Friday, April 3rd marked the 40th and final day of the 2009 legislative session. Legislators, lobbyists, and advocates waited patiently throughout the day, as important legislation impacting education and state funding wasn’t brought to the floor until the wee hours of the night.
We were under the Gold Dome until the clock struck midnight, witnessing the passing, failure, and death of many measures that would impact the state and citizens of Georgia.
Below is a summary of hot topics in education out of the 868 House Bills and 291 Senate Bills that were introduced this session. Let us know if you need additional information on these bills or if you would like to know more about an issue not included in this summary.
FY 2010 BUDGET
The House and Senate adopted the conference committee report on the FY 10 budget with only hours to spare. Though cuts to the state budget were extreme in some cases, legislators made it clear that there are no teacher furloughs in the FY 10 budget. Impacted categories in the budget include
- National Board Certification – Funds to provide NBC teachers were cut from $12 million to $7 million. This figure was based on the Senate’s proposal (see HB 243 below) that the state pay the 10% salary supplement on the base teacher salary. We will have to watch this line item to see if the legislature will increase funds in the supplemental budget to pay teachers their full 10%, which will take place next session (Jan. – Apr. 2010). We also need to keep our eye on these funds in the FY 10 budget, as the Governor has the ability to line item veto specific items in the budget.
- Classroom Cards – Funds for Governor Perdue’s $100 classroom card program were completely eliminated.
- School Nurses – Funding for the school nurse program was restored, less a 3% cut. Funds for the program total $29.1 million.
HB 149 – Rep. Jan Jones (R-Alpharetta) – “Move on When Ready Act”
Passing on March 25th, HB 149 allows 11th and 12th grade students to “Move on When Ready” by attending postsecondary colleges to earn college credit; if funds are appropriated, tuition will be paid with QBE funds. This bill is waiting for the Governor’s signature.
HB 193 – Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ranger) – School Year Flexibility
HB 193 allows the State Board of Education to develop guidelines that would convert the required 180 instructional days into the equivalent in hours. Though it is not the intent of this legislation, a potential outcome could be a 4-day school week. This legislation would allow local school systems to set their school calendars based on 180 days or the equivalent in hours. Amendments to this legislation include provisions for 1) closing on Veterans Day and 2) disruptions occurring at a public school, on a public school bus, or bus stop. To view the bill as passed by the Senate and agreed to by the House, CLICK HERE.
HB 229 – Rep. Brooks Coleman (R-Duluth) – “Student Health and Physical Education Act”
The SHAPE Act requires local systems to conduct annual fitness assessments once a year, beginning in the 2011-2012 school year, to students in grades 1 – 12 who are enrolled in a PE course. To review the version of this bill that was sent to the Governor on March 19th, CLICK HERE.
HB 243 – Rep. Jimmy Pruett (R-Eastman) – National Board Certification Salary Incentive
HB 243, legislation that grandfathers in NBC teachers who are currently receiving the salary increase and those in the pipeline as of 3/1/09, passed at 11:19 p.m. Friday. The Senate amended this legislation to coincide with the amount of funds they appropriated for the program in the FY10 budget, calculating the 10% on the base starting salary schedule. On the last night of the session, after the House disagreed with this amendment, the Senate receded from their version of the bill, allowing the bill to pass in the original version passed by the House on March 12th. HB 243 is in the hands of the Governor.
HB 251 – Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan (D-Austell) – Public School Choice
In the final days of the session, HB 251 was amended to include Sen. Johnson’s voucher legislation (see SB 90). In the last hour of Day 40, the House and Senate agreed to take Sen. Johnson’s language out of the bill, returning to its original form which allows students to attend any school within their local system as long as the accepting school has classroom space available. Additionally, parents will be required to transport their student to the accepting school. CLICK HERE to review the passed version of the bill.
HB 278 PASSES IN SB 178 – Rep. Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City) – Expenditure Control Waivers
SB 178, a bill that was originally intended to extend the capitol outlay program, was amended to include the expenditure control waivers (direct instructional, media center, and staff and professional development costs) for the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 school years. This legislation passed and is now in the hands of the Governor. You can review the conference committee report HERE (waiver language is under Section 8).
HB 280 – Rep. Brooks Coleman – Math & Science Teacher Salary Incentive
HB 280, legislation that would provide accelerated steps in the state salary schedule for PSC certified math and science teachers, a $1,000.00 stipend for kindergarten or elementary school teachers who receive PSC endorsements for math or science, and an effective date of July 1, 2010, is in the hands of the Governor.
HB 282 – Rep. Brooks Coleman – Master Teacher Salary Supplement
HB 282 did not move at all this session, primarily due to the problems surrounding the Governor’s legislation to eliminate the NBC salary incentive (see HB 243). This bill would provide for criteria for the “Distinguished Teacher Leader Certification,” a 10% salary supplement for teachers who receive the Georgia Master Teacher Certification, and a 15% salary supplement to those who receive the Distinguished Teacher Leader Certification.
HB 400 – Rep. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody) – “The BRIDGE Act”
HB 400 did not move out of the Senate Education Committee, however the bill was attached to SB 178, which passed on the final day of the session. The “Building Resourceful Individuals to Develop Georgia’s Economy” legislation provides for programs for students at risk of dropping out of high school, exemptions from certain portions of the high school graduation test and end-of-course assessments, requires eighth graders to select a preferred focused program of study and develop an individual graduation plan, and more. CLICK HERE to read more about the BRIDGE Act under “Part 16” of the bill.
HB 455 – Rep. Jan Neal (R-LaFayette) – Contract Deadline Extension
On the final night of the session, the House agreed to the Senate version of HB 455 which 1) extends the contract deadline from April 15 to May 15 for the 2009-2010 school year, 2) removes sunset provisions for the Master Teacher program, and 3) allows teachers obtaining leadership certificates to receive a salary supplement only if they are employed in a leadership position, grandfathering in those already receiving the salary incentive. The Governor signed HB 455 into law on April 6th.
SB 90 – Sen. Eric Johnson (R-Savannah) – School Choice Vouchers
Senator Johnson’s voucher legislation to allow families to transfer their children within and outside their school district did not pass this year. There were several failed attempts to attach parts of the language from SB 90 to other bills, including HB 251 by Rep. Morgan. Many interest groups lobbied against the bill, especially when it was proposed that state and local tax dollars would follow students outside the local district.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
The Governor has until May 13th to sign or veto legislation that passed this session. Legislation not signed or vetoed will automatically become law on May 13th.
We will continue to monitor the budget and legislation that passed this session through May 13th. In addition, there will be House and Senate study committees to attend over the summer and fall, and there have been rumors that there will be a special session later this year due to the continuing decline in state revenues. We will forward important information to you as soon as it is made available to us. Until then…
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