Legislative Update for 02/07/2020

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Legislative Update for 02/07/2020

Shanlyn SeivertThis week was a day shorter due to caucuses on Monday night, so legislators made up for it the remainder of the week. There was a flurry of bills and several committee meetings to round out the week.

A priority for both the Senate and House was to get the State School Aid and Transportation/Per Pupil Equity bills passed out of their respective Committees.

SF 2164 (Transportation/Per Pupil Equity) Attached is the Notes on Bills and Amendments (NOBA) for details. The bill passed in the Education and Appropriation Committees unanimously and is eligible for debate on the Senate floor. SF 2142 (State School Aid) Establishes a 2.1 percent growth rate in school aid. Attached is the LSA Fiscal Note for details. The bill passed in the Education Committee on a party-line vote. The bill was referred to Appropriations, where it passed, making it eligible for debate on the Senate floor.

HF 2245 (Transportation/Per Pupil Equity) Attached is the NOBA for details. The bill passed in the Education Committee on a party-line vote and passed in the Appropriation Committee, making it eligible for debate on the House floor. HF 2243 (State School Aid) Establishes a 2.5 percent growth rate in school aid. Attached is the LSA Fiscal Note for details. The bill passed in the House Education Committee on a party-line vote and was referred to Appropriations, where it passed, making it eligible for debate on the House floor.  

Governor Reynolds’ Future Ready Iowa bill passed subcommittees in both the Senate and the House. SSB 3077/HSB 607 are designed to strengthen Iowa’s workforce. There are seven divisions:

Division I: Future Ready Iowa Apprenticeship Training Program
• Expands financial assistance for ongoing training for apprenticeship programs and sponsors can receive up to $1,000 per apprentice, not to exceed $20,000 annually.
Division II: Iowa Child Care Challenge Fund
• Provides matching state funding to encourage businesses, nonprofits and other partners to establish or expand local child care facilities through new construction or renovations.
Division III: Workforce Diploma Pilot Project
• Augments existing high school equivalency diploma programs by assisting adults without a high school diploma to attain a diploma as well as employability and career-technical education skills.
Division IV: Computer Science Instruction
• Expands access to computer science instruction to all K-12 students across the state.
• High schools will offer at least a one-semester computer science course by July 1, 2021.
• Middle and elementary schools will offer computer science instruction in at least one grade level each by July 1, 2021.
• The Department of Education (Department) will develop a K-12 state computer science plan by July 1, 2021.
• School districts/nonpublic schools will develop K-12 computer science plans by July 1, 2021.
• A computer science work group will recommend how to strengthen computer science instruction and develop a statewide campaign to promote computer science to students.
• $500,000/Computer Science Professional Development Incentive Fund.
• Other sources of funding will enhance professional development for teachers, providing curriculum and virtual instruction for students.
• Teachers will not be required to earn endorsements to teach computer science. They will be offered training for teaching courses and integrating computer science into other subjects.
• Students will not be required to take computer science in order to graduate from high school, although schools will have to offer computer science.
Division V: Supplementary Weighting/Shared Operational Functions
• Adds work-based learning coordinators to positions that can be paid for with operational sharing to help school districts increase opportunities for students to participate in work-based learning that provides authentic professional experiences and connects classrooms to future careers.
Division VI: Future Ready Iowa Skilled Workforce Last Dollar Scholarship Program
• Expands eligibility for the Last Dollar Scholarship.
Division VII: Senior Year Plus Program and Postsecondary Enrollment Options
• Expands opportunities for high school students to earn college credit without families having to pay tuition by lifting the current annual 23-credit cap for concurrent enrollment.

There was movement on two of the Department’s proposed bills.

HSB 642 Senior Year Plus Proficiency Requirements - To enroll in college credit courses via concurrent enrollment or Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO), a high school student must meet academic standards set by the postsecondary institution, which are the same for regularly-enrolled college students and high school students. Currently, high school students also have to be proficient at grade level in reading, math, and science to take any courses via concurrent enrollment. With the changes to the new Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP) proficiency standards, many students will lose access to college credit courses. The bill would eliminate the state proficiency requirements for eligibility. Students would still be expected to meet all general college requirements, and if required, program specific entrance requirements. The bill has been assigned to a subcommittee and we anticipate it will be scheduled for a subcommittee soon.

HSB 644 State Accreditation Standards and Process - Provides an additional option for instructors to meet the state accreditation standards by combining education and experience in the occupational area. The bill permits an instructor to teach Career and Technical Education (CTE) classes at a community college if they possess an associate degree in the CTE field of instruction, and they have at least 3,000 hours of recent and relevant work experience in the area in which they plan to teach. The bill has been assigned to a subcommittee and we anticipate it will be scheduled for a subcommittee soon. SF 2154 (companion bill) passed with an amendment, which also allows an instructor to meet state accreditation standards if they possess a baccalaureate degree in any area and if at least 18 of the credit hours completed are in the CTE field in which the instructor teaches. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate Education Committee and is eligible for debate on the Senate floor.

Bills that received a vote in the Senate Education Committee.

SF 2190 - Classroom Behavior/Room Clears – The bill is outlined in my January 31, legislative update. The bill passed on party-line vote, but the Senate Education Committee approved the amendment unanimously. The amendment provides funding for therapeutic classrooms, makes changes to reporting requirements, requires that reports to parents regarding room clears will no longer name particular students and if a child causes a room clear, that child may return to their classroom after the parent meeting is scheduled, not after the meeting occurs. It also provides that teachers who make reports get whistle-blower protection and added appropriations for transportation and incentive grant programs and changed effective dates to allow for timely implementation.

A lengthy subcommittee was held on Wednesday evening for companion bill, HSB 598. There was a great deal of feedback provided and Representative Dolecheck is planning to schedule a second subcommittee to allow for additional input.

SF 2153School 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 unanimously in the Senate Education Committee with amendments that make exceptions for emergent care, emancipated minors, and mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse.

SF 2155 - 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 (ISP) for school resource officers beginning with the 2020-21 school year. The bill passed unanimously with an amendment, which includes that local boards need to have a resolution annually to use ISP funding for school resource officers. The bill has been referred to Ways and Means. 

Bills that passed in subcommittee.

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 English-language learners. Currently the weighting for all ELL students is .22. The bill passed in subcommittee, however, the Department is working with members of the subcommittee to ensure implementation does not depend upon a particular provider. 

HF 2048 Statewide Voluntary School Programs (SWVPP) - Expands eligibility for participation in SWVPP to include children turning five years old on/after March 15 and on/before September 15 of the school year. The expansion of eligibility dates will create a time-frame within which some children may be eligible for both SWVPP and kindergarten enrollment. Local school districts would make local decisions as to how many children they would serve. Local school districts would also identify their criteria to be used for prioritizing enrollment. The bill is eligible for a vote in the House Education Committee.

HF 2139Immunization Exemption Information - Provides that any information or communication provided by school personnel regarding immunization requirements includes information regarding exemption from immunization requirements due to recognized religious practices. The bill passed in subcommittee with an amendment and is eligible for a vote in the House.

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. Subcommittees were held for both bills. The bill did not move out of subcommittee in the Senate, however, it did pass in the House making it eligible for a vote in the House Education Committee.

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. The bill is eligible for a vote in the House Education Committee.

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 eligible for a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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. The report is due December 18, 2020. The bill is eligible for a vote in the House Education Committee.

Bills scheduled for subcommittees next week.

HF 2201 – Sexual Orientation Instruction - Allows pupils to be excused from any program, curriculum, material etc. relating to sexual orientation or gender identity.

HF 2169 – Stop the Bleed - Requires every student by the end of grade 12 to successfully complete a certification course for bleeding control developed by the American College of Surgeons Committee on trauma or the Department of Public Health. The requirement would apply to the 2021 school year.

HF 2147 – School Budget Review Committee (SBRC) - Authorizes a school district or an Area Education Agency (AEA) to apply to the 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 438 - Omnibus bill - Makes changes to Iowa Code that pertain to school district responsibilities and authority, including dental, vision, and lead screening data collection and reporting. The bill is resurrected from the last legislative session and the details of the bill were outlined in the March 22, 2019 legislative update. This bill passed in the Senate last year and is scheduled for a subcommittee in the House.

SF 199 - Voluntary Diversity Plans – Strikes the use of voluntary diversity plans as a reason to deny open enrollment. This bill is resurrected from the last legislative session.

The pace last week was incredibly fast and I’m anticipating the same as we enter week five. The Department is currently monitoring over 130 education related bills, so please check out the Department’s bill tracking webpage to see all the education bills that have been introduced. Until next week…

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