Legislative Update for 04/09/21

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Legislative Update for 04/09/21

Renee Jerman

The activity this week was centered around floor debate and appropriation bills in subcommittees. The legislative website provides links to the Senate floor debate and House floor debate that are active during debate.

House floor passed:

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. If the ARRC has not received written notification from an agency that either of the actions required were carried out within the period provided, the ARRC shall provide a written notification to the Department of Management. The Department of Management shall then transfer the amount of unpaid delinquency fees due from any funds available to the agency for support, maintenance, or other administrative costs to the general fund. Retroactive to January 11, 2021. 

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.

Senate floor passed:

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). 

HF228 Diversity Plans - Eliminates implementation of a voluntary diversity plan as a reason to deny open enrollment. March 1 deadlines shall not apply to an application submitted by a parent or guardian for purposes of enrolling the parent’s or guardian’s child in a school district for the school year beginning July 1, 2021, and ending June 30, 2022, if a voluntary diversity plan was in effect in the school district of residence during the school year beginning July 1, 2020, and ending June 30, 2021.

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.

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. 

Education Appropriations subcommittee (House only):

LSB 1003YA Education Appropriations

Division I - Fiscal Year 2021-2022 Appropriations (sections 6 - 9 appropriates to the Department of Education) 

Division II - Workforce Training Programs - Appropriations Fiscal Year 2021-2022

The Education Appropriations bill has not been assigned a House bill number yet. The language of the bill can be found in the LSB link above.

Senate Appropriations Committee passed:

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, and the committee recommended amendment, please see the Notes on Bills and Amendments (NoBA).

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.

Senate Ways and Means subcommittee passed: 

HF847 Education Practices  

Division I of the bill requires the State Board of Education to establish a flexible student and school support program. The program is to be administered by the Department of Education, 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 90 school days to 90 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 of Education. 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. 

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