Legislative Update – March 17, 2017

The ninth week of General Assembly was consumed with debating the 2017-18 Appropriations Bill, H. 3720. The House of Representatives spent most of the day  Monday, Tuesday, and worked past midnight on Wednesday to give the budget second and third readings this week.

House of Representatives

Because of the extensive debate in the House of Representatives on the FY 17-18 Appropriations Bill, H. 3720, there were no subcommittee meetings by House committees this week.  Additionally, no other bills on the House calendar were discussed while the House was in session.

House Budget Debate

Regarding education, very little changed from the version passed by the Ways and Means Committee (see February 24th Legislative Update).  Listed below are the changes made on the floor of the House during the debate. The following funding additions were made possible when the House amended the Roads Bill to return the $37.5 million of EIA funding that was swept up in the Infrastructure Trust Fund.

·         $12 million for technology which will be allocated using the same methodology as previously used.

·         $1 million to continue funding the Youth Challenge Program.

·         $24.6 million for the Abbeville Capital Improvements Fund.

Regarding provisos, the House adopted three new provisos. The first proviso was a clean-up amendment deleting several provisos that no longer had funding attached to them.  The second amendment was tied to the $1.4 million added to enable the continued use of the value-added assessment program.  The last proviso dealt with the methodology for distribution of the technology funding.

One other amendment was offered dealing with education but was withdrawn by the amendment sponsor.  The amendment would allow retired teachers to teach certain subjects without the $10,000 earnings cap. The amendment was withdrawn because, per the amendment’s author, that topic is to be discussed when the Pension Reform Committee begins meeting again to work on Phase II of needed changes to the pension system.

Senate

Action on the Floor

·         S. 520 – (CATE Regulation) This is a joint resolution to approve regulations of the State Board of Education relating to career or technology centers/comprehensive high schools.

o   Action: The joint resolution received second and third reading in the Senate and now moves to the House for consideration.

·         S. 521 – (Defined Program Regulation) This is a joint resolution to approve regulations of the State Board of Education relating to defined program, grades 9-12 and graduation requirements.

o   Action: The joint resolution received second and third reading in the Senate and now moves to the House for consideration.

·         S. 526 – (Advanced Placement Regulation) This is a joint resolution to approve regulations of the State Board of Education relating to advanced placement.

o   Action: The joint resolution received second and third reading in the Senate and now moves to the House for consideration.

·         S. 199 – (Stopped School Bus) This bill authorizes the Department of Public Safety to issue a ticket to the owner of a vehicle that illegally passes a stopped school bus based upon the inspection of photographs, microphotographs, videotape, or other digitally recorded images produced by a digital recording system mounted on a school bus. It establishes civil penalties in an amount not to exceed $250 for the first offense and $500 for a second or subsequent offense. Appeals procedures are also outlined in the bill.

o   Action: The Senate began debate on the bill, however, Senator Jackson objected to further consideration of the bill.

K-12 Education Committee

·         S. 462 – (Diploma Pathways) This bill, promoted by the State Department of Education, provides for personalized college and career ready pathways for students to receive a high school diploma. It also provides that all students must take a computer science course in coding and computer programing to meet graduation requirements. The bill also creates an Employability Credential for students who are not on track for graduation or who have an IEP which specifies that the student would not meet the state’s graduation requirements.

o   Action: The subcommittee adopted an amendment which requires the SBE to promulgate regulation establishing pathways and endorsements; requires computer science classes to include design, computer coding, or computer programing; and removes students who do not have an IEP from consideration for an employability credential.

·         S. 445 – (Charter Schools) The bill makes multiple changes to the Charter School Act primarily in the areas of governance and finance.

o   Action: The subcommittee was offered an amendment to the bill from the superintendent of the Public Charter School District and the SC Association of Public Charter Schools.  The subcommittee had many questions regarding the amendment and moved to adjourn debate to allow more time to examine the document.

·         S. 534 – (Education Accountability Act) The bill makes several changes to the act. Changes are in the areas of the value-added system; adding Profile of the Graduate language; specifics on what data must be disaggregated; changing terminology from “absolute performance” to “performance rating;” redefining growth; reducing testing in science and social studies; and defining the academic performance ratings of excellent, good, average, below average, and at-risk.

o   Action: The State Department of Education requested the consideration of an amendment to the bill which was considered and adopted by the subcommittee.  Several areas of differing opinions between the SCDE and the EOC were to be ironed out before the next meeting of the subcommittee.

·         H. 3221 – (Fiscal Practices and Budgetary Conditions) This bill directs the SCDE to develop and adopt a statewide program for identifying fiscal practices and budgetary conditions that, if uncorrected could compromise the fiscal integrity of a school district. The bill outlines three levels of fiscal and budgetary concerns – fiscal watch, fiscal caution, and fiscal emergency.  The bill outlines the conditions and requirements associated with each level.

o   Action: The subcommittee carried over the bill due to lack of time.

·         H. 3220 – (EEDA Coordinating Council) This bill reinstates the original language from the EEDA codified in 2005. It delineates the membership, duties, and functions of the Council. The bill specifies a five-year sunset provision.

o   Action: The subcommittee gave a favorable report to the bill and it now moves to the full committee.

Senate Judiciary Subcommittee

·         S. 28 – (Religious Instruction) This bill codifies the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in the Moss vs Spartanburg 7 court case.  The bill allows the transfer of high school credit for religious instruction from an accredited private school to a public high school even if the course is taught by an unaccredited body.

o   Action: The subcommittee gave a favorable report to the bill and it now moves to the full committee.

·         S. 169 – (Teen Dating Violence) This bill requires that teen dating violence education be integrated into the Comprehensive Health Education standards and that developmentally appropriate instructional units be selected or developed for kindergarten through grade five; six through eight; and once in grades nine through twelve.

o   Action: The subcommittee carried the bill over to work on amendments based upon the testimony received.

 

Legislative Update – March 10, 2017

My note – A $50 increase in Base Student Cost will not even fund a step increase for District employees.  FM

The eighth week of General Assembly was spent with clearing the calendar in the House to prepare for the budget debate.  The House will gavel in on Monday at 1:00 pm to begin work on its version of the 2017-18 Appropriations Bill.

Senate Amends Roads Bill

H. 3516 – (Roads Bill):  After hearing an update from Transportation Secretary, Christy Hall, the Senate Finance Special Transportation Subcommittee amended the bill so that it would generate about $800 million annually instead of the $600 million in the House passed version. There are three major differences between the two versions of the bill.

·         In the House version of the bill, the gas tax would be increased by two cents over 5 years for a total of a 10 cents increase.  In the Senate version of the bill, the gas tax would be increased by two cents over 6 years for a total of a 12 cents increase.

·         In the House version of the bill, the sales tax cap on vehicle purchases would be increased from $300 to $500.  In the Senate version of the bill, the sales tax cap on vehicle purchases would be increased from $300 to $700.

·         In the Senate version of the bill there is no reform of the Department of Transportation.

The amended bill received a 7-2 favorable report and should be considered by the full Senate Finance Committee on March 14.

Senate Amends Pension Reform Bill

H. 3726 – (Pension Reform) On Wednesday, Senator Sheheen moved to “poll out” H. 3726 from the Senate Finance Committee.  The Senate agreed to the polling out of the bill and place it on the calendar.  On Thursday, Senator Sheheen offered a strike all and insert amendment to replace the language of the House bill with the Senate’s language found in S. 394.  The amendment was adopted and the amended bill was given a second reading vote of 38-0. With unanimous consent to give the bill third reading on Friday. The bill will be returned to the House with the question of concurrence in the Senate amendments.  The House will likely non-concur and the bill will head to a conference committee once the House finished its debate of the budget.

House of Representatives

Action Taken on the Floor

·         H. 3513 – (Retired Teacher Certification) This bill creates a new teacher certification credential for retired teachers who previously held a professional educator certificate. The credential is good for 30 years and exempts those holding the credential from having to complete any professional development requirements except those required by the district in which the individual is employed.

o   Action:  The House gave second (103-0) and third reading to the bill and it now moves to the Senate for consideration.

·        H. 3587 – (School Seizure Safety Taskforce) The bill creates a study committee and enumerates the membership of the committee. The committee is to examine issues related to epilepsy and seizure safety awareness in public schools.

o   Action:  The House gave second (93-6) and third reading to the bill and it now moves to the Senate Medical Affairs Committee for consideration.

·         H. 3792 – (Stadium Bathrooms) The bill sets minimum standards for the number of toilets and lavatories available for men and women at middle and high school stadiums.  The bill is aimed at relieving public school districts from having to meet the state’s current building code requirements for its stadiums.

o   Action: The bill was amended on Wednesday to effectively return the guidelines/codes for stadium renovations back to the 2015 codes.  In doing so the number of lavatories and toilets required would be significantly reduced.  The amended bill received second and third reading and was moves to the Senate Education Committee for consideration.

Ways and Means Committee

·         H. 3720 – (Appropriations Act):  In preparation for the budget debate, the House Ways and Means Committee provided a budget briefing on Wednesday to the membership. The following are the education highlights reported.

o   $100 million for capital improvements in a school district that was an Abbeville lawsuit plaintiff or with a poverty index of 80% or higher;

o   $38 million to increase the Base Student Cost by $50 to $2400 per pupil;

o   $19 million for SC Public Charter Schools student growth;

o   $10 million in the lottery for new school buses to move towards a 15-year replacement cycle; and

o   $3 million to help fund the cost of industry certifications.

 

·         Ways and Means Capital Needs and Bonding Subcommittee met on Tuesday morning to discuss a bond bill.  Each subcommittee presented the capital needs of its agency.  Representative Whitmire requested $95 million for replacement of all 1995 or older buses.

o   Action: The subcommittee only received reports from the budget subcommittees.

Ways and Means Subcommittees Actions

·         H. 3343 – (SC Education School Facilities Act): This bill establishes a mechanism to defray the costs of qualified school projects based on a prioritization report for needed school facility construction and renovations.

o   Action: The bill was amended and received a favorable report.  It now moves to the full Ways and Means Committee for consideration.

·         H. 3056 – (State Leadership Scholarship Program): This bill creates a scholarship program for “students who demonstrate leadership potential.”

o   Action: The subcommittee adjourned debate on the bill.

·         H. 3058 – (Lottery Game): This bill would create a new lottery game of which the proceeds would be allocated to the State Department of Education to facilitate accelerated learning of underachieving students.

o   Action: The subcommittee adjourned debate on the bill.

·         H. 3311 – (EEDA Pathways): This bill directs the State Board of Technical and Comprehensive Education, the State Department of Education, the Employment and Workforce, and the Department of Commerce to implement a Pathways Initiative in alignment with the EEDA. The initiative is to facilitate a seamless transition from K12 education to employment in industries with critical workforce shortages.

o   Action: The bill was amended and given a favorable report.

·         H. 3098 – (Tier IV Tax Deduction): This bill provides income tax deductions for teachers who reside and work in a Tier IV county or counties with a combination of the highest unemployment rate and the lowest per capita income.

o   Action: The subcommittee adjourned debate on the bill.

 

Senate

Action on the Floor

·         S. 199 – (Stopped School Bus) This bill authorizes the Department of Public Safety to issue a ticket to the owner of a vehicle that illegally passes a stopped school bus based upon the inspection of photographs, microphotographs, videotape, or other digitally recorded images produced by a digital recording system mounted on a school bus. It establishes civil penalties in an amount not to exceed $250 for the first offense and $500 for a second or subsequent offense. Appeals procedures are also outlined in the bill.

o   Action: The Senate gave second reading to the bill after adopting an amendment that would allow the registered owner to present certain evidence that he was not the driver at the time of the violation.

 

K-12 Education Committee

·         S. 389 – (Teachers of Tomorrow) The bill provides for another alternate route to obtaining a teaching certificate in the state. This bill authorizes the for-profit company, Teachers of Tomorrow, to certify teachers.  Per the bill’s preamble, the company is based out of Texas, has been operating for 11 years, and has certified more than 42,000 individuals.

o   Action: The Committee carried the bill over.  The Committee stated that the Alternative Certification regulation could be amended to allow the State Board of Education to approve this, and other alternative route certification programs as they come forward.

·         State Board of Education Regulations: The following regulations received a favorable report of the Committee.

o   Reg. 43-234 Defined Program, Grades 9-12 and Graduation Requirements.

o   Reg. 43-236 Career or Technology Centers/Comprehensive High Schools.

o   Reg. 43-258.1 Advanced Placement.

Letter To Legislators

Below is the letter I sent to our Legislative Delegation concerning the accountability proposal from the Education Oversight Committee that is now in front of the General Assembly.  While the proposal certainly has some very positive aspects, it also has some significant flaws.  I am sincerely hopeful that legislators will give this proposal serious scrutiny.  If you would like to comment to our Legislative Delegation, it consists of Senator Vincent Sheheen, Senator Thomas McElveen, Speaker Jay Lucas, Representative Laurie Funderburk, Representative Jimmy Bales, and Representative William Wheeler.  They can be contacted through the Legislative Liaison, Daniel Roberts, at delegation@kershaw.sc.gov.  I am concerned that this proposal will be characterized to legislators as a consensus, and it’s not.

February 23, 2017

Dear Legislative Delegation,

As you are aware, the Education Oversight Committee (EOC) has developed a proposed accountability system for public schools in response to the General Assembly’s direction from the 2016 Session. The Assembly’s direction was to develop a combined accountability system that would meet both state and federal mandates. Consolidating these systems is a good idea. Having a state and federal report card was both confusing and inefficient. The system proposed by the EOC is now to be acted on by the General Assembly. The purpose of this letter is to communicate what I see are some significant flaws in the proposal.

First and foremost, the new system does not really decrease the amount of testing in any meaningful way. It actually requires more testing than is required by the federal government. At a recent meeting of the Kershaw County Board of School Trustees, staff presented the Board a yearly calendar of required state tests that reflected some kind of testing potentially being done during 140 out of 180 school days. While I certainly understand and support accountability, this would seem excessive to anyone. It is no surprise that good and conscientious teachers are being driven from the profession because of this ever-increasing obsession with standardized tests.   It’s also not surprising that parents want public money for their children to attend private schools because private schools are not subject to these requirements. This over-emphasis on test results also causes schools not to take instructional time for enriching activities like field trips, artists-in-residence, assemblies, etc. This is an unfortunate reality in public education in our state.

The proposal relies heavily, much too heavily I believe, on the ACT as an indicator of college readiness. Cut scores in the elementary and middle grades are geared to a hypothetical statistical projection of whether or not a student will ultimately score a 22 on the ACT English and a 19 on the ACT Math. In my view, there are two problems with this approach. First, while the ACT is certainly a legitimate predictor of success in college, the research strongly indicates that class rank (grades) is still the best predictor. The EOC has chosen to completely ignore this research. Second, as an educator with 42 years of experience doing about every job there is in a school district, I can tell you that trying to project where an elementary or middle school student will be in the eleventh grade is dicey at best. Certainly, we want students to be performing at grade level and growing academically each year. If they are, success in high school will take care of itself. However, I cannot understand or justify to a teacher or anyone else why the EOC has tied itself so exclusively to the ACT.

I would further point out that the cut scores for the various South Carolina high-stakes tests are among the highest in the country. While I have no issue with high standards and rigor, the level of these cut scores will have the unintended consequence of faulty comparisons between South Carolina and other states. For example, it might appear that fewer students in South Carolina are reading on grade level than in other states, when in reality, the comparison would be skewed because of lower standards and cut scores in other states. Actually, this already happens and the EOC proposal will make it worse.

Finally, I have deep concern about the fact that only a four-year graduation rate will be considered for report card ratings. What is so magical about 4 years? Especially given the difficult environments in which many of our students live, graduating in 4.5 or 5 years is a noteworthy accomplishment. I also don’t understand why a student who earns a GED during normal high school years is not counted as a graduate for the purposes of accountability. If you think a GED is a cakewalk, I invite you to go to your community’s Adult Education Center and take the TABE, which is a test used to determine a student’s readiness for the GED. I simply don’t understand why a student who graduates within five years or earns a GED is not considered a legitimate graduate for accountability purposes.

I apologize for the length of this letter. I would end by saying that the flaws in this proposal clearly point to a major structural problem in terms of educational governance in our state. The makeup of the EOC guarantees that politicians and the business community will drive EOC proposals. While I believe that individuals from these areas have important perspective to offer, they do not have a “hands-on” understanding of the complexities of schools in the year 2017. Education seems to be the only professional endeavor I can think of where mandates are driven by folks who generally have never worked in a classroom or a school.

My perception is that educators by and large do not fully support this proposal, but it was the best deal that could be cut with the EOC. This proposal needs close scrutiny by legislators

I hope this information is helpful. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or if I can be of service in any way. Thank you for your sincere dedication to our state.

Sincerely,

Frank E. Morgan, Ed.D.

Superintendent

 

cc: The Honorable Molly M. Spearman, Superintendent of Education

Ms. Melanie Barton, Executive Director, Education Oversight Committee

 

 

“Celebrating the Arts”!!!!!

This year’s “Celebrating the Arts” event was the best ever!!  It always amazes me that the old gym at Lugoff-Elgin High School can be transformed into an art exhibition space…..This year’s visual arts were outstanding!  Music from the Camden Middle Jazz Band and the LEHS Percussion Ensemble added to the ambiance.   The performing arts in the auditorium afterwards were also terrific.  I especially enjoyed the combined choirs doing “We are the World” as the finale!  Special kudos to Mr. Walker Cannada from ATEC for his great work with the program and to one of his students, Katlyn McLawhorn for her fantastic art work in the program.  Thanks also to Mr. Darrel Cooke for being the emcee!!!  He did a super job.  Finally, thanks to Ms. Connie Frith for the months (literally) of work she did to pull everything together and to our arts teachers for their tremendous work with their students.  A special night!!!!

Legislative Update – February17, 2017

House of Representatives

Action Taken on the Floor

·         H. 3036(Qualifications for State Superintendent of Education) This bill provides for the appointment of the State Superintendent of Education, the term of office, and the qualifications.

o   Action: The bill remains on the contested calendar.  No action was taken on the bill this week.

·         H. 3515 – (Hurricane Matthew) A joint resolution to provide for attendance waivers for schools in counties for which federal major disaster declarations were made because of Hurricane Matthew. The bill as amended by the subcommittee to require the districts to make up the three days required to be in its calendar, seek forgiveness of up to three days from the local board of trustees, seek forgiveness of up to three days from the State Board of Education and then, if additional forgiveness days are needed, seek up to five additional days from the local board of trustees.

o   Action: The bill received second and third readings in the House this week and has been sent to the Senate.

·         H. 3508 – (Eclipse Start Date) A joint resolution dealing with the school start date for next year.  The resolution states that school districts may begin school as early as Thursday, August 17, 2017 because of the solar eclipse. Districts beginning early must provide instruction on the solar eclipse and must provide a safe opportunity to view the eclipse.

o   Action: On Wednesday when the bill came up on the calendar, the bill received a “point of order” that it had not been on the calendar for 24 hours. The point of order was sustained and on Thursday a simple adjourn debate motion was made.  The bill should be discussed next week.

·         H. 3951(First Steps to School Readiness) The bill amends the current code to add specific reporting requirements and specify exact information required in each report. It also adds language that the board must ensure the fiscal and programmatic accountability of the administration of the State Office of First Steps.

o   Action: On Wednesday when the bill came up on the calendar, the bill received a “point of order” that it had not been on the calendar for 24 hours. The point of order was sustained and on Thursday a simple adjourn debate motion was made.  The bill should be discussed next week.

K-12 Education Subcommittee Action

·         H. 3513 – (Retired Educator Certificate) The bill creates a new professional educator certificate for retired educators who previously held a professional certificate.  The retired educator certificate is valid for 30 years and exempts the holders of the certificate from having to complete any continuing education or renewal credit unless it is offered by the district.  The individuals teaching with a retired educator certificate would be hired annually with letter of agreement from the district.

o   Action: The subcommittee voted unanimously to report the bill out to the full committee. SCASA spoke against the bill.

·         H. 3415 – (Dyslexia Training for Teachers) The bill requires teacher education programs to provide three credit hours of instruction in identifying and assisting students with dyslexia.

o   Action: The bill was amended to add, in addition to dyslexia training, teacher education programs must provide instruction in “other reading disorders using multi-sensory, evidence based instructional methods.” Once amended the bill received a unanimous report to move it to the full committee.

·         H. 3587 – (Seizure Safety in Schools Study Committee) The bill creates a study committee and enumerates the membership of the committee. The committee is to examine issues related to epilepsy and seizure safety awareness in public schools.

o   Action: The bill was amended to add a school nurse and public school teacher to the list of members of the committee.  Once amended the bill received a unanimous report to move the bill to the full committee.

 

Ways and Means Proviso Subcommittee

The Ways and Means Proviso Subcommittee met on Tuesday to discuss all budget provisos (not just education).  The following proviso was offered by Chairman White and adopted by the subcommittee regarding renovations to high school stadiums.

117.ibc.(GP: IBC Requirements) For Fiscal Year 2017-18, high schools shall be exempt from Section 2902.1 A-5 of the 2015 International Building Code pertaining to the minimum plumbing requirements for stadiums, bleachers and grandstands.

Another action by the subcommittee was to pull out proviso 1A.NBCI dealing with the National Board supplement. Chairman White requested that the subcommittee carry over the proviso which it did. Chairman White stated he wants to include language to end the supplement to any newly certified teachers.

Ways and Means Legislative Subcommittee

·         H. 3726 – (Pension Reform) This bill is designed as phase I of multi-stage changes to the South Carolina Retirement System to deal with the system’s unfunded liability. The bill among other things

·         Increases and caps employee contribution rate at 9%.  The previous rate was 8.66%.

·         Increases employer contribution rate 2% effective July 1, 2017. The current rate is 11.56% which will increase to 13.56%. Each year after, the rate will increase 1% until it reaches 18.56% in 2023.

·         Provides for no reductions in the current cost of living allowances for retirees.

o   Action: The bill received a unanimous report to move it to the full committee.

Ways and Means Committee

·         H. 3726 – (Pension Reform) This bill is designed as phase I of multi-stage changes to the South Carolina Retirement System to deal with the systems unfunded liability. The bill among other things

·         Increases and caps employee contribution rate at 9%.  The previous rate was 8.66%.

·         Increases employer contribution rate 2% effective July 1, 2017. The current rate is 11.56% which will increase to 13.56%. Each year after, the rate will increase 1% until it reaches 18.56% in 2023.

·         Provides for no reductions in the current cost of living allowances for retirees.

o   Action: The committee adopted one amendment by Representative Cobb-Hunter which specifies that the Commission must be notified of an investment made through the delegation of authority to the chief investment officer within three business days of the investment’s closing and the investment must be reviewed with the Commission at its next regularly scheduled meeting. The amended bill received a unanimous vote to report it out to the House floor.

Judiciary Criminal Laws Subcommittee

·         H. 3055 – (Stop the School House to Jail House Pipeline Act) This bill creates the Restorative Justice Study Committee to review the juvenile justice laws of the State; requires school boards to adopt a policy of zero tolerance; and requires the Criminal Justice Academy to develop and implement a cultural competency model training program curriculum for school resource officers.

o   Action: The subcommittee removed all portions of the bill except the article creating the study committee. The subcommittee chair explained that the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee reported out an amended bill on disrupting schools and that the subcommittee would wait until it received the Senate bill and use it as a vehicle to address the “disturbing schools” concerns.

Senate

Action on the Floor

·         H. 338 – (Solar Eclipse) – A joint resolution dealing with the school start date for next year.  The resolution states that school districts may begin school as early as Thursday, August 17, 2017 because of the solar eclipse.

o   Action: The joint resolution received third reading on Tuesday and has been sent to the House for consideration.  The Senate version does not contain the language regarding teaching about the eclipse and the language about safely viewing the eclipse.

K-12 Education Subcommittee

·         43-62: Requirements for Additional Areas of Certification changes – give the SBE and SCDE the authority to create, amend, or delete areas of initial certification, add-on certification, specialized endorsements, and specialized alternative certification.

o   Action: The subcommittee voted to ask the full committee to request the regulation be withdrawn and resubmitted. The subcommittee would like the State Board of Education to add language that would give them the authority to approve alternative certification groups such as ABCTE to offer teacher certification. A group called “Teachers for Tomorrow” would like to be able to go through the State Board of Education for approval rather than having to go through statute (S. 389) in an effort to begin supplying teachers in time for the next school year.

Senate Judiciary Subcommittee

·         S. 131 – (Disturbing Schools) This bill removes students enrolled in a school from being charged with disturbing schools. The bill allows only those that are expelled/suspended and return to the campus or others who are not enrolled students to be charged with disturbing schools. The bill lists specific actions that constitute disturbing schools.

o   Action: After much discussion in support of removing students from this charge, the Sheriff’s Association discussed an amendment that maintains the ability to charge an enrolled student with disturbing schools only when they “substantially interfere with or disrupt” the school.  The subcommittee agreed to refine the language of the amendment to ensure that charging a student is “the last resort.” The amended bill was reported out favorably to the full committee.

 

Legislative Update – February 10, 2017

The fifth week of General Assembly was all about the report from the Joint Committee on Pension Systems Review and the introduction of the bill to deal with South Carolina’s crumbling infrastructure (i.e. roads bill). Listed below are the actions of the House and Senate and its respective subcommittees.

Joint Committee on Pension Systems Review

After months of debate and testimony, the Joint Committee on Pension Systems Review released its recommendations on Wednesday afternoon. On Thursday both the House and the Senate filed identical bills in its respective bodies.

The House bill is H. 3726 and the Senate bill is S. 394.  Highlights of the bills include

·         Increasing and capping employee contribution rate at 9%.  The previous rate was 8.66%.

·         Increasing employer contribution rate 2% effective July 1, 2017. The current rate is 11.56% which will increase to 13.56%. Each year after, the rate will increase 1% until it reaches 18.56% in 2023.

·         No reduction in the current cost of living allowances for retirees.

House of Representatives

Action Taken on the Floor

·         H. 3036(Qualifications for State Superintendent of Education) This bill provides for the appointment of the State Superintendent of Education, the term of office, and the qualifications.

o   Action: On Thursday, the debate began with tabling the committee amendment and offering an amendment which mirrors the one passed in the Senate last week. Many concerns were raised over the qualifications being too restrictive.  One member suggested that the master’s degree requirement be dropped and substitute “advanced degree.” Another member thought that the qualifications were worded in such that only someone from the education field could qualify. The last concern raised was that retired military may not have a master’s degree and therefore would not qualify. Debate was adjourned until next week.

K-12 Education Subcommittee Action

·         H. 3515 – (Hurricane Matthew) A joint resolution to provide for attendance waivers for schools in counties for which federal major disaster declarations were made because of Hurricane Matthew. The bill would not require these districts to have to make up the required three days and in addition to what is already in statute, these districts could have up to an additional five days forgiven.

o   Action: On Wednesday morning, the subcommittee adopted an amendment that would require FEMA districts to make up the three days required to be in its calendar, seek forgiveness of up to three days from the local board of trustees, seek forgiveness of up to three days from the State Board of Education and then, if additional forgiveness days are needed, seek up to five additional days from the local board of trustees. The subcommittee voted unanimously to move the bill to the full committee.

K-12 Education Committee Action

·         H. 3508 – (Eclipse Start Date) A joint resolution dealing with the school start date for next year.  The resolution states that school districts may begin school as early as Thursday, August 17, 2017 because of the solar eclipse. Districts beginning early must provide instruction on the solar eclipse and must provide a safe opportunity to view the eclipse.

o   Action: The bill as amended by subcommittee last week received a unanimous vote to move the bill to the House.

·         H. 3951(First Steps to School Readiness) The bill amends the current code to add specific reporting requirements and specify exact information required in each report. It also adds language that the board must ensure the fiscal and programmatic accountability of the administration of the State Office of First Steps.

o   Action: The bill received a unanimous vote to move the bill to the House.

·         H. 3515 – (Hurricane Matthew) A joint resolution to provide for attendance waivers for schools in counties for which federal major disaster declarations were made because of Hurricane Matthew. The bill as amended by the subcommittee to require the districts to make up the three days required to be in its calendar, seek forgiveness of up to three days from the local board of trustees, seek forgiveness of up to three days from the State Board of Education and then, if additional forgiveness days are needed, seek up to five additional days from the local board of trustees.

o   Action: On bill received a unanimous vote to move the bill to the House.

 

Ways and Means K-12 Subcommittee

The Ways and Means subcommittee decided to meet one last time before the Proviso Subcommittee meeting next week.  Changes to a few provisos were made and are listed below.

·         1.69 – (Teacher Salary Study Committee) as amended moves the date of the taskforce recommendations to October 1, 2017.

·         1A.9 – (Teacher Supply Funding) as amended specifies that a school district must notify individuals who qualify for the funds by May 15th the way they will receive the funds.  The amended language gives the district the option of providing a check, doing a direct deposit so long as it is not included in their base salary, or prepaid card.

 

Senate

Action on the Floor

·         H. 338 (Solar Eclipse) – A joint resolution dealing with the school start date for next year.  The resolution states that school districts may begin school as early as Thursday, August 17, 2017 because of the solar eclipse.

o   Action: The joint resolution received second reading on Thursday.  Third reading is scheduled for Tuesday and would then be sent to the House.  The Senate version does not contain the language regarding teaching about the eclipse and the language about safely viewing the eclipse.

Finance K-12 Education Subcommittee

Senate Finance K-12 Education Subcommittee began its budget hearings with a lofty agenda.  The subcommittee heard budget requests from seven state agencies. The discussions began with the Education Oversight and continued covering Archives and History, the Arts Commission, the School for the Deaf and Blind, the Confederate Relic Room, the State Library and Wil Lou Gray Opportunity School. The Subcommittee will continue to meet over the next few weeks hearing from the remaining agencies and discussing provisos.

 

Education K-12 Subcommittee

The Senate Education K-12 Subcommittee met to discuss the following State Board of Education Regulations:

·         43.51: Certification Requirements changes – clarify that both content and pedagogy examinations must be presented for certification; clarify the experience requirement necessary for an out-of-state educator to qualify for a professional certificate; include provisions for issuing certificates for qualifying participants in all currently approved alternative certification pathways; remove specific organizational names as the names often change.

·         43-53: Credential Classification changes – delete temporary, transitional, and graded certificate types that are no longer issued; delete the special subject certificate which is no longer issued; and modify language to reflect ESSA requirements;

·         43-62: Requirements for Additional Areas of Certification changes – give the SBE and SCDE the authority to create, amend, or delete areas of initial certification, add-on certification, specialized endorsements, and specialized alternative certification;

·         43-205: Administrative and Professional Personnel Qualifications, Duties, and Workloads changes – remove references to NCLB; clarify terminology and provide legal citations to professional personnel for qualifications and duties;

·          43-234: Defined Program, Grades 9-12 and Graduation Requirements changes – address CATE completer requirements, language referencing CATE, and language referencing ESSA; remove NCLB references; add emergency closing language to coincide with the new state statute;

·         43-236: Career or Technology Centers/Comprehensive High Schools changes -provide CATE students more flexibility in personalizing their program of study by changing the current four minimum required units to three units; and

·         43-258.1: Advanced Placement changes – current requirement of 45 hours of training to 30 hours of training to receive an AP endorsement.

o   Action: The subcommittee gave a favorable report to all regulations except the regulation dealing with additional areas of certification.  Members were unsure if they should be giving up the authority to approve the requirements for additional certification areas and wanted a little more time to examine the pros and cons.

 

Archery!!!!!!

I was excited about the excellent showing of our Archery Teams at yesterday’s regional competition:

In the Elementary Division, Blaney Elementary placed first and Doby’s Mill Elementary placed third.

In the Middle School Division, Stover Middle placed first and Camden Middle placed third.

In the High School Division, Lugoff-Elgin High placed third.

Way to go!!