Legislative Update – January 23, 2015

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

On January 20, Speaker of the House, Jay Lucas, announced the formation of the House Education Policy Review and Reform Task Force.  The task force includes of lawmakers, educators, business leaders and representatives from the plaintiff school districts.  This task force will examine ways to improve the state’s public schools and make policy recommendations in this regard.  Its policy recommendations are due in January 2016.  Among other things, this task force will examine:

  • the state’s education funding mechanisms
  • the school year calendar with an emphasis on how to fulfill the 24 credits needed to graduate
  • education standards, with an emphasis on STEM
  • addressing the requirements placed on school districts with a focus on either consolidation or eliminating mandates

The Ways and Means Public Education and Special Schools Subcommittee held two hearing between January 20 and 21, 2015 in which it received informational briefings from ETV, Wil Lou Gray, First Steps, The Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, The Governor’s School for Math and Science, and the South Carolina Public Charter School District.

On January 21, the Education and Public Works Committee invited Superintendent Spearman to give an overview of her vision for the South Carolina Department of Education.  SCASA along with other organizations were also invited to introduce themselves to the newly appointed members of the Education and Public Works Committee.  Beth Phibbs introduced Jonathan Rauh as the new Director of Governmental Affairs and introduced Legislative Interns Hazel Bridges and Ryan Bailey.

SENATE

 The Senate K12 Education Subcommittee and Full Senate Education Committee met on Thursday, January 22.  The following bills were discussed:

349 (Read to Succeed): This bill extends the deadline for requiring the State Board of Education to approve the state reading proficiency standards from February 1, 2015 to June 15, 2015.  A companion bill (H.3328) was introduced in the House and was referred to the Education and Public Works Committee. S.349 was reported favorably out of both the K12 Subcommittee and the full Senate Education Committee.

  1. 154 (Interscholastic Activities): This bill grants the authority to the State Board of Education to grant waivers allowing students to participate in interscholastic sports if they have been medically cleared after a long-term absence due to a medical condition, provided that approval is given by the Superintendent of the student’s district and the Athletic Director at the student’s school.  All other requirements as put forth by the High School League still apply.  It was reported favorably out of the K12 Subcommittee and full Senate Education Committee.

 President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Hugh Leatherman, has formed a Special Senate Committee to address the requirements of the recent state Supreme Court decision in Abbeville v. South Carolina. The members of the committee have not yet been announced

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