.
SB 1151 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Favorable Report
SB 1152 Study Child Nutrition Program Favorable Report to Proposed Committee Substitute
SB 1153 Legislative Task Force on Childhood Obesity Favorable Report
SB 704 Reform Low-Performing Schools Concurred in House Committee Substitute and sent to the Governor.
SB 1151 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Passed second and third reading and sent to the House.
SB 1152 Study Child Nutrition Program Passed second and third reading and sent to the House.
SB 1153 Legislative Task Force on Childhood Obesity Passed second and third reading and sent to the House.
What’s Coming Next Week
SB 1286 Screen and Reduce BMI
HB 1669 Require Use EVAAS in Schools
HB 1676 Substitute Teacher Unemployment
HB 1725 School Support Divisions Changes
HB 1777 Study Child Nutrition Program
HB 1781 Study/Early Childhood Education and Care
HB 1864 No High School Graduation Project Required
SB 66 Require Arts Education Credit for Graduation.