20 Legislative Days Completed 

This week's items of interest:

  • The House passed its version of the FY2018 Budget (HB 44) on Friday (today)
  • The Department of Education is to provide a report to the Governor and General Assembly by July 1, 2017, on the status of the state's school bus fleet, including a sustainable replenishment model
  • $125,000 was shifted to fund a state program manager for the education component of Residential Treatment Facilities
  • Reducing the assessments under last year's SB 364 saved $1.5 million
  • $1.5 million was transferred from the Department's testing budget to the Office of Student Achievement to fund one AP STEM exam for every student taking one of those courses ($1.2 million in existing innovation grant funds are to be added to the $1.5 million to fund this)
  • The Office of Student Achievement is to continue to provide $600,000 in grants to local school districts to increase participation and achievement in AP STEM courses
  • The House Education Committee held a hearing on HB 338, Governor Deal's Plan B, details below.
Plan B: HB 338
(In response to the  Opportunity School District plan)
Education stakeholders testified before the Education Committee on Thursday for three hours, suggesting changes and improvements to HB 338; including bringing the the CTO into the structure of the Education Department and requesting clarification of language around what exactly makes a school eligible. A substitute bill is expected to be drawn up and voted on next week. The original framework is below:
  • A Chief Turnaround Officer (CTO) would be appointed by the State Board and report directly to them.
  • The CTO will recommend personnel to serve as turnaround coaches for State Board approval. 
  • Coaches will be assigned to one or more schools and shall assist in creating local collaborations to address personal and community conditions impacting student achievement.
  • The schools will be identified based on the number of years they have received "an unacceptable rating and any other factors deemed appropriate by the Chief Turnaround Officer." 
  • Local boards can amend their flexibility contracts to agree to receive assistance from the state.  Otherwise, the State Board has up to 60 days to implement one or more of the interventions in current law.
  • Local boards that have no flexibility contract can sign an intervention contract to agree to receive assistance or the State Board will immediately implement one or more of the interventions in current law.
  • Within 90 days of entering into the contract, a turnaround coach, RESA personnel, and possibly a third party provider shall conduct a comprehensive evaluation, make recommendations, and help develop an intensive school improvement plan.
  • After 2 years, if the school is not improving, there are ten possible interventions including continuing the implementation of the plan.
  • Before the implementation of any intervention, the local board can request a hearing before the State Board to show why the proposed intervention should not be implemented or that an alternative is better.
  • An Education Turnaround Advisory Council would report to the State Board their recommendations on the qualifications and method of identifying and selecting the CTO.  They could also submit names of potential candidates for CTO and turnaround coaches. The Council would be made up of the executive directors or their designee(s) of GSBA, GSSA, PAGE, GAE, and the President of Georgia PTA.
  • A Joint Study Committee on the Establishment of a State Accreditation Process is also created in the bill.  The Committee shall also consider the possibility of establishing a school board review commission.
  • After five or more consecutive years of one-half or more of a district's schools receiving an unacceptable rating, the school board can be removed using the same procedures as are currently in place using the accreditation status as the trigger.  If the local board is under a contract amendment or intervention contract and is in substantial compliance with the contract, this is stayed. 
Key Education Legislation:
Click any number below to read the entire bill. 
New actions in red. 
HB 26:   Raise Mandatory Education Age from 16 to 17 

HB 28: Lead Contamination Testing in Public and Private Schools 
In House Education Committee. 

HB 32: Prohibit Sexual Contact Between School Employees & Students 
In House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. 

HB 37  Sanctuary Policies. Private post secondary institutions shall not adopt sanctuary policies.  In House Education Committee.

 HB 65: Low THC Oil Patient Registry 
In the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. Would establish a registry for low THC oil patients. Redefines "low THC" from 3% to 5%.

HB 77: Mental Health Training Materials  In House Education Committee. Relating to student health in elementary and secondary education, so as to provide for the development of a list of training materials in mental health, behavioral disabilities, and learning disabilities; to provide that no cause of action is created; to provide that no duty of care is created. 

HB 139: Financial Transparency in Schools  Passed House on Wednesday; now in Senate. So as to provide transparency of financial information of local school systems and schools to the greatest extent practicable.

HB 198: Flu Vaccine. Passed House; moves on to Senate. Requires local districts to provide info re the influenza vaccine.

HB 200: Sunscreen. Would authorize students to carry and self-administer sunscreen (and require a local board policy) because "the General Assembly hereby finds and declares that many children in Georgia are exposed to excessive ultraviolet radiation because school policies prevent the use of sunscreen at school and in school sponsored activities." 

HB 273: Recess In House Education Committee. Requiring each local board to schedule a daily recess for students in grades K-5 of at least 30 minutes of supervised, unstructured activity time, preferably outdoors beginning with the 2017-18 school year.  Local boards shall also establish policies to ensure recess is a safe experience, provides a break in academic learning, and that recess is not used as a punishment. 

HB 280: Campus Carry. Passed sub-committee Thursday, now goes to the full Public Safety committee. Would allow permit-holding Georgians, age 21 and up, to carry weapons on college campuses.  The bill exempts  athletic facilities and student housing.  This year's version adds an exemption for preschool space but "shall not apply if (the campus) has more than one building on the campus housing preschool space."

HR 57:  Establishes study committee on school nutrition; attempts to undo nutritional guidelines already in place; also attempts to get more GA produce in schools (20% of produce used in schools from GA farms)

SB 3Creating Opportunities Needed Now to Expand Credentialed Training (CONNECT) Act
Passed Education committee on Wednesday; now moves to Senate floor. To provide for industry credentialing for students who complete certain focused programs of study.

SB 16: Low THC Oil 
Passed the Senate on Thursday.  Changes the definition of "low" to 3% instead of 5%. Relating to the regulation of low THC oil and the establishment of the Low THC Oil Patient Registry, add autism to the list of disorders it can be used to treat. 

SB 29: Require testing for lead contamination in child care learning centers 
In Senate Health. 

SB 77: Raise Mandatory Education Age (Sen. Vincent Fort)
Senate Education & Youth. Would raise age of mandatory education from 16 to 17. 

SB 149: GA Peace Officers. Standards and code of conduct for school peace officers. In Senate Education.

SB 150: Loitering at or Disrupting Schools; code of conduct for peace officers and school officials; least coercive methods necessary. In Senate Education

SB 151: Local Boards & Civil Actions. Provides that local school boards can use public funds for fees related to civil actions. In Senate Education. 

SB 152: Alternative Education No More Than Two Semesters. In Senate Education. 

Volunteer at the Capitol for GLA's Library Print Distribution Day
Tuesday, February 21st
Beginning at 10:30 AM

Each year, the Georgia Library Association presents  legislators with a print created by pointillist artist Debi Davis that highlights a Georgia location. It's a great chance to talk libraries at the Capitol.

GLA will be be delivering one print to the office of each elected official on Tuesday, February 21st. In addition to the 236 representatives and senators, there are other officers in the Capitol (Secretary of State, Secretary of the Senate, the Governor's Office, etc.) who will also be getting prints. 

Volunteers will meet at 10:30 AM, and should be done by noon. The more volunteers, the faster it goes!  

If you would like to help out, please contact Wendy Cornelisen, GLA's Governmental Relations Chair, by email or phone 404.272.6170

For legislative highlights and review, watch  Lawmakerswhich airs at 
7 PM on GPB
every day the General Assembly is in session. 
You can also watch a live stream of each legislative day's proceedings on the General Assembly website. Go to www.legis.state.ga.us and click the Live Broadcast link on the left. 
Georgia Library Media Association