Legislative Update – May 9, 2014

The Senate budget floor debate this week has been long and at times, contentious. They will return on Tuesday at 10:00 to continue their debate.   You can follow the debate by clicking on the link, http://www.scstatehouse.gov and click on Senate Chamber video.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

On Tuesday, May 6th, the House K-12 Subcommittee met to review S.516 (Read to Succeed). The key provisions of S.516 are nearly identical to H.3994.  The amendment addresses the following:

New language combining the House and Senate versions of summer reading camps is used.  Senate language regarding transportation is removed.  Senate language requiring the Read to Succeed Office to assist districts in finding summer camp instructors is included.  Additionally, language that better explains that reading camps are designed primarily for students who are reading below grade level and do not meet an exemption is inserted. There is no cost for the camps for students who are in grades one through three.

House language requiring timely reporting to parents and supplemental instruction is reinserted.  Parents or guardians must be notified in a timely manner that a student will be retained, and may appeal the decision to retain.  A process for notifying and conferencing with parents about the possibility of retention is included.

Language from the original bill regarding add-on endorsements is incorporated.  New language recommended by the EOC stating that individuals who have completed a professional development course such as Reading Recovery, Project Read, the South Carolina Reading Initiative, or another program can submit transcripts to the Office of Educator Licensure to determine if they have the required coursework for the add-on certificate is incorporated.

Early middle and secondary education teachers must take at least one course or three credit hours, or the equivalent professional development hours as determined by the Read to Succeed Office, every five year.  Early childhood and elementary education teaches must earn a literacy teacher add-on endorsement within 10 years of their most recent certification by taking at least two courses or six credit hours, or the professional development hours as determined by the Read to Succeed Office, every five years. House language requiring literacy courses for school psychologists is reinserted.

The Senate codifies the Child Development Education Pilot Program (CDEPP).  The bill provides that the act is subject to the availability of state funding.   The bill received a favorable report as amended and will now go to the full House Education Committee.

On Wednesday, Mary 7th, the House Property Tax Subcommittee met and heard testimony on the following two bills:

S.940 (Education Capital Improvements Sales and Use Tax) The bill allows a county that does not collect a certain amount in accommodations tax to impose the sales tax so long as no portion of the county area is subject to more than two percent total sales tax.  Currently, the Education Capital Improvements Sales and Use Tax is limited to use by only Horry County and Charleston County school districts.  The bill was amended in the Senate to include 11 additional districts. The House Subcommittee amended it to include multi-district counties.  The bill received a favorable report as amended and now goes to the full Ways and Means Committee.

 

H.4407 (South Carolina Jobs, Education and Tax Act) The bill allows for the following:

  • Levy a uniform millage rate of 100 mills on all taxable property statewide in each school district (does not include homestead property).
  • Reduce approximately 70 separate state funding sources by rolling up the Education Finance Act, Homestead Exemption and some of the Education Improvement Act funds and allow districts more flexibility to use the funds for programs and services.
  • Roll-up the total funds from uniform millage, state revenues and state balancing funds and allocate to districts on a per-pupil basis which is base student funding.
  • Provide transition money to districts that currently spend more than the estimated base student funding; however, there is a phase-out period built in the model.
  • Retain separate categorical funds such as transportation, national board teacher certifications stipends, retiree insurance and 4K programs not included in the rollup funds.
  • Allow local school boards the authority to levy local millage of up to 8% of the assessed value of taxable property, excluding owner-occupied property (4%) as required by Act 388, to fund district operations above what the state allocates.
  • Require a referendum seeking voter approval if a local school board wants to fund districts operations using property taxes from homestead property. The subcommittee adjourned debate on the bill.

Bills on the House Floor:

S.1219 ((Negotiated salaries)  The joint resolution allow school districts to uniformly negotiate salaries below the school district salary schedule for 2014-15 through the 2019-2020 school year for retired teachers who are not participants in the Teacher and Employee Retention Incentive program. The provisions of this section expire on July 1, 2020. The bill was referred to House Education.

S.1194 (Summer Reading Camps) The joint resolution allows districts to meet the requirements of the 2014 summer reading camps by using summer reading program funds in the current budget year to partner with the State Department of Education’s Summer Reader Loss Prevention Project.  The partnership must provide school districts with books to set up free book fairs for summer reading camp-identified students.  The students must be allowed to select eight books based on their reading ability level and interest.  The book fair must be held at the end of the school year with students taking their books home for the summer accompanied with a reading log to be completed by the student.  Also, a school district that uses these funds for the partnership may carry forward any unexpended funds to be used for summer reading camp programs. The joint resolution received third reading and was enrolled for ratification.

SENATE

The Senate spent the week debating the budget and it will continue again next week.  At this point, there are no significant changes for K-12education.  However, when they adjourned last night, there were 100 amendments on the desk.

Senate Floor Actions:

H. 4921 (Negotiated salaries)  The joint resolution allow school districts to uniformly negotiate salaries below the school district salary schedule for the 2014-15 school year for retired teachers who are not participants in the Teacher and Employee Retention Incentive program. The joint resolution received third reading and was enrolled for ratification.

The following bills were referred to the Senate Education Committee:

H. 4061 (Sexual Abuse and Assault Awareness) The bill requires the State Board of Education to select or develop instructional units in sexual abuse and sexual assault awareness and prevention with separate units appropriate for each age level from four-year old kindergarten through twelfth grade.

H. 4914 (Students with a seizure condition) The bill authorizes certain school personnel to administer midazolam intranasally to students with a seizure condition. The bill also provides for immunity from liability with regard to administration of midazolam.

H. 4840 (High School Equivalency Diploma Accessibility Act) The bill requires that the State Board of Education to offer an alternative to the GED for individuals looking to receive a high school equivalency diploma. The bill was amended to include language that the test may be computer-based or offered in paper and pencil form.

H. 4458 (Winter holidays) The bill provides that a district may educate students about the history, customs and symbols of traditional winter celebrations including displaying scenes traditional associated with such celebrations.  The bill also states that students and staff may offer holiday greetings such as “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah.”

H. 3905 (Back to Basics in Education Act of 2013) The bill requires that students are taught cursive writing and memorization of multiplication tables by the end of fifth grade.  The bill was amended to add cursive writing materials to the instructional materials adoption list.

H. 4650 (Proficiency-based credits) The bill requires the State Board of Education to establish an optional proficiency-based system as an alternative to traditional seat-time requirements. Normal requirements of 120 seat hours would not apply to credits earned through a proficiency-based course. Example courses include distance learning, online learning, independent study, etc. The system must be optional for each school district.

H.3435 (Comprehensive Health Education Act) The bill greatly alters the comprehensive health education programs implemented by school districts. The bill would require reproductive health instruction to be medically accurate, while changing the grade levels at which this instruction would be offered. Under the bill, students must receive 12.5 hours of health education instruction during the ninth or tenth grade. The State Board of Education would be required to develop a health instruction unit every two years, and districts would be required to use the unit unless the district develops its own health instruction unit annually. Additional changes include the teaching of contraceptive methods in relation to pregnancy and disease prevention, rather than just future family planning. Also, the bill would remove the restriction that male and female students must be taught this information separately. Teachers providing comprehensive health instruction would undergo professional development in either reproductive health or pregnancy prevention every two years, and have a certificate in health education by August 1, 2016. In order to ensure compliance, each district would have to send an annual report to the State Department of Education by June 15.

The following bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee:

H.3532 (Childcare Providers) The bill directs the Citizen and Legislative Joint Committee on Children in conjunction with the Governor’s Child Care Advisory Board to hold public hearing and collect data on child care regulations.

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