Legislative Update 1/29

The House Education Committee met this afternoon and the agenda included a presentation by Amy Williamson of the DE on differentiated accountability systems and attendance center rankings. Initial attendance center rankings data are supposed to be released to the public by the DE tomorrow.

There are five new bills in the House Education Committee:

  • HF 84 by Sheets (R-Appanoose) and six co-sponsors establishing a transportation cost supplement program for school districts, authorizing the imposition of a transportation cost supplement property tax and income surtax. This program is for school districts for which the transportation costs per pupil exceed the state average transportation costs per pupil and appears to be limited to raising funds to cover the difference between actual district transportation costs per pupil and state average transportation costs per pupil. Voters would need to approve participation in the program, and the program would be funded by  either a property tax, and income surtax, or combination of both, as determined by the school board. The funds from the program can only be used by the district to pay for the costs of repairing, maintaining, and fueling school district transportation equipment and school buses. [Subcommittee: Gassman (R-Winnebago), Hanson (D-Jefferson), and Mommsen (R-Clinton).]
  • HF 97 by Jones relating to open enrollment of students in online learning programs. This bill would maintain the exception that allows students to open enroll into CAM or Clayton Ridge community school districts for purposes of participating in online learning programs by striking the repeal provision which would end the exception as of July 1, 2015. [Subcommittee: Jones (R-Clay), Gaines (D-Polk), and Koester (R-Polk).] This bill is the same as SF 4. The Iowa State Education Association and the Iowa Association of School Boards are registered against the bill. Connections Education, which operates the Iowa Connections Academy under CAM Community School District, is registered for the bill. Connections Education currently has four lobbyists registered to represent them in Des Moines. KCRG reported last August that Iowa Connections Academy expected more than 400 K-12 students to be enrolled in the program for the 2014-2015 school year. The Gazette reported last year that the two virtual schools combined enrolled students from 152 school districts during the 2013-2014 school year.
  • HF 105 by R. Taylor (R-Dallas) and forty co-sponsors providing that peace officers and retired peace officers qualify as classroom driver education instructors. This would create an alternate route to authorization by completion of a training program without requiring the peace officer or retired peace officer to complete all other requirements for a regular teaching license. [Subcommittee: Highfill (R-Polk), Hanson (D-Jefferson), and Hanusa (R-Pottawattamie).] The Iowa State Education Association is registered against this bill.
  • HF 108 by Staed (D-Linn) and nineteen co-sponsors relating to the consultant employed by the DE for gifted and talented children programs. The DE is already required to employ such a consultant, this bill would require that consultant to be “entirely dedicated to programs for gifted and talented children.” [Subcommittee: Salmon (R-Black Hawk), Highfill (R-Polk), and Staed (D-Linn).]
  • HSB 95 proposed Committee on Education bill relating to requirements for the enactment of the state percent of growth and the categorical state percent of growth. This bill would change the timeline for enacting the state percent of growth. For budget years beginning July 1 of odd-numbered years, percent growth must be enacted within thirty days of submission of the governor’s budget in that odd-numbered year, and for the budget years beginning July 1 of even-numbered years, percent growth must be enacted during the legislative session preceding the base year. This bill was assigned to committee yesterday, passed out of subcommittee today, and is scheduled to be considered at the next House Education Committee meeting on Monday, February 2nd.

Also scheduled to be considered at the next House Education Committee meeting are HSB 38 and HSB 18. These bills relate to costs of the statewide preschool program and payment of costs for educational services for children residing in certain psychiatric hospitals or institutions.