On Thursday, March 8, 2018, the General Assembly’s Education Committee will conduct a public hearing on the following proposed bills:
- S.B. No. 364 AN ACT CONCERNING SPECIAL EDUCATION FUNDING. This bill would lower the special education “excess cost” grant threshold from four and one-half times to two times the average per pupil educational costs of a board of education.
- H.B. No. 5334 AN ACT CONCERNING NOTIFICATION BY CONTRACTORS TO BOARDS OF EDUCATION REGARDING INCIDENTS OF ARREST OF EMPLOYEES. This bill would require any contractor for a school district to notify in writing the district within 24 hours of when the contractor discovers that one of its employees who is in a position involving direct contact with students has been arrested.
- S.B. No. 359 AN ACT PROHIBITING THE DISAGGREGATION OF STUDENT DATA BY ETHNIC SUBGROUPS IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOL INFORMATION SYSTEM. This bill would prohibit the collection by the State Department of Education for the state-wide public school information system of disaggregated student data on specific ethnic subgroups unless such student data is required by federal law or collected uniformly across the entire population of students.
- H.B. No. 5335 AN ACT CONCERNING THE ALIGNMENT OF THE COORDINATED STATE-WIDE READING PLAN WITH THE STATE’S TWO- GENERATIONAL INITIATIVE. This bill would align the coordinated state-wide reading plan for students in kindergarten to grade three with the state’s “two-generational” initiative.
- S.B. No. 362 AN ACT CONCERNING REMEDIAL INSTRUCTION IN READING. This bill would expand the implementation of existing reading readiness programs to all school districts in the state (as opposed to just “alliance districts” and “commissioner’s network” schools).
- H.B. No. 5336 AN ACT CONCERNING THE FUNDING OF THE STATE EDUCATION RESOURCE CENTER. This bill would require a separate line item for the State Education Resource Center in the budget of the Department of Education.
- S.B. No. 363 AN ACT CONCERNING IMMUNIZATION RECORDS, THE DEFINITION OF CHRONIC ABSENTEEISM AND THE REQUIREMENTS FOR POLICIES AND PROCEDURES CONCERNING TRUANTS. This bill would define “immunization records absences” (i.e., absences caused by the failure of a parent to submit student immunization records) for the purpose of excluding such absences from the calculation of a school district’s chronic absenteeism rate. This bill would also replace the requirement that a school district conduct a meeting with the parent or guardian of a truant student with a mere requirement that “contact” be made with the parent or guardian.
- H.B. No. 5342 AN ACT ESTABLISHING A TASK FORCE TO STUDY BEST PRACTICES REGARDING SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING. This bill would establish a task force to study issues relating to best practices for the promotion of social-emotional learning in schools, with the task force to issue a report on its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly’s Education Committee by January 1, 2019.
- S.B. No. 361 AN ACT CONCERNING INTERDISTRICT COOPERATION AND THE REPORTING REQUIREMENTS OF COOPERATIVE ARRANGEMENTS. This bill would authorize regional educational service centers to enter into agreements with school districts to provide (or share) administrative services; the bill would further permit school districts to use the aggregate expenditure data of the cooperative arrangement as an expenditure of the district for purposes of reporting requirements.
- H.B. No. 5341 AN ACT PROVIDING IMMUNITY FROM LIABILITY FOR SCHOOL BUS DRIVERS WHO MAY ADMINISTER MEDICATION TO A STUDENT. This bill would include school bus drivers in the list of school employees who are protected from liability for administering medication to a student.
- S.B. No. 360 AN ACT ESTABLISHING A TASK FORCE TO STUDY BEST PRACTICES REGARDING RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION. This bill would establish a task force to examine best practices related to the response to intervention approach to the early identification and support of students with learning and behavior needs, with the task force to issue a report on its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly’s Education Committee by January 1, 2019.
- H.B. No. 5340 AN ACT CONCERNING A STUDY OF EDUCATION SAVINGS ACCOUNTS. This bill would require the State Department of Education to conduct a study concerning education savings accounts, and then submit its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly’s Education Committee by January 1, 2019.
- H.B. No. 5337 AN ACT CONCERNING A STUDY OF VIRTUAL CLASSROOMS. This bill would require the State Department of Education to conduct a feasibility study on the use and expansion of virtual learning and distance learning in the state, and then submit its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly’s Education Committee by January 1, 2019.
- S.B. No. 358 AN ACT CONCERNING EDUCATION ISSUES. This bill would require the State Department of Education to conduct a study relating to education issues in the state and then submit a report on the results of the study to the General Assembly’s Education Committee by May 20, 2018.
- H.B. No. 5339 AN ACT CONCERNING PUBLIC SCHOOLS. This bill would require the State Department of Education to conduct a study relating to issues affecting public schools in the state, and then submit a report on the results of the study to the General Assembly’s Education Committee by May 26, 2018.
The hearing on the above proposed bills will take place at 11:00 A.M. in Room 1A of the Legislative Office Building. The fact that a public hearing has been scheduled on these bills is not necessarily an indication that the Committee will pass them, but it is at least an indication that they are under serious consideration. Stay tuned.
Please note: At a prior, February 26, 2018, public hearing, the Education Committee heard testimony on numerous bills of interest, including bills that would 1) increase the amount that a school board can deposit into a non-lapsing account for unexpended education funds, 2) further address the use of seclusion and “exclusionary time outs,” 3) prohibit the Governor from making rescissions or other reductions to the education cost sharing grants during the middle of the fiscal year, 4) set forth standards for searches of a student’s mobile electronic devices, and 5) implement the Governor’s budget recommendations, including changes to ECS and charter school funding.
One final thought: Bills affecting education issues may also be considered by and emerge from other committees, even if somewhat attenuated from the mission of such committees. As an example, Senate Bill No. 320, “An Act Concerning Complaints of Sexual Harassment Against School Administrators, which would require the immediate suspension (with pay) of any school administrator whenever a school employee files a complaint of sexual harassment against him or her, is the subject of a public hearing of the General Assembly’s Committee on Children on March 6, 2018.