Legislative Update for March 26, 2018

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Legislative Update for 03/26/2018

Shanlyn Seivert

For the majority of last week, legislators spent their days in caucus and debating bills. Both chambers came to an agreement on SF 2117, which is the De-appropriations bill. It cuts the current budget by $23.3 million and transfers another $10 million from the Iowa Skilled Worker and Job Creation Fund to the state General Fund. The Department of Education (Department) received a reduction of $785,000 for the current fiscal year. The bill is on its way to the Governor. Now that de-appropriations have been established, legislators can focus on the upcoming budget.

There are a few other bills that are on their way to the Governor.

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.

HF 2235 State Assessment - This bill requires that the State Board of Education adopt administrative rules designating the “assessment developed by the Iowa Testing Programs within the University of Iowa College of Education and administered by the Iowa Testing Programs’ designee” as Iowa’s statewide/summative assessment for accountability. The bill requires that the assessment must be aligned to the Iowa Core academic standards; accurately describe student achievement and growth; be available in both paper-and-pencil computer-based formats; and meet the requirements of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

The bill 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 Programs is not aligned or does not meet the requirements of ESSA, then Iowa Testing Programs must “make any necessary adjustments as determined by the peer review” in order to meet those requirements. The assessment would be administered in the last quarter of the 2018-2019 school year.

SF 2113 - Suicide Prevention Training - The bill requires the Board of Educational Examiners (BoEE) to adopt rules requiring that all licensed school personnel participate in one hour of training to include prevention, identification of adverse childhood experiences, and crisis intervention.

Below are bills that survived the second funnel and are in various stages of the legislative process: 

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 on the House floor with an amendment. The amendment would require local law enforcement and emergency management agencies who are participating in the drill, to provide the school board with a written plan outlining the specifics of the drill. The school board would need to approve the plan prior to the drill taking place. The bill is on the Senate debate calendar.

SF 2324 - Vans and Pickups used as School Buses – The bill would allow the use of pickups that carry up to nine passengers, including the driver, and vans up to 12 passengers, including the driver, as school buses or activity vehicles. The bill specifies that there cannot be more passengers than there are safety belts installed in the vehicles by the manufacturer, and passengers may not ride in the bed of the pickup. The bill passed the Senate and passed a House Transportation Committee making it eligible for debate on the House floor.  

SF 475 – Education Omnibus - This bill has several sections and addresses various educational areas. They are as follows:

  • Online Education – Eliminates the cap on the number of students who can be enrolled in online education through open enrollment. The bill authorizes school districts to provide online courses developed by private providers.
  • Concurrent Enrollment - School districts can enter a sharing agreement with a community college offering a course or providing an instructor for career and technical education (CTE). This would allow small school districts to work with community college CTE programs to meet offer and teach requirements when they cannot find a teacher to fill the CTE position and under other circumstances. There are also additional weighting provisions for a student who is taking a community college course for no more than two career and technical courses.
  • Student Health Working Group - The Department, in conjunction with the Department of Public Health, will create a student health work group to review state-initiated student health requirements. The committee will find ways to reduce the administrative burden imposed on schools and provide for a single method of enforcement of current health requirements and data collections. The bill also outlines the makeup of the work group.
  • Open Enrollment/Extracurricular Activity Fee - Allows a district of residence to deduct up to $200 per activity, up to two activities, for a student who is open enrolled and taking online courses. Students may participate in additional activities at the discretion of the resident district. For a co-curricular activity, a school district of residence may charge a student a fee for participation that is equivalent to the fee paid by other resident students.
  • Biliteracy Seal - Directs the Department to develop and administer a seal or authorized endorsement of biliteracy to recognize students graduating who are proficient in two or more world languages.
  • Guidance - The bill also states that the Department’s guidance documents and statements may not be inconsistent with code and rule.

There are three amendments added to the bill. The first amendment requires the receiving school district to notify the resident school district, within 30 days, if a student who is open enrolled and participating in their online program terminates their enrollment. The second amendment prohibits a school district and private online provider from offering an incentive to parents, guardians and students to participate in their online program. The third amendment requires a student to complete one-half unit of financial literacy as a high school graduation requirement and outlines the areas to be included in the financial literacy curriculum. If the Senate accepts these amendments, the bill will be sent to the Governor. If they amend, it will need to go back to the House.

SSB 3206 Education Savings Grants – The bill was put forth by leadership in the Senate and therefore is funnel-proof. It establishes education savings grants for students in private schools. The bill creates an education savings account for each eligible student that applies by January 15 in the prior year and the amount equals to 60 percent of the regular program state cost per pupil. The students who would be eligible are incoming kindergartners or students who have attended a public school for the previous two semesters, and allows students who previously received Education Savings Grants to apply again. Funds remaining in the account may be used toward tuition expenses for an Iowa college or university, until the student reaches age 25.The bill passed a Senate Appropriations subcommittee and can now go to the full Appropriations Committee.

This week will most likely look similar to last week for legislators. There will be a lot of time spent in caucus and debating bills on the floor. The last day scheduled for this legislative session is April 17, 2018, which is a little more than three weeks away. There is still a great deal of work that needs to be done to complete policy bills and establish state budgets. It will be interesting to see what is accomplished in the coming weeks and what will be left to address in the next legislative session.


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