This week in the Legislature: Report from Jim Kainber

April 3, 2009 at 4:35 pm Leave a comment

This week the Senate and House Ways and Means committees are scheduled to vote on our primary focus legislation, HB 2261/SB 6048 in meetings on Friday and Saturday.

The expectation is that both bills will pass through this important committee, given that their two-year expenditure is very low, but we are taking nothing for granted. Our Executive Director Shannon Campion and lobbyist Jim Kainber have spent the last couple days working with committee members to make sure they understand the issues.

Earlier this week Stand for Children presented results of a statewide poll to Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown. The poll was conducted by Davis, Hibbitts and Midghall Inc. between March 19 and 23, 2009 to measure voters’ attitudes on education reform and funding. Read the memo summarizing the results.

While Senator Brown was clearly focused on the Senate budget, which had been publicly released just hours before our meeting, we were encouraged that she was willing to engage in a discussion about public sentiment around key education reforms on such an important day during this session. Other key legislators and the Governor’s staff were briefed on the poll as well.

Many Stand members have asked for more detail about HB 2261/SB 6048, and while we certainly didn’t come close to the sweeping reforms we had hoped for, we feel that passage of these bills would definitely move the state forward during this unprecedented economic time, and lay the groundwork for even more significant enhancements once more revenue is identified. The basic provisions of the bill are:

  • Strengthens definitions, requirements, and financing formulas for a Program of Basic Education and an Instructional Program that the Legislature deems compliant with the State Constitution.
  • Includes within the requirements beginning in 2011-12: expanded minimum instructional hours; instruction for 24 credits for high school graduation; opportunity for students to earn a meaningful high school diploma; full-day kindergarten; and supplemental instruction for students who are underachieving, non-English proficient, highly capable, and in special education.
  • Sets forth financing formulas based on a prototypical school model and using inputs such as class size; types of school staff; central office administration; enhanced allocations for categorical programs; and allocations for maintenance, supplies, and operating costs. This will give transparency to school financing, and allow citizens to know how their local dollars are being spent.
  • Authorizes a new pupil transportation funding formula using a regression analysis to allocate funds, phased-in beginning in the 2011-12 school year. This may not sound like a big issue, but if the state pays a bigger share, this will free up levy dollars for local enhancements.
  • Creates three technical working groups to continue development of policies and formulas, prepare an implementation schedule to phase-in increased program requirements and funding, propose options for a system of compensation that supports effective teaching and options for a local funding system for levies and levy equalization, develop a Program of Early Learning, and recommend strategies to close the achievement gap.
  • Directs the State Board of Education to continue developing a voluntary system of continuous school improvement and seek approval for use of the system for purposes of federal accountability. Creates a Basic Education Steering Committee to oversee the working groups, monitor overall implementation, and report to the Legislature.

We are also very hopeful that the statewide student/teacher data system will be adopted, either as an amendment to these bills, or as SB 5941, which has made it out of the House Education Committee and waiting to be heard in Ways and Means.

HB 2003 regarding the Professional Educators Standards Board has been scheduled for a floor vote in the Senate, and that is a very positive sign.

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Entry filed under: News Updates.

First round of federal stimulus dollars available for education Urge the governor and legislature to pass education reform this session!

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