Legislative Update for 01/31/2020

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Legislative Update for 01/31/2020

Shanlyn Seivert

After a somewhat slow second week, the third week of the legislative session was a flurry of bills with several committee meetings. Both the Senate and the House released their State School Aid and Transportation/Per Pupil Equity amounts. SSB 3096 (State School Aid) establishes a 2.1 percent growth rate in school aid, which is an increase of approximately $76 million. HSB 587 (State School Aid)  establishes a 2.5 percent growth rate in school aid, which is an increase of approximately $100 million. Both SSB 3097 and HSB 594 (Transportation/Per Pupil Equity) add $7.65 million in new funding for transportation inequity funding, and $5.8 million (additional $10 to the state cost per pupil) to address per pupil inequity. All of these bills passed out of subcommittee and are eligible for a vote in their respective Education Committees next week.  

Other bills that passed in subcommittee this week.

SSB 3080 - Classroom Behavior/Room Clears – Senator Sinclair sponsored the bill and chaired the subcommittee. She stated that she has been hearing repeated concerns regarding safety in the classroom for teachers and students so she drafted this bill to make classrooms safer and welcomed input from stakeholders. Several education stakeholders attended the subcommittee and provided input. The bill is outlined below, however, there will be amendments forthcoming.

  • Requires the Department of Education (Department) to develop standards for responses to behavior in the classroom that presents an imminent threat of bodily injury to a student or another person.
  • Provides funding for educators to receive training to include the use of least restrictive environment, developing Individualized Education Plans and other strategies to address difficult behavior and improve academic engagement.
  • Establishes grants for therapeutic classrooms and allows schools to collaborate on the creation of therapeutic classrooms.
  • Regulates methods used for classroom clear situations.
  • Requires schools to notify parents about the situation.
  • Establishes reporting requirements to track incidents of violent behavior.
  • Provides, under certain circumstances, immunity from liability for school staff.

The companion bill HSB 598 is scheduled for a subcommittee on Wednesday, February 5, at 6 p.m. Representative Dolecheck stated that he scheduled the subcommittee outside of business hours to allow school personnel and other stakeholders the opportunity to attend and provide input.   

SSB 3075 - School Employee/Volunteer Immunity - Provides that if a school employee or school volunteer is granted immunity from any civil or criminal liability resulting from physical contact, if reasonable to prevent injury to self or others, the school district and board of directors of the district or authorities in charge of nonpublic accredited schools shall also be granted immunity to the same extent. The bill is in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

SSB 3067 School Health Screenings - Prohibits school districts from administering or conducting health screenings not required by state or federal law unless parental consent has been acquired. The bill passed in subcommittee and input was provided that will be considered for an amendment. One of the items that will be addressed is the definition for health screening.

SSB 3019 – State Accreditation Standards and Process – Provides career and technical education instructors with the option to use their education as well as experience to meet the community college state accreditation standards. Currently, there are two minimum faculty requirements available for community college career and technical education instructors. A proposal was developed by the Faculty Standards Task Force and was endorsed by the community college chief academic officers. The changes would provide community colleges with flexibility while maintaining credentialing standards and quality minimum faculty requirements in hiring career and technical education instructors, particularly in career and technical education fields with a shortage of quality instructors.

SF 2065 - Extra Bonding Capacity, School Resource Officers – Authorizes school districts to raise property tax or income surtax for school resource officers and allows school districts to use funding from the Instructional Support Program for school resource officers beginning with the 2020-21 school year. The bill is eligible for a vote in the Education Committee with an amendment.

SF 316 - Special Education Interim Study Committee - Requires an Interim Study Committee to learn about special education state and federal requirements, IEPs, inclusion and least restrictive environment, teacher training, practices and strategies to best accommodate students with severe emotional, social and behavioral problems. This bill passed in the Senate last year and the subcommittee was held in House. The report is due December 18, 2020.

HSB 559 – Teacher Preparation Reports – Requires the Department to publish passing rates by higher education institutions for exit tests. There are two tests required in statute for teacher preparation program candidates. One is to be admitted into the program, one is to exit. There was a companion bill, SF 2010, however, the bill was dropped, as the Department is now publishing the information. A subcommittee was held on HSB 559, where they added an amendment, which removes the admission test requirement.

HF 2088Professional Development Spending - Requires that funding provided to school districts for professional development cannot be used at an amusement park. Provides that BOEE rules must specify that time spent for professional development at an amusement park cannot be used to meet license renewal requirements unless held in a conference facility or meeting room.

Bills scheduled for a subcommittee next week.

HSB 576 - English Proficiency Weighting - Establishes two categories for weighting to support students with limited English proficiency into emerging and progressing categories. The bill defines both categories and assigns a supplementary weighting of 0.3 to emergency English Language Learners (ELL) and a supplementary weighting of 0.25 is assigned to progressing ELL students. Currently the weighting for all ELL students is .22.

HF 2150 – Bus Driver Hiring Practices Work Group - Requires the Department to convene and provide administrative support to a work group to study hiring practices, recruitment and background checks for school bus drivers. The work group will submit their findings and recommendations by November 20, 2020.

HF 2147 – School Budget Review Committee (SBRC) - Authorizes a school district or an Area Education Agency (AEA) to apply to SBRC for approval to revise district reports, data, or other information certified or reported to the Department for any of the three preceding school budget years. The SBRC would be required to annually submit a report to the Department by January 1, containing a summary of all requested revisions and decisions.

SF 2056 /HF 2090 -  Seizure Safe Schools - Requires school districts and accredited nonpublic schools with a student enrolled who has a seizure disorder to have an individual health plan; to have a registered nurse employed full-time to administer seizure medications; oversight of a vagus nerve stimulation; to provide biennial training relating to seizures to all employees; and to have one employee trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of seizures commencing July 1, 2020. The bill also requires the State Board of Education to adopt rules and the Department to implement a seizure education program statewide using the Epilepsy Foundation of America training.

As we enter week four, it is hard to believe that we are already half-way to reaching the first funnel, which is scheduled on February 21. There is a lot to do before that time, so buckle up as I think the next three weeks will be a fast ride! Until next week...

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