Legislative Update for 04/02/2021

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Legislative Update for 04/02/2021

Renee Jerman

It is the second funnel week! Much of the legislative work this week was focused on subcommittee and committee work in order to move bills out of the second chamber’s full committee by April 2 to remain alive. Exceptions apply to Appropriations, Government Oversight, Ways and Means, and leadership bills.

Alive after second funnel:

SR3 Girls Wrestling - Resolution urging the Iowa High School Girls Athletic Union to recognize girls wrestling.

SSB1243 Governor's education appropriations for FY2022 and FY2023.

SF258 School Resource Officer Expenses - Authorizes school districts to raise additional amounts of property tax or income surtax under the instructional support program for certain school resource officer expenses. 

SF259 At-Risk Program (Department-sponsored bill) - Allows AEAs to provide technical assistance to Shared Visions grantees that are not school districts.  Currently, they are limited to serving only districts. This expands the AEAs' ability to support quality programming and updates antiquated language. 

SF260 Reimbursements for Special Education Services - Requires a receiving school district to send the paperwork necessary for Medicaid reimbursement to the district of residence when a student with special education needs transfers to the receiving district. 

SF265 Temporary Retention - Allows a parent to submit a written request by August 15, 2021 to the school districts and accredited nonpublic schools for their child to be retained at the grade level for which the child was enrolled during the school year beginning July 1, 2020. Prohibits the school from promoting the student to the next grade level and is required to retain the student at the 2020-2021 grade level for the school year beginning July 1, 2021. 

SF287 Funding for Special Programs, Update Method of Calculation (Department- sponsored bill) - Aligns to the current automated calculation process used by the Department. Current statute includes an outdated calculation method for calculating funding for special programs, which required a manual calculation by districts. 

SF294 Child Development Assistance Duplicative Duties (Department-sponsored bill) – Proposes to delete two duties of the Child Development Coordinating Council that are duplicative of other efforts in the statewide early childhood system and is proposed at the request of the Child Development Coordinating Council. 

SF532 Statement of Professional Recognition - Requires the Board of Educational Examiners to adopt rules by August 1, 2021, developed in consultation with the Department, establishing a statement of professional recognition for behavior analysts licensed under Iowa Code chapter 154D. Requires by January 1, 2022, rules to be adopted establishing a statement of professional recognition for mental health counselors. The rules shall require that any mental health practitioner who holds a master’s degree and who also provides mental health services to students at a school obtain such a statement. The bill authorizes the board to carry out emergency rulemaking to implement the bill. 

SF546 Homeschooling Provisions - Changes assessment and reporting deadlines for competent private instruction. Changes the definition of competent private instruction to include private instruction by a parent, guardian, or legal custodian. Eliminates or reduces various requirements for driver education courses administered by teaching parents, making them easier to complete. 

SF587 Tax Changes - Increases the state school aid base to 88.4 percent as of the 2022 - 2023 school year in division III, and in division IV repeals the PERL levy used for playgrounds.

HF228 Diversity Plans - Eliminates implementation of a voluntary diversity plan as a reason to deny open enrollment. The bill also eliminates provisions directing the state board of education to adopt rules establishing definitions, guidelines, and a review process that school districts must follow when adopting a voluntary diversity plan and provisions requiring the department of education to provide technical assistance to school districts seeking to adopt a voluntary diversity plan. 

HF318 Statewide Preschool Program - Makes children who turn five between March 15 - September 15 eligible for the statewide preschool program and funding if the school enrolls such students. Applies to the 2022 through 2025 school years. 

HF532 Qualified Instruction Funding Supplement - Provides that each public school district shall receive a qualified instruction funding supplement. The supplement amount shall be equal to the percentage of the amount appropriated that is proportionate to the school district’s total in-person instruction days as a share of the statewide total in-person instruction days. For further information, please see the Notes on Bills and Amendments (NoBA)

HF602 School Activity Accounts - Authorizes the board of directors of a school district to, for the school budget years beginning on July 1, 2020, July 1, 2021, and July 1, 2022, transfer money from their general fund to the student activity fund in an amount necessary to fund co-curricular and extracurricular activities provided by the district for which moneys from student-related activities fail to meet the financial needs of the activities. Would take effect upon enactment and be repealed on July 1, 2023. 

HF605 English Proficiency Weighting - Divides students with limited English proficiency into intensive and intermediate categories. “Intensive student” means a limited-English-proficient student that, even with support, is not proficient under the state’s English language proficiency standards. “Intermediate student” means a limited-English-proficient student that, either with or without support, approaches being proficient under the state’s English language proficiency standards. The bill was amended in the House Education Committee to change the supplementary weighting for both categories (to 0.26 and 0.21, respectively).

HF675 Substitute Teachers - Requires the Board of Educational Examiners (BoEE) to issue a substitute authorization that allows an individual to substitute in grades prekindergarten through twelve for no more than 10 consecutive days in a 30 day period in one job assignment for a regularly assigned teacher who is absent, except in the driver’s education classroom. Allows a school district administrator to file a written request with the BoEE for an extension of the 10 day limit in one job assignment in a 30 day period on the basis of documented need and benefit to the instructional program. Requires the executive director or appointee to review the request and provide a written decision. Requires a substitute teacher authorization to have not less than the successful completion of an associate degree or not less than 60 undergraduate semester hours, or the equivalent, from a college or university accredited by the accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education. 

HF734 Iowa Reading Research Center (IRRC) Appropriation - Provides a $250,000 appropriation for the IRRC to develop coursework for the Dyslexia Specialist Endorsement and to continually oversee the endorsement. 

HF744 Free Speech - Requires school districts to protect the intellectual freedom of the school district’s students and practitioners and to establish and publicize policies that protect students and faculty from discrimination based on speech. 

HF793 Physical Education - Provides that a student who is enrolled in junior reserve officers’ training corps (JROTC) is not required to participate in physical education or physical activities under the state’s educational standards, but shall receive one-eighth unit of physical education credit for each semester (or the equivalent) the student is enrolled in JROTC.

HF802 Racism Training - Prohibits all agencies, governmental entities, governmental subdivisions, and contractors hired by these agencies, governmental entities, and governmental subdivisions from giving training, or using contractors that give training, that teaches, advocates, acts upon, or promotes what it calls “divisive concepts.” Requires the superintendent of each school district to ensure that any curriculum or mandatory staff or student training does not teach, advocate, act upon, or promote divisive concepts. The bill defines “divisive concepts,” provides that discrimination is prohibited, and clarifies that the bill should not be construed to violate first amendment rights. 

HF813 Charter School - Establishes a new charter school program in Chapter 256E. 

Section I and II lists the purposes for which a charter school shall be established and provides definitions.

Section III gives the Department of Education (Department) the duty to monitor the effectiveness of charter schools and implement this chapter. 

Sections IV and V create two potential models for establishing a charter school. Section IV is called the School Board-State Board model, and allows a school board to create a founding group to apply to the Iowa State Board of Education to establish and operate a charter school within and as part of a school district. The other model, in Section V, is called the Founding Group-State Board model, which allows a founding group to apply to the State Board for approval to establish and operate a charter school that operates as a new attendance center independently from a public school district.

Section VI establishes a charter school contract between the founding group and the State Board setting the academic and operational performance expectations and measures by which the charter school will be evaluated and other rights and duties. An initial charter school contract is required to be granted for a term of five school budget years.

Section VII sets out the operating powers and duties of a charter school. It also says that a charter school established under this chapter is “exempt from all state statutes and rules and any local rule, regulation, or policy, applicable to a non charter school” and provides a list of exceptions. 

Section VIII specifies how the charter schools shall be funded, including that a student enrolled in the charter school shall be counted for state school foundation purposes in the student’s district of residence. The school district of residence then pays funds to the charter school in which the student is enrolled. 

Section IX requires the State Board to adopt a performance framework that clearly sets forth the academic and operational performance indicators, measures, and metrics that will guide the evaluation of the charter school by the State Board. 

Section X addresses oversight, corrective action, contract renewal, and contract revocation. 

Section XI outlines the procedures for the closure of a charter school. 

Section XII requires that each charter school prepare and file an annual report with the Department. The State Board is also required to prepare and file with the General Assembly a comprehensive report with findings and recommendations relating to the charter school program and whether the charter school program is meeting the goals and purposes of the program.

HF854 Fines for Delayed Rulemaking - Allows the Administrative Rules Review Committee (ARRC) to reject, by a majority vote, a written notification by an agency that it will not finish rulemaking required by law in the time required or to determine that an agency has failed to adopt required rules in a timely manner. Allows the ARRC to impose a fine of $1,000 for such delays. Requires the agency to have an opportunity to address the ARRC before the fine is imposed. Requires the agency to pay within 14 days or to submit notice of rulemaking. Retroactive to January 11, 2021. 

HF845 Sharing Special Education Director - Allows special education director positions to be eligible for shared operational function weighting for the school budget years beginning on or after July 1, 2021. 

 HF847 Education Practices  

Division I of the bill requires the State Board to establish a flexible student and school support program. The program is to be administered by the Department, who may grant a school the ability to use the program to implement evidence-based practices in innovative ways to enhance student learning, well-being, and postsecondary success. The bill specifies the required contents of a school’s application to use the program and says that participating schools must file an annual report. Provides that funds received from the teacher leadership supplement which are unexpended and unobligated for a school district who has met all requirements for use of said funds can be transferred to a school district’s flexibility account. 

Division II of the bill allows eligible educators to have a tax deduction of up to 500 dollars for certain teacher expenses. Expands the tuition and textbook tax credit from 25 percent of the first 1,000 dollars spent to 25 percent of the first 2,000 dollars spent and allows dependents receiving private instruction to also be eligible for the credit. These all apply retroactively to January 1, 2021, for tax years beginning on or after that date.

Division III adds several circumstances where a student athlete is eligible to participate immediately in interscholastic athletic competition after participating in open enrollment. These circumstances include: good cause; if the district of residence issues or implements a decision that results in a discontinuance or suspension of varsity interscholastic sports; if the district of residence and receiving district both agree to waive the ineligibility period; and if the district of residence had a voluntary diversity plan in effect on January 1, 2021, for the school year beginning July 1, 2021. Changes the open enrollment athletic ineligibility period from ninety school days to ninety calendar days (takes effect upon enactment and also applies retroactively to January 1, 2021 for open enrollment requests approved on or after that date). Also, if a pupil is ineligible in one district and open enrolls into another, the period of ineligibility carries over and is added to any additional ineligibility periods in the new district. States if a student open enrolls into a nonpublic school and then goes back to the district of residence where they were enrolled on the first day of the school calendar, they may participate immediately in varsity interscholastic contests.

Adds a “consistent failure of the resident district to reasonably respond to a student’s failure to meet basic academic standards” to the category of open enrollment decisions subject to appeal to the State Board. Adds “a change in a child’s resident from the residence of one parent or guardian to the residence of a different parent of guardian,” and “initial placement of a prekindergarten student in a special education program requiring specially designed instruction” to the list of circumstances where the parent has the option to keep their child in the child’s original district of residence under open enrollment with no interruption in their educational program. Clarifies the method of how to discern which district is the first district of residence. Specifies the economic eligibility requirements for open enrollment transportation.

Division IV specifies that a school corporation is entrusted with public funds for the purpose of improving student outcomes.

Division V adds a work-based learning coordinator and a special education director to the list of positions for which supplementary weighting is available for shared operational funding. 

Governor Signed legislation:

SF160 School Instruction Time -  Requires that a brick-and-mortar school district or accredited nonpublic school shall provide an opportunity for a parent or guardian of each student enrolled in the school district or accredited nonpublic school to select full-time in-person instruction for the parent's or guardian's student unless this requirement is explicitly waived in a proclamation of a public health disaster emergency issued by the governor pursuant to section 29C.6 and related to COVID-19. A school district or accredited nonpublic school that is not providing an opportunity for full-time in-person instruction on the effective date of this Act shall provide to the parents and guardians of students enrolled in the school district or accredited nonpublic school notice of the opportunity to select full-time in-person instruction and shall allow the parent or guardian at least five days to decide whether to select the full-time in-person option if the school district or accredited nonpublic school will also continue to offer other instructional options. For the school year beginning July 1, 2020, any instruction provided by a school district or accredited nonpublic school shall be deemed to meet the days and hours of instructional time requirements of Iowa law only if the instruction is provided in compliance with all requirements of Iowa law, including this Act. The governor and the Department can waive the requirement for full-time in-person instruction upon consideration of a number of factors. Governor signed January 29, 2021.

SF231 Special Minor’s Driver’s License - Allows a special minor driver’s licensee who resides on a farm or is employed for compensation on a farm in this state, to operate a motor vehicle during the hours of 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. for the purpose of assisting the person's parents, guardians, or employers with farm work or in connection with any farm job, employment, or other farm-related work, including traveling to or from the location of the farm work, provided the licensee operates the vehicle over the most direct and accessible route between the point of origin and the destination and the driving distance between the point of origin and the destination is no more than fifty miles. Provides that the distance between the applicant's residence and school of enrollment shall not be considered as evidence of non-existence of necessity if the applicant resides on a farm or is employed for compensation on a farm. Excludes certain vehicles from the scope of vehicles one can operate if they possess this license.  Governor signed March 8, 2021.

SF 269 School Funding - Sets the Supplemental State Aid (SSA) at 2.4 percent. The bill also adds $10 per pupil, provides additional funds necessary for transportation equity and continues the property tax relief payments. Senate floor video from February 17, 2021. The bill was signed by the Governor February 23, 2021. 

HF308 Senior Year Plus (Department-sponsored bill) - Provides an alternative option for students to demonstrate their proficiency who are unable to meet the proficiency requirement of the Senior Year Plus program that must otherwise be met prior to enrollment in a postsecondary course through college sharing or concurrent enrollment programs. Effective upon enactment. Governor signed March 8, 2021.

HF386 Eliminates the Nonprofit School Organization Report to the Department (Department-sponsored bill) - Removes the requirement that districts report expenditures made by the school district on behalf of certain nonprofit school organizations to the Department and for the Department to include this information in its Annual Condition of Education Report. Districts have to seek out this information from other entities, as this information is not typically maintained by the districts. Governor signed March 8, 2021.

Have a great weekend!

Renee Jerman
Legislative Liaison
Iowa Department of Education
Grimes State Office Building
400 E 14th St
Des Moines, IA 50319-0146
Cell: 515-729-0859
Office: 515-281-3399