Legislative Update for January 20, 2018

Iowa Department of Education Banner with Mission Statement

Legislative Update for 01/20/2018

Shanlyn Seivert

Although the week was a day shorter, due to the Martin Luther King holiday, there were a flurry of subcommittees scheduled for the remainder of the week.

Three bills proposed by the Department of Education (Department) were assigned to a subcommittee. Those bills are as follows:

SSB 3028 - American Sign Language as a World Language – This bill provides that American Sign Language may count as a World Language for the purposes of offer-and-teach. Whether to offer it as a World Language for that purpose is left to the local district. The bill also changes code references from “foreign language” to “world language.”

SSB 3029 - Department of Education Code Corrections and Clarifications – This bill is designed to clean up sections of Iowa code related to education matters and does not establish any new policies. A subcommittee has been scheduled for the bill.

SSB 3030 - Iowa Learning Online (ILO), Expanded Access – ILO courses, which are vetted by the Department and taught by an Iowa licensed teacher, are currently available to only school districts and accredited nonpublic schools. This bill seeks to expand access to ILO to students receiving independent private instruction, competent private instruction, or attending non-accredited private schools. The parent or guardian of the student would be responsible for paying the cost of the ILO course.

Subcommittees were held on the following bills:

SF 270 – School Diversity Plans – This bill eliminates the implementation of a voluntary diversity plan as a reason to deny open enrollment of a student. There are five Iowa school districts that have voluntary diversity plans: Davenport, Des Moines, Postville, Waterloo and West Liberty. Currently, a school district that has a voluntary diversity plan or court ordered desegregation plan may deny a request for open enrollment if the school district believes the enrollment or release of a student would adversely affect their plan. The bill would only authorize open enrollment denials based on court-ordered desegregation plans (there are none currently in Iowa). The bill did not pass out of subcommittee as additional information was requested. Depending upon the information received, it could be scheduled for a second subcommittee.

HF 633 - Shared Operational Functions for Purposes of Supplemental Weighting – Last session this bill passed in the House on a 99-0 vote. The bill will now be sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee, where it is expected to pass. The bill strikes the provisions limiting the number of years for which the supplemental weighting may be claimed. It also eliminates the provisions establishing the period of school budget years during which the supplementary weighting may be claimed.

SF 475 – This omnibus education bill originated and passed in the Senate last session. A subcommittee was held in the House this week, where the bill advanced making it eligible for a vote in the House Education Committee. The bill expands the ability to utilize online education (instruction and course content that are delivered primarily over the internet), expands the ability of community college-employed instructors to teach career and technical education (CTE) courses at the high school level, mandates a task force on area education agencies (AEA) essential services, provides access to co-curricular or extracurricular activities within a district to students who are participating in open enrollment for the purpose of receiving instruction and course content primarily over the internet, and creates within the Department a seal of bi-literacy program to recognize students graduating who have demonstrated proficiency in two or more world languages. The bill also states the Department’s guidance documents and statements may not be inconsistent with code and rule.

There was also a subcommittee held on SF 2017, which would eliminate the Department of Education and transfer its responsibilities to school districts, area education agencies, community colleges, and other state agencies. This bill has come up in previous years. The current status of the bill is unclear. We understood at the conclusion of the subcommittee that the bill was not going to advance at this time. However, we have since discovered that the bill did pass the subcommittee with an amendment. The status of the amendment is unknown. As information becomes available, I’ll keep you posted in future legislative updates.

We have entered week three, and there are many interesting bills that are sure to start stimulating conversations. Don’t be left out, make sure you stay up to date on all education related bills and visit the Department's Education Bill Tracking webpage often!

Until next week…

Shan Seivert
Policy Liaison
Iowa Department of Education
Cell: 515-326-5595
Office: 515-281-3399