WCS Legislation Watch

The WCS Legislative Committee (Rick Wimberly-Chair, Susan Curlee, Candy Emerson-absent) met on Friday, February 6. They narrowed down 41 education bills to 15 for continued tracking. Six of the 15 are designated as priority bills for WCS.

If you feel strongly about any of these bills, please write to the school board and the legislators and share your thoughts. Remember that you can use Williamson Strong’s user-friendly Roar application to email the school board, Dr. Looney and our Williamson County legislative delegation (Senator Jack Johnson and Reps. Glen Casada, Jeremy Durham, and Charles Sargent).

Contact information for other legislators can be found in the Senate directory and the House directory.

A LIST

SB5 / HB3 Volunteer state standards for K-12 education.

Sponsors:              Sen. Jim Tracy / Rep. John Forgety. Co-sponsored by Johnson, Casada, Sargent.

Description:         Establishes the volunteer state standards. Requires the state board of education to adopt new educational standards for grades K-12 before July 1, 2016. Requires the state board to recruit and select Tennessee public school teachers and faculty from higher education institutions to propose new state educational standards for English and Mathematics. Establishes that the standards review and development committee and advisory teams be comprised of Tennessee teachers, higher education faculty members, and parents of school children. Requires the state board to report its finding before the education committees of the house and senate for review before March 31, 2016.

SB122 / HB210 Tennessee Choice and Opportunity Scholarship Act.

Sponsors:              Sen. Brian K. Kelsey / Rep. Harry Brooks. Co-sponsored by Johnson.

Description:         Establishes a scholarship program for eligible students to attend participating private K-12 schools. An “eligible student” is a student who: (1) Resides in Tennessee and is zoned to attend or enrolled in a public school that is identified as being in the bottom five percent of schools in overall achievement; (2) Meets the minimum age requirements to attend kindergarten with eligibility extending until the student graduates from high school, except that the student must be less than 22 years of age by August 15 of each year; (3) Is a member of a household whose annual income during the year prior to initial receipt of a scholarship met the requirements for free or reduced price lunch; and (4) Was previously enrolled in a Tennessee public school during the two semesters preceding the semester in which the student receives the scholarship, is enrolling in a Tennessee school for the first time, or received a scholarship pursuant to this bill in the previous school year.

Includes a clause that would allow vouchers in any district, regardless of performance.

Supplemental Information:

Why are we even talking about vouchers in Williamson County? The $319 million question

Vouchers and Williamson County

Vouchers are Privatization

2012 WCS Resolution against Vouchers

Dr. Mike Looney on Vouchers

SB155 / HB116 BEP funding formula – medical insurance premiums for local employees.

Sponsors:              Sen. Doug Overbey / Rep. Bob Ramsey

Description:         Requires the BEP funding formula to provide funding for 12 months of local education employees’ medical insurance premiums.

SB183 / HB158 Little Hatch Act – public school employees.

Sponsors:              Sen. Joey Hensley / Rep. Glen Casada

Description:         Makes the “Little Hatch Act” applicable to teachers. Defines “teacher” as any person employed in a public school system as a teacher, helping teacher, teacher’s aide, librarian, principal, supervisor, director of schools, or member of the administrative staff. Prohibits a teacher from displaying campaign literature, banners, stickers or other political advertising on the premises of any building or land owned by an LEA.

Supplemental Information:

Tennessee Little Hatch Act

WCS Policy

Williamson Strong post and Home Page article

SB340 / HB267 Allows local school boards to shift funds between budget categories.

Sponsors:              Sen. Dolores R. Gresham / Rep. Jim Coley

Description:         Authorizes local school boards to shift funds after the local legislative body has approved the school system’s budget from one budget category to another without further approval, except for funds specifically appropriated for repair and renovation of school facilities or capital improvements. Requires the local legislative body to be notified of any proposed vote to shift funds ten days prior to a vote for the proposal. Prohibits any such changes to a budget that would violate the requirements of the BEP or other state concerning the funding of education. Broadly Captioned.

SJR80 Opposition to a national school board.

Sponsors:              Sen. Bill Ketron. Co-sponsored by Johnson.

Description:         Urges opposition to a national school board and supports passage of the Every Child Ready for College or Career Act.

B LIST

SB7 / HB6 Deadline for Basic Education Program funding.

Sponsors:              Sen. Becky Duncan Massey / Rep. Harry Brooks

Description:         Requires the fiscal capacity of each LEA, for the purposes of allocating BEP funding, to be determined by May 1 of the preceding school year. Prohibits the changing or revising of the fiscal capacity once the LEA has determined it.

SB8 / HB5 Teacher reemployment after retirement.

Sponsors:              Sen. Becky Duncan Massey / Rep. Harry Brooks

Description:         Creates an exception permitting a retired high school teacher, whose license has lapsed, to teach for one year without loss of retirement benefits if: 1) the teacher was previously licensed as a high school teacher, 2) the LEA allowed the member’s professional license to lapse, and 3) the teacher teaches a subject in which the teacher was licensed. Requires the teacher to meet all other statutory conditions for reemployment as a teacher after retirement. Requires the teacher to renew the member’s professional license or certificate if the teacher seeks any additional years after the one year appointment period.

SB10 / HB10 U.S. citizenship test requirement for high school graduation.

Sponsors:              Sen. Mark S. Norris / Rep. Gerald McCormick

Description:         Requires that students pass the United States citizenship and immigration services’ civics test with a score of at least 60 percent in order to receive a regular high school diploma.

SB27 / HB138 Individualized Education Act.

Sponsors:              Sen. Dolores R. Gresham / Rep. Debra Moody

Description:         Enacts the “Individualized Education Act” for eligible special needs students, whereby funds will be provided for them to be educated at nonpublic schools. Provides that a parent of an eligible student will qualify to participate in the individualized education account (IEA) program if the parent signs an agreement promising to provide an education for the qualified student in at least the subjects of reading, grammar, mathematics, social studies and science; and not to enroll the student in a public school and to release the LEA in which the student resides from all obligations to educate the student.

SB29 / HB37 Prohibited restraints in special education services.

Sponsors                Sen. Joey Hensley / Rep. Bill Dunn

Description           Prohibits the use of prone restraint on students receiving special education. Defines prone restraint as “restraint in which a student is held face down on the floor or other surface, and physical pressure is applied to the student’s body for the purpose of controlling the student’s movement.”

SB149 / HB173 Carrying weapons on certain properties used by schools.

Sponsors:              Sen. Mark Green / Rep. Debra Moody

Description:         Removes provision making it illegal to possess a firearm on property used, but not owned or operated, by a school for the administration of any public or private educational institution.

SB182 / HB174 Director of schools – authorization to expel for criminal complaint.

Sponsors:              Sen. Joey Hensley / Rep. Sheila Butt

Description:         Authorizes the director of schools to expel or remand a student to an alternative school upon the issuance of a criminal complaint charging a student with a felony or upon the issuance of a felony delinquency complaint against the student. Requires the director of schools to expel a student upon the conviction of a felony or an admission of guilt to that felony delinquency against the student, if the director determines the student’s continued presence would have a substantial detrimental effect on the school. Establishes the notice, hearing, and appeal requirements for students expelled or remanded to an alternative school. Specifies that this act does not require an LEA to enroll a student who is expelled or remanded in an LEA in this state or another.

SB343 / HB398 Extends date of repeal – Virtual Public Schools Act.

Sponsors                Sen. Dolores R. Gresham / Rep. Harry Brooks

Description           Extends the date of the repeal of the Virtual Public Schools Act from June 30, 2015, to June 30, 2019.

SB398 / HB266 Automatic suspension for student committing felony.

Sponsors:              Sen. Joey Hensley / Rep. Sheila Butt

Description:         Provides that students adjudicated delinquent for conduct or an act that would constitute a felony if committed by an adult are to be automatically suspended from school. Specifies procedure and requirements for readmission to school. Provides that student not meeting criteria for readmission to school is expelled from school for one year.