Legislative Update for March 5, 2018

Iowa Department of Education Banner with Mission Statement

Legislative Update for 03/05/2018

Shanlyn Seivert

If you’re a regular reader of this legislative update, you most likely noticed that you have not received an update from me in a few weeks. I’ve recently returned to the office after being on leave to tend to a personal matter. During my absence, the first funnel came and went, with a large number of education bills remaining active. I will do my best to get you up to speed.

All of the Department of Education sponsored bills survived the first funnel, and their current status is outlined below.

HF 2390 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.” The bill is eligible for debate on the House floor.

SF 2131/HF 2367 – Iowa Learning Online (ILO), Expanded Access - ILO courses, which are developed or 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. SF 2131 passed the Senate and was substituted for HF 2367, which passed the House with an amendment. The amendment states that the Area Education Agencies, in collaboration with the community colleges, and the Department of Education, will convene a working group to identify effective means by which students may access educational instruction and content online and submit a report to the legislature by October 15, 2018. The working group is also tasked with identifying partnerships between existing providers of rigorous and high quality online coursework. If SF 2131 passes the Senate with the amendment and no changes, it will be on its way to the Governor.

HF 2398 – Teacher Leadership and Compensation (TLC), Instructional Rubrics – This bill would require school districts, as a condition of receiving Teacher Leadership and Compensation funds beginning July 1, 2019, to develop, adopt, or retain an instructional rubric, framework, or learning progression that defines effective instructional practice across developmental stages and focuses on student learning and achievement. The bill also tasks the Department of Education with issuing guidance to school districts regarding this process. The bill was amended from requiring schools to use this guidance to simply allowing them to use the guidance as they determine how they will develop, adopt, or retain a rubric. The bill is eligible for debate on the House floor.

SF 2114 – 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. The bill passed the Senate and was sent to the House, where it passed out of the Education Committee and is eligible for debate on the House floor.

Other Education bills that are on the move are as follows:

HF 2235 – Statewide Assessment - This bill states that the new assessment shall be developed by the Iowa Testing Program located within the University of Iowa College of Education and be administered by the Iowa Testing Program’s designee. The bill passed in the House on a 95-3 vote and was sent to the Senate where it passed out of a subcommittee. There have been articles written by the Des Moines Register and Cedar Rapids Gazette on this topic; click here and here to read more. The bill will most likely be considered in the Senate Education Committee this week.

HF 2406 – School Operational Sharing Incentives for Social Workers – This bill makes a master social worker or an independent licensed social worker eligible to be included in shared operational supplemental weighting. The bill passed in the House on a 96-0 vote and has been sent to the Senate.

HF 2438 – SAVE Fund – This bill extends the state penny sales tax for school infrastructure until 2050. This bill has been referred to Ways and Means, which is funnel proof.

HF 2441 – School District Program Funding Flexibility – The bill includes changes to early intervention, at-risk, and dropout prevention programming categorical funds. The bill states that early intervention funds can be used for general fund purposes. Approval to use at-risk and dropout prevention programming funds must be approved by local school boards, and requests for modified supplemental amount (MSA) will be submitted to and reviewed by the School Budget Review Committee (SBRC) rather than the Department. Administrative staff, psychologists, social workers, mental health counselors, and any purpose that directly benefits students in the adopted program are added to the list of specified allowable uses of at-risk and dropout prevention funds. Additionally, the bill removes the five-year limitation on the length of time allowed for a lease of school district property. The bill is eligible for debate on the House floor.

SF 2273 – Physical Education Requirement – This bill authorizes a student to be excused from physical fitness requirements if engaged in a fitness club or club sport approved by the school. The bill passed in the Senate on a 37-11 vote and was sent to the House.

SF 2341 – Civics Test – This bill would require 7th-12th grade students to score at least 60% correct, out of 100 multiple choice questions, on the latest version of the naturalization exam used by the United States Citizenship and Naturalization Services in order to graduate high school or receive a high school equivalency diploma.  Alternative assessment measures approved by the Department would be used for students with significant disabilities and students identified as limited English proficient. The bill passed in the Senate on a 38-12 vote and was sent to the House.

SF 2359 – 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 passed on an 8-7 vote in the Senate Education Committee and is eligible for debate on the Senate floor.

SF 2364 – Security Plans – This bill requires schools to have school security plans for all school buildings. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate Education Committee and is now eligible for debate on the Senate floor.

SF 455 – Transportation and District Cost Per Pupil Equity – This bill adds five dollars to the state cost per pupil, after accounting for regular program supplemental state aid, for the budget year beginning July 1, 2018. Additionally, it establishes a transportation equity fund to provide assistance to districts whose per pupil transportation costs exceed the statewide adjusted average cost per pupil. A one-year appropriation of $11.2 million is provided for this fund. This bill passed both chambers and is on its way to the Governor.

With the second funnel quickly approaching, floor debate will continue to be active. If you are interested in watching the debate of certain bills, here are the links that provide the daily debate calendar and the live chamber video. If you are not available to watch the debate live, the link to the live chamber video also provides daily archive videos. Stay tuned as the next two weeks will be busy with committees and floor debate, and with the current pace, if you miss a day, you may miss a lot.

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