The gavel fell on the regular session on the first regular session of the 120th South Carolina General Assembly yesterday at 5:00. The budget conferees were appointed by both bodies and they begin their deliberations today. The Senate conferees are Senators Hugh Leatherman, Harvey Peeler and Nikki Setzler. The House conferees are Representatives Brian White, Gary Simrill, and Mike Anthony. The conference committee will meet today and next Friday to work out the budget differences. Once the conference report is adopted by the committee, it will then be reviewed and voted on by both legislative bodies. Hopefully, this will occur the week of June 18th. We will keep you informed as the process develops.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
On Wednesday, June 5th, the House adopted a $10 million tuition tax credit plan as part of a budget proviso amendment. Rep. Eric Beddingfield’s amendment differs from the Senate version in that it expands the tax credit to include low income children and not just “exceptional needs” children. It also expands the Senate cap of $5 million to a new $10 million cap. The amendment was adopted by a 68-48 vote.
The Senate expansion of CDEPP has been changed dramatically. The House, by proviso, creates a 4K state ABC voucher (private day care) with 10 million of the funds and the vast majority of the rest of the funds go to First Steps (private day care) for their expansion of CDEPP.
Reprentatives Owens and Hayes proposed the following amendment (6A) which was adopted:
For the current fiscal year a student’s score on the exit exam may not be used as criterion for graduation and a student must not be required to achieve any minimum score to graduate. An eligible student who previously failed to receive a high school diploma or was denied graduation solely for failing the required exit exam may reenroll in high school and will not have to pass the exit exam in order to receive a high school diploma. The State Board of Education shall waive any conflicting requirements and regulations.
There is created a High School Assessment Study Committee. The study committee must be composed of the following members who will serve without compensation:
(1) one member appointed by the Governor;
(2) one member appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives;
(3) one member appointed by the Chairman of the House Education and Public Works Committee;
(4) one member appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate;
(5) one member appointed by the Chairman of the Senate Education Committee;
(6) one member appointed by the State Superintendent of Education, who shall serve as chair of the committee; and
(7) one member appointed by the Chairman of the Education Oversight Committee.
(C) Vacancies in the membership of the study committee must be filled for the remainder of the unexpired term in the manner of original appointment.
The committee must consider whether the High School Assessment Program (HSAP) test should remain the State’s accountability assessment or to replace it with a different assessment. Further the committee must suggest an alternative assessment if the committee determines that the HSAP should be replaced and shall review the costs associated with a change of assessments. No later than January 31, 2014 the committee shall make recommendations concerning proposed changes to the Chairman of the House Education and Public Works Committee, the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the Chairman of the Senate Education Committee and the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, at which time the study committee must be dissolved. Staff will be provided by the Senate Education Committee and the House Education Committee/
The amendment suspends the exit exam requirement for graduation next year but does not suspend the administration of or the use of the scores in school and district report cards. Your students will still be required to take the test, which won’t count because of the graduation requirement waiver, and the scores from the test will be used in the report card ratings because the use of theses scores was not suspended.
Bills on the House floor:
H. 3365 (Mental Health Counseling) The bill originally required each public school in South Carolina to employ a licensed school psychologist on a full-time basis. The bill was amended in subcommittee with a strike and insert that establishes a School Safety Task Force that will meet and report their recommendations to the General Assembly no later than December 31, 2013. After some discussion, the committee adopted the subcommittee amendment unanimously. The House adjourned debate.
H. 3383 (Attendance in a Public School District) The bill eliminates the provision allowing a child to qualify for attendance in a school district if he or she has property in the district in his or her name that has an assessed value of three hundred dollars or more. The bill was amended in subcommittee to grandfather in students who currently have property within the district in their name. Currently, in order to attend a school in a district in which he or she doesn’t reside, a student must have property in their name within that district with an assessed value, not a market value of $300 or more – the property tax assessed on the property, not the value of the property itself, would have to be $300 or more. The committee adopted the subcommittee (grandfathering) amendment with a 9-7 vote. The bill was recommitted to Ways and Means.
H. 3061 (Student Athlete Concussions)The bill requires districts to adopt policies and procedures based on guidelines and procedures developed by the State Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), in consultation with the Department of Education, to develop and distribute guidelines and polices to address the risk of concussions sustained by student athletes. The bill also requires student athletes to be removed from play for a suspected concussion and not allow them to return to play until examination by a licensed health care provider. The bill was ratified on 6/4 and sent to Governor Haley.
H.3893 (Standards and Assessments) The bill requires that any new education standards and assessments adopted by the State Board of Education for use as an accountability measure must:
- Be developed and adopted upon the advice and consent of the Education Oversight Committee; and
- Not be implemented until approved by a Joint Resolution of the General Assembly.
The bill remains on the House contested calendar.
H. 3752 (Expanded Virtual Learning Act) This bill removes a cap on the number of online credits a student can receive through the SC Virtual Education program. The bill received third reading and was enrolled for ratification.
The following bills remain on the Senate calendar to be taken up January 14, 2014, when the General Assembly returns:
H.3853 (Alternate Education Campus) The bill outlines the process by which a charter school can be designated as an AEC, as well as the closure of low performing schools. Senator Hayes introduced a technical amendment, which was adopted. The bill remains on the calendar.
H.4020 (First Steps Reauthorization) Senator Fair asked the committee to bring the bill up for discussion. While the bill is also included in the budget, Senator Fair expressed concern over a funding lapse if the budget conference becomes gridlocked past the beginning of the fiscal year. The bill remains on the calendar.
S. 516 (Read to Succeed) The bill would create the South Carolina Read to Succeed Office in order to take a comprehensive, systematic approach to student reading performance. It also requires the Department of Education to create a State Reading Proficiency Plan by 2014, which would be accompanied by reading plans created by each of the individual school districts. Districts must identify reading insufficiencies in students prior to the third grade and offer intensive in-class intervention and summer reading camps for such students, which must be conducted by reading interventionists who possess an add-on reading endorsement. In order to earn this endorsement, teachers may be required to take up five courses; administrators would be required to take two courses. Higher education institutions offering a master’s in education program with a focus on literacy would be required to offer such research-based courses, and teachers and administrators would have up to seven years to complete this requirement. Beginning in the 2015-2016 school-year, students may be held back in the third grade if they do not demonstrate proper reading ability, unless exempted for good cause. Training and support would be provided to districts by the Read to Succeed Office. A fiscal impact summary for the bill is pending. The bill remains on the calendar.
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