Legislative Update for March/16/2018

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Legislative Update for 03/16/2018

The second and final funnel has blown through, and there are many education bills that managed to pass out of one chamber and pass a Committee in the other chamber in order to survive. Others got tangled up in the legislative process and met their demise.

Most of the Department of Education (Department) sponsored bills survived the second 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 passed unanimously in the House and passed the Senate Education Committee, making it eligible for debate on the Senate 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 passed the House Education Committee, making it eligible for debate on the House floor.

Unfortunately, the Department’s Teacher Leadership and Compensation (TLC), Instructional Rubrics bill did not survive the second funnel. The bill would have required 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. Despite the bill not moving forward this legislative session, the Department intends to provide support and guidance for school districts interested in adopting or adapting an instructional rubric. More to come on those efforts in the near future.

Below are bills that survived the second funnel and have a good chance of passing both chambers in order to make their way to the Governor’s desk.

HF 2235 State Assessment - This bill requires that the State Board of Education adopt administrative rules designating the “assessment developed by the Iowa Testing Program within the University of Iowa College of Education and administered by the Iowa Testing Program’s designee” as Iowa’s statewide/summative assessment for accountability. There is an amendment in the Senate which adds requirements that the Iowa Testing Program must fulfill in the designated assessment.

Those requirements include the following:

  1. The assessment must be aligned to the Iowa core academic standards;
  2. It must accurately describe student achievement and growth;
  3. It must be available in both paper-and-pencil and computer-based formats; and
  4. It must meet the requirements of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

The amendment also requires that the designated assessment must be peer-reviewed by an independent, third-party evaluator to determine that it is aligned with the Iowa core academic standards and meets the summative assessment requirements of ESSA.  If the third-party evaluator determines that the assessment from Iowa Testing Program is not aligned or does not meet the requirements of ESSA, then Iowa Testing Program must “make any necessary adjustments as determined by the peer review” in order to meet those requirements.  The assessment would be implemented at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year. There was an article written by the The Gazette regarding the debate on the Senate floor. Click here for the article.

SF 2364 – Security Plans – This bill requires all public and accredited nonpublic schools to develop a high-quality emergency operations plan for the district and individual school buildings no later than June 30, 2019. The legislation also requires that all school personnel conduct at least one annual emergency operations drill. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate and passed the House Education Committee, making it eligible for debate on the House floor.

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 unanimously and passed the Senate Education Committee, making it eligible for debate on the Senate floor.

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. ​At-risk and dropout prevention ​program plans 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 ​and allows moneys deposited in the child ca​re fund that exceed the amount necessary to operate the program to be transferred, by board resolution, to the general fund. The bill passed in the House 97-0 and passed the Senate Education Committee, making it eligible for debate on the Senate floor. 

HF 2442 – High School Collision Sports – This bill requires the Department of Public Health (DPH), Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA), and Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union (IGHSAU) to work together to develop training materials and courses on concussions and brain injury and requires:

  1. Coaches and contest officials to complete training by July 1, 2019 and then every two years thereafter;
  2. School districts and non-public schools to provide to parents/guardians a concussion and brain injury information sheet which the student and parent must sign and return prior to participation;
  3. A student to be immediately removed from a contest if showing any sign of brain injury; and
  4. The DPH, IHSAA, IGHSAU and the Department to develop return to play/return to learn protocols.

The bill also adds liability protections for schools that have a licensed health care provider at contests and protection for the health care provider. The bill passed the House on a 96-1 vote and passed the Senate Education Committee, making it eligible for debate on the Senate floor.

HF 2467 – School Meals – This bill allows schools to use money from the flexibility accounts to pay for the costs of student meal debt. The bill requires schools, at least twice per year, to notify parents of students with five unpaid lunches of the availability of free or reduced school lunch programs. It also encourages ​schools to offer students ​having a negative account balance ​reimbursable lunches unless the parent authorizes withholding lunches from a student. The bill prohibits posting lists of students who cannot pay for lunch, shaming such students, and denying the students participation in various school activities. The bill passed the House on a 97-0 vote and passed the Senate Education Committee, making it eligible for debate on the Senate floor.

HF 648 – Technical Corrections to CTE Statute – This bill allows Regional Planning Partnerships (RPP) to receive funding at the beginning of the fiscal year rather than at the end of the fiscal year as reimbursement. The bill also authorizes RPPs to use funds to purchase career and technical education equipment as well as some consumable supplies. The bill passed the House last session on a 98-0 vote and started in Senate Appropriations this session. It passed the Senate Appropriations Committee and is eligible for debate on the Senate floor.  

SF 2113 - Suicide Prevention Training: The House amended and passed on a 98-0 vote and returned to the Senate. The bill now requires one hour of training annually for all licensed school personnel to include both prevention and adverse childhood experiences and crisis identification and intervention. It has passed in both chambers making it funnel-proof.  

SF 2360 - Dyslexia Task Force - This bill requires the Department to convene a Dyslexia Task Force to make findings and recommendations for legislation or administrative rules changes and make recommendations for specific role groups. The Task Force is required to consider but is not limited to student screening, interventions, teacher preparation and professional development, classroom accommodation and assistive technology.  The report needs to be submitted to the General Assembly and Governor by November 15, 2019. The bill passed the Senate and House Education Committee and is eligible for debate on the House floor.

SF 2318 – High School Credits – This bill requires school districts and accredited nonpublic schools to grant high school credit to a student of any age who has successfully completed a high school course. If the course is taught by a licensed teacher not employed by the school district or accredited non-public school, then it is at the discretion of the school district and accredited nonpublic school to grant the credit. The bill passed the Senate on a 47-2 vote and passed the House Education Committee, making it eligible for debate on the House floor.

A bill that I have not previously mentioned, but which I thought may be of interest to some of you is HF 2278 – Searchable School Database – This bill requires the Department of Management to create and maintain a searchable budget database and internet site detailing where, and for what purpose, school district tax dollars and other funds are expended. This bill has only passed a House Appropriations Subcommittee; however, it is funnel-proof due to being in Appropriations.

Listed below are several bills that did not make it through the second funnel:

SF 2273 – Physical Education Requirement – This bill would authorize a student to be excused from physical fitness requirements if engaged in a fitness club or club sport approved by the school.

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. 

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.

SF 2137 School Bus Route Limitations - The bill places the responsibility to determine the amount of time a student can be on a bus with local school boards.

So far the session has focused on establishing policy. Now, the real challenge becomes how to pay for existing programs as well as any new requirements that may have made it through the funnel for fiscal year 2019. The two chambers still need to agree on a De-appropriations bill, as they both passed different versions of SF 2117, which cuts appropriations for the current fiscal year. They have yet to reconcile the differences in the two.

For the upcoming budget, there will be a Joint Appropriations Subcommittee (meaning House and Senate members meet together) who will work on the education budget and report back to their respective Appropriations Committee. Once the De-appropriations bill is reconciled and the Education Appropriations bill is shared, we will have a better understanding of the financial landscape for fiscal year 2019. 


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