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!!

 

 

Legislative Update – February 3, 2017

House of Representatives

Action Taken on the Floor

·         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. Representative Hill proposed and amendment that specifies a five-year sunset provision. The amendment was adopted.

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

·         H. 3221(Fiscal Accountability) 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 bill received second and third readings in the House and has been sent to the Senate.

·         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 Tuesday debate on the bill was adjourned until Wednesday, February 1.  On Wednesday, the bill was moved to the contested calendar for extended debate.

·         H. 3146 (Constitutional Amendment for Appointment of State Superintendent of Education) A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of South Carolina to delete the Superintendent of Education from the list of state officers which must be elected. The resolution specifies that the Superintendent would become an appointed position beginning in January 2023 or upon a vacancy in the office after the ratification of the constitutional amendment.

o   Action: On Tuesday debate on the bill was adjourned until Wednesday, February 1.  On Wednesday, the bill was moved to the contested calendar for extended debate.

·         H. 3427(South Carolina Computer Science Education Initiative) The bill requires the adoption of computer science standards and computational thinking skills for students in grades K-12. Beginning with the 2019-20 school year, all public high schools must offer at least one computer science course.

o   Action: On Tuesday debate on the bill was adjourned until Wednesday, February 1.  On Wednesday, debate was adjourned on the bill until Tuesday, February. 7.

K-12 Education Subcommittee 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.

o   Action: Representative Stringer offered an amendment, which was adopted, stating that any school opening prior to the third Monday in August would be required to give “grade appropriate instruction in science, mathematics, and other relevant instruction to students regarding the solar eclipse.” Additionally the amendment states that “students must be provided the opportunity to safely observe the eclipse prior to and during totality.” The amended bill received a favorable report.

·         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: The subcommittee discussed an amendment that would require these 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. Representative Bennett was concerned that if there was some catastrophic event that happened in Charleston, the district would not receive the same consideration as the FEMA identified districts in this joint resolution.  Representative Collins wanted more information regarding the exact number of days missed by students in the FEMA identified districts.  The motion to adjourn debate was made and carried by a vote of 7 to 0.

·         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: After receiving public testimony of support, the committee gave the bill a favorable report with a vote of 7 to 0.  However, Representative Bradley stated he was not in opposition of the bill, but that he just not like “unbridled growth of state government.”

Ways and Means K-12 Subcommittee

The Ways and Means subcommittee finished up its work on provisos on Wednesday.  Many of the changes were date changes to advance the proviso to the next fiscal year.  Any of the provisos that dealt with the appropriation of funds were adopted but with the “conform to funding” caveat.  Several provisos to note are listed below.

·         1.3 – The SCDE requested the BSC be determined at $2,500.

·         1.26/1A.14 – The EOC requested the requirement of formative assessments in grades one, two, and nine be deleted and funds for formative assessments be pulled out of the assessment line and flow directly to the school districts.   In addition, EOC requested an additional $1 million be added to the line. The recommendation is to allow districts the flexibility to purchase diagnostic assessments to identify students in the early grades who are not on track for meeting state standards and as they so choose for all other students in the district.

·         1.28 – added that in compensating for any deficit (previously stated “reduction in funding”) in funding the district must give priority to preserving classroom teachers and operations.

·         1.69 – amended to read that the SCDE will report the costs of increasing and modifying the state teacher salary schedule by August 1, 2017.

·         1.79/1A. 73 – advances the salary steps to 24 if a district’s salary schedule does not exceed 23.

·         1.SL (new) – provides funds from SCDE leadership development to be utilized to contract with a non-profit to deliver leadership skills development.

·         1A.30 – increases the BSC for students attending 4K by $99 as an inflation factor and provides a slight increase for private providers to cover the cost of transporting students.

·         1A.68 – allocates $125,000 from career and technical equipment funding to Palmetto Partners for Science and Technology for robotics completion, curriculum and support.

Senate

Action Taken on the Floor

·         S. 27 – (Qualifications for State Superintendent of Education) Provides for the appointment of the State Superintendent of Education, the term of office, and the qualifications. On Tuesday, Senator Massey requested that the bill be “set for special order.” The special-order request was approved and Senator gave a brief explanation of the bill and the Committee amendment (striking the word extensive and adding public as it pertains to the necessary experience needed to file for office). After the brief explanation and questions the Senate adjourned.  On Wednesday, the Senate continued debate for several hours regarding the qualifications to file for the 2018 election of the State Superintendent or to be appointed by the Governor after the 2018 election.

The Senate settled on a compromise amended offered by Senators Hutto and Massey which sets the following qualifications.

“minimum of a master’s degree and substantive and broad-based experience in the field of public education including, but not limited to, service as a classroom teacher, principal, other school or school district administrator, school district superintendent, or other education policy making body at either the state or local level or any combination of them; or

minimum of a master’s degree and substantive and broad-based experience in operational and financial management in any field of expertise including, but not limited to, finance, economics, accounting, law, or business.”

Action:  The compromise amendment was adopted and the Senate gave a favorable report on the amended bill.  The bill received third reading on Thursday and was sent to the House.

Legislative Update – January 27, 2017

The third week of session was one of great fanfare and historic moments.

Fruit Basket Turnover

With former Lt. Governor Henry McMaster being sworn in as the state’s 117th governor on Tuesday, a series of historic events took place.  Prior to the swearing in of McMaster, Senator Hugh Leatherman resigned as the President Pro Tempore of the Senate.  The individual holding that positions ascends to Lieutenant Governor when that position becomes open.  Senator Leatherman did not want to move into the position of Lieutenant Governor so Senator Leatherman resigned prior to the office becoming vacant.

Upon gaveling in on Wednesday the Senate received the message from Senator Leatherman regarding his resignation and then proceeded to elect a new President Pro Tempore of the Senate.  Senator Shane Martin nominated Senator Kevin Bryant for the position. Senator Bryant was elected.  After being granted “privilege of the floor” and making his remarks, Senator Bryant was sworn in as the state’s new Lieutenant Governor.

As the new Lieutenant Governor Bryant’s first act was to call for the election of President Pro Tempore.  Senator Luke Rankin offered Senator Leatherman and upon finishing his remarks, Senator Shane Massey offered Senator Harvey Peeler for the office as well.  Upon the conclusion of Senator Massey’s remarks the Senate proceeded to a vote.  Senator Leatherman was once again elected to the position of President Pro Tempore of the Senate by a vote of 28 to 16.  After the vote, the Senate adjourned for the day.

One Step Closer to an Appointed Superintendent

Both the House and the Senate made steady progress in advancing legislation to make the State Superintendent of Education an appointed position.

On Tuesday, January 24th, the Senate Judiciary Committee met to consider S. 137. This bill deals with the Constitutional amendment needed to make the position appointed.  Senator Malloy expressed in subcommittee his concern over the question’s wording and proposed an amendment in full committee to have the question phrased in such a way as to require the voters to cast a “no” vote to make this an appointed position.  An example question might be, “Do you want to retain the right to elect the State Superintendent of Education?” The amendment failed and the bill received a favorable report.  It is expected that Senator Malloy will address his concern once again when the bill is discussed on the Senate floor.

On Wednesday, January 25th, the Senate Education Committee gave a favorable report to the amended S. 27. This bill sets out the qualifications of the State Superintendent of Education.  Last week the bill was amended to specify that the education experience must be “public” education.  During the discussion of the bill, several members noted that they may amend further to strengthen the education requirements when the bill is discussed on the Senate floor. Senator Sheheen stated he plans to submit an amendment to clarify the timing of the various steps involved with transitioning the position from an elected to an appointed position, and to ensure a vacancy is clearly and appropriately provided for.

On Tuesday, January 24th, the House Judiciary Committee gave favorable reports to H. 3036, the House companion bill to S. 27, and to H. 3146, the House companion bill to S. 137.  Chairman Delleney offered an amendment to H. 3036, dealing with the qualification of the superintendent, to strike the word “extensive” which was adopted.  Two members, Representatives King and Norrell, voted against the bill.  House Bill 3146 received a favorable report with two members, Representatives Norrell and Rutherford, voting against the bill.  Now, as amended, all four House and the Senate bills are identical.

State Board of Education Regulations

The Senate Education Committee gave a favorable report to R 43-274.1 At-Risk Students (Document 4656) which included minor changes deleting references to PASS and HSAP. Even though R 43-80 Operation of Public Pupil Transportation Services (Document 4658) received a favorable report from the subcommittee, the full committee asked that the regulation be withdrawn and resubmitted to clarify the statutory references in the regulation. The full committee supported the subcommittee’s recommendation to have the SCDE withdraw and resubmit R 43-279 Minimum Standards of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Enforcement (Document 4657), and R 43-210 School Resource Officers (Document 4659).

House K-12 Subcommittee Action

The House Education and Public Works Committee met on Wednesday morning to discuss three education related bills that were approved by the subcommittee. The first bill, H. 3427, requires the State Board of Education to adopt grade appropriate standards for computer science and computational thinking and computer coding for grades 9-12 by August 2018, and requires each public high school and public charter school to offer at least one computer science course beginning with the 2019-20 school year. The fiscal impact statement presented to the committee generated a lot of discussion.  The fiscal impact statement shows a total impact to the state general fund for the Department of approximately $1.3 million over the first two years of implementation and a $19.2 million fiscal impact to the local school districts in fiscal year 2019-20, the third year of full implementation. The impact to local school districts was based upon hiring an additional computer science teacher for each high school.

The second bill, H. 3220, received a favorable report by the full committee.  It re-establishes the South Carolina Education and Economic Development Coordinating Council.  The makeup of the council is as it was established in the initial Education and Economic Development Act.

The final education bill, H. 3221, also received a favorable report by the full committee. This bill requires the Department of Education to implement a program for assisting and intervening in school districts exhibiting fiscal and budgetary concern.  The bill establishes three levels of fiscal concern – fiscal watch, fiscal caution, and fiscal emergency.  It outlines the various characteristics and procedures required at each level.

Education Oversight Committee Budget Request

On Tuesday, January 24th, the Education Oversight Committee presented their budget to the Ways and Means K-12 Subcommittee.  Melanie Barton presented on behalf of the Committee asked that the following be funded out of the Education Improvement Act.

  • Recurring Funds for Computer Science Task Force (New)                                                  $500,000
  • S2TEM Centers SC (Increase)                                                                                                     $1,250,000
  • State Agencies’ Teacher Salary (Increase)                                                                                $394,415
  • National Board Certification (Decrease)                                                                                  ($3,000,000)
  • SC ETV (Increase)                                                                                                                          $200,000
  • Teacher Supplies (Increase)                                                                                                         $357,500
  • CERRA – Teaching Fellows (Increase)                                                                                       $1,200,000
  • State Assessment Program (Decrease)                                                                                      ($2,044,000)
  • Industry Certifications/Credentials (Increase)                                                                         $4,000.000
  • Aid to Districts Diagnostic Support (New)                                                                                 $6,100,000
  • Accountability – Value Added (New)                                                                                          $1,400,000
  • SC Public Charter School District (Increase)                                                                             $22,898,631
  • Robotics (New)                                                                                                                                 $125,000
  • Department of Commerce (Increase)                                                                                          $150,000
  • SC Education Innovation Fund (Increase)                                                                                 $6,068,454

State Department of Education Budget Request

On Wednesday, January 25th, Superintendent Spearman presented the agency’s budget request. Listed below, in order of priority, are those that were discussed.

  • EFA: Increase base student cost to $2500. The subcommittee discussed the strain on locals with EFA required match.
  • School buses: $10 million in recurring funds and $95 million in nonrecurring funds to replace old inefficient buses (1800) that cost 41 cents per mile versus 21 cents per mile. There was discussion about lease options, as well as privatization. SDE stated they were looking at all options. The 15-year replacement cycle would require $34 million a year.
  • Technical Assistance: $4.4 million to bring in additional schools.
  • Power School: $1.6 million for security improvements.  However, members expressed concerns about data accuracy in Power School.  SDE advised that the funding is needed to do what the Legislature wants and to collect needed data.
  • Bus Driver Salary: to provide supplements to assist school districts in retaining and obtaining/competing for drivers.
  • Student Engagement Survey: $750,000
  • Virtual SC:  $3.75 million
  • CATE:  $3 million for CATE Office changes such as computer science and modernized vocational equipment.
  • Teacher Supplies: $357,000.
  • ADEPT: assisting, developing, and evaluating teachers.
  • Mechanic Salaries: funding for increases in mechanic salaries to support bus fleet.
  • Educator Evaluation System: $1.6 million.
  • Technical and Work Based Education: $1.9 million.
  • Instructional Materials: $53 million (supplies more than 42 million books).
  • Personalized Learning: $200,000

Senate Labor Commerce and Industry

The Senate Labor Commerce and Industry Committee met on Thursday, January 26th, to consider S. 218.  The purpose of the bill is to prevent local governmental entities from adopting their own laws or mandates related to requiring employee benefits on private sector businesses within their jurisdictions.  However, the local governments or political subdivisions can establish their own employee benefits for their own employees.  (See subsection D).  Senator Massey introduced the bill based upon a trend of similar legislation in other states and due to rumblings that some local political subdivisions in South Carolina where discussing passage of certain benefit requirements for all businesses in their districts that were more burdensome than state policy.  This legislation will provide a uniform policy for the state. The bill received a favorable report.

Legislative Update – January 20, 2017

The second week of session had a lot of action with many House and Senate full committees and subcommittees meeting to move bills to their respective calendars for discussion.

Appoint or Elect

Both the House and the Senate took up bills to appoint the State Superintendent of Education.  In both bodies the process of moving to an appointed position was divided into two bills. One bill deals with the referendum question and the other bill deals with the qualifications of an appointed superintendent.

On Tuesday, the Senate Education K-12 Subcommittee met to discuss S. 27 which sets out the qualification requirements of an appointed superintendent. The bill sets out two experience options by which an individual could qualify.  The first option is with

“extensive experience in the field of education including, but not limited to, service as a classroom teacher, principal, other school or school district administrator, school district superintendent, member of a school board, or other education policy making body at either the state or local level or any combination of them.”

The second option is with

“extensive experience in operational and financial management in any field of expertise including, but not limited to, finance, economics, accounting, law, or business.”

After extensive discussion, the subcommittee adopted an amendment to specify that the individual using the first option for qualifying must have “experience in the field of public education. “  The bill received a favorable as amended report and moves to the full Senate Education Committee agenda.

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee took up the referendum bill, S. 137.  This bill specifies that the State Superintendent of Education would become an appointed office beginning in January of 2023.  As explained in the meeting, if the resolution is enacted, voters would decide in 2018 if the office of superintendent should be appointed.  If approved by the voters, the last election of the State Superintendent of Education would take place in 2018 and the individual elected governor in 2022 would appoint the next superintendent upon taking office in January 2023. The bill received a favorable report and will be on the agenda for the full Judiciary Committee meeting on Tuesday, January 24.

The House Constitutional Laws Subcommittee discussed H. 3036, the companion bill to S. 27, and H. 3146, the companion bill to S. 137 on Thursday morning.  Both bills received a favorable report.  The subcommittee amended H. 3036 to specify that one of the options for qualifying for appointment is “extensive experience in the field of public education.” These bills will move to the next full Judiciary Committee agenda.

Accountability Recommendations Final

The Education Oversight Committee met on Tuesday giving their final approval to the Academic Standards and Assessment Subcommittee’s recommendations for a single state-wide accountability system.  Two amendments were offered to modify their recommendations and after much discussion were adopted.  The first amendment was offered by Senator Hembree. His amendment proposed to use the five performance rates of excellent, good, average, below average, and at-risk for both the summative and individual rating indicators. A second amendment was offered by Senator Matthews on behalf of Superintendent Spearman, a non-voting member of the committee.  This amendment reduced the number of state-wide assessments administered to students.  The subcommittee recommendation was to test science in grade four, social studies in grade five, and both science and social studies in grades 6-8.  The adopted amendment continues the rotation of science and social studies testing in the middle school with sixth graders taking science, seventh graders taking social studies, and eighth graders taking science. The plan will now be presented to the General Assembly for the drafting of legislation to implement the plan.

State Board of Education Regulations

The Senate Education K-12 Subcommittee moved two State Board of Education regulations to the full Senate Education Committee agenda and requested that the State Board of Education withdraw and resubmit two regulations.  The first regulation receiving a favorable report was R 43-274.1 At-Risk Students (Document 4656). Minor changes deleting references to PASS and HSAP were made to this regulation. The second regulation receiving a favorable report was R 43-80 Operation of Public Pupil Transportation Services (Document 4658). The purpose of the changes to this regulation is to allow for greater flexibility in certifying drivers to operate school buses.

Two regulations, R 43-279 Minimum Standards of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Enforcement (Document 4657), and R 43-210 School Resource Officers (Document 4659), did not receive favorable recommendations.  The subcommittee requested that these regulations be withdrawn and resubmitted with changes.  Several of the members were concerned that changes to the language in R 43-279 would lead to “criminalizing” student misconduct. R 43-210 was returned since it was seen as “traveling with” the previous regulation.

House K-12 Subcommittee Action

The House K-12 Subcommittee met on Wednesday morning to discuss three bills. The first bill, H. 3427, received a favorable report as amended. The amended bill requires the State Board of Education to adopt grade appropriate standards for computer science and computational thinking and computer coding for grades 9-12 by August 2018, and requires each public high school and public charter school to offer at least one computer science course beginning with the 2019-20 school year. In addition, the amendment offered on behalf of the State Department of Education by Representative Felder, requires the Department to offer professional development to teachers teaching computer science, assist districts in developing partnerships to engage students in computer science, and to outline educational and degree requirements for computer science teachers.

The second bill, H. 3220, received a favorable report.  It re-establishes the South Carolina Education and Economic Development Coordinating Council.  The makeup of the council is as it was established in the initial Education and Economic Development Act.

The final bill, H. 3221, also received a favorable report. This bill requires the Department of Education to implement a program for assisting and intervening in school districts exhibiting fiscal and budgetary concern.  The bill establishes three levels of fiscal concern – fiscal watch, fiscal caution, and fiscal emergency.  It outlines the various characteristics and procedures required at each level. This same bill was reported out of the House last session but failed to make it out of the Senate before time expired.

 

Glenn Price Honored

I was very excited to learn that Lugoff-Elgin High School Band Director Glenn Price is being inducted into the South Carolina Music Educators Association Hall of Fame.  This is a hugely deserved and long overdue honor!  Congratulations!