Legislative Update – February 13, 2015

On Monday, February 9th, the Education Oversight Committee endorsed the Profile of the Graduate, the South Carolina Department of Education’s vision of what students will need in order to not only graduate but to be successful in their post-secondary endeavors.  As a reminder, the Profile of the Graduate was developed as a collaborative effort between SCASA, the South Carolina business community, and the state’s colleges and universities.  As noted by several members of the EOC, although the Profile of the Graduate is not a prescriptive document, it does recognize the necessity of attaining both the academic skills necessary for success in K-12 and beyond, as well as the soft-skills desired by employers and universities in assessing potential candidates.

The State Board of Education met Wednesday, February 11th.  At this meeting multiple speakers testified in favor of the new Math standards.  The Math standards were ultimately granted first reading by the committee.  A special thanks to SCASA members Harriet Jaworowski and David Mathis for testifying in favor of the new Math standards.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

The Ways and Means Committee met on Tuesday, February 10th and Wednesday, February 11th to address the budget provisos for the upcoming year.  All Education provisos were adopted by the committee:

1.3. (SDE: EFA Formula/Base Student Cost Inflation Factor) Increases the base student cost to $2,220.

1.20. (SDE: School Bus Purchase)  Any procurement of school buses must meet the specifications developed by the School Bus Specification Committee as established by the State Superintendent of Education.  Strikes references to Georgia and North Carolina and adds reference to another state with regards to identifying bus specifications which are, “safe, more economical, and in the public interest.”

1.28. (SDE: School Districts and Special Schools Flexibility) All school districts and special schools of this State may transfer and expend funds among appropriated state general fund revenues, Education Improvement Act funds, Education Lottery Act funds, and funds received from the Children’s Education Endowment Fund for school facilities and fixed equipment assistance, to ensure the delivery of academic and arts instruction to students.  However, a school district may not transfer funds allocated specifically for state level maintenance of effort requirements under IDEA, funds allocated specifically for state level maintenance of effort requirement for federal program, funds provided for the Education and Economic Development Act, funds provided for Career and Technology Education, nor  required for debt service or bonded indebtedness.  All school districts and special schools of this State may suspend professional staffing ratios and expenditure regulations and guidelines at the sub-function and service area level, except for four-year old programs and programs serving students with disabilities who have Individualized Education Programs.

1.43. (SDE: Residential Treatment Facilities Student Enrollment and Funding) If clinically appropriate, the facility school district, the Residential Treatment Facility (RTF), and the parent or guardian of a student referred or placed in a RTF may consider the appropriateness of providing the student’s education program virtually through enrollment in either the facility district’s virtual program, the South Carolina virtual school program provided through the Department of Education (Virtual SC), or a virtual charter school authorized by the South Carolina Public Charter School District, or a virtual charter school authorized by an approved institute of higher education.

1.65. (SDE: Instructional Materials) Beginning with the 2015-16 school year, funds for instructional materials (print and/or digital) will be based on student enrollment and instructional material need The Department of Education shall create an instructional materials list composed of those items (print and/or digital) that have received State Board of Education approval through the normal adoption process.  The Department of Education will continue to work with the publishers of instructional materials to ensure that districts who wish to receive both the digital version and class sets of textbooks may be awarded that option.

Funds appropriated for the purchase of textbooks and other instructional materials may be used for reimbursing school districts to offset the costs of refurbishing science kits on the state-adopted textbook inventory, purchasing new kits from the central textbook depository, or a combination of refurbishment and purchase.  The refurbishing cost of kits may not exceed the cost of the state-adopted refurbishing kits plus a reasonable amount for shipping and handling.  Costs for staff development, personnel costs, equipment, or other costs associated with refurbishing kits on state inventory are not allowable costs.

Funds provided for Instructional Materials may be carried forward into the current fiscal year to be expended for the same purposes by the department, school districts, and special schools.

1.75. (SDE: Charter School Transition Funds) For Fiscal Year 2015-16, charter schools sponsored by a local school district and located in a district receiving transition funds must receive transition funds from the local district in an amount equal to any reduction in funds received by the school due to the changes in the Education Finance Act formula.  If the amount of transition funds for the charter schools exceeds the school district’s allotment of transition funds, transition funds will be reduced pro rata for all parties.

1A.10. (SDE-EIA: XII.C.2-Teacher Supplies)  Updates references to the tax credit provided for teacher supplies to reflect the 2015 tax year as opposed to the 2014 tax year.

1A.15. (SDE-EIA: School Districts and Special Schools Flexibility) All school districts and special schools of this State may transfer and expend funds among appropriated state general fund revenues, Education Improvement Act funds, Education Lottery Act funds, and funds received from the Children’s Education Endowment Fund for school facilities and fixed equipment assistance, to ensure the delivery of academic and arts instruction to students.  However, a school district may not transfer funds allocated specifically for state level maintenance of effort requirements under IDEA, funds allocated specifically for state level maintenance of effort requirement for federal program, funds provided for the Education and Economic Development Act, funds provided for Career and Technology Education, nor  required for debt service or bonded indebtedness.

1A.16. (SDE-EIA: Teacher Salary Supplement)  The department is directed to carry forward prior year unobligated teacher salary supplement and related employer contribution funds into the current fiscal year to be used for the same purpose.  Any unexpended funds in teacher salary supplement may be used to fund shortfalls in the associated employer contribution funding in the current year.

1A.18. (SDE-EIA:  Assessment) The department is authorized to carry forward into the current fiscal year, prior year state assessment funds for the purpose of paying for AP examinations administered in the previous year, paying for administration of assessments specifically due to increased enrollment, and paying for state assessment activities not completed by the end of the fiscal year including the scoring of the spring statewide accountability assessment.  Reimbursements shall resume in the current fiscal year for PSAT.

1A.28. (SDE-EIA: Adult Education) Changes the manner in with the additional funds (after the  minimum of thirty percent of the funds appropriated for adult education have been allocated to school districts to serve adult education students between the ages of seventeen and twenty-one who are enrolled in programs leading to a state high school diploma, state high school equivalency diploma (GED), or career readiness certificate).  This specifies that the remaining funds will be allocated to districts based on a formula which includes factors such as target populations without a high school credential, program enrollment the previous school year, number of students making an educational gain the previous school year, and performance factors such as number of high school credentials and career readiness certificates awarded the previous school year.

1A.33. (SDE-EIA: Centers of Excellence) Of the funds appropriated for Centers of Excellence, $350,000 must be allocated to the Francis Marion University Center of Excellence to Prepare Teachers of Children of Poverty to expand statewide training for individuals who teach children of poverty through weekend college, nontraditional or alternative learning opportunities.  Strikes references to, “Increased Funds provided to the Centers for Excellence by the Commission on Higher Education in Fiscal Year 2014-15.”

1A.34. (SDE-EIA: IDEA Maintenance of Effort) By December 1, 2015, the Department must submit an estimate of the IDEA MOE requirement to the General Assembly and the Governor.

1A.38. (SDE-EIA: Career and Technology Education Consumables) A maximum of  twenty five percent of the funds appropriated for Modernize Vocational Equipment, Career and Technology Education may be utilized to purchase textbooks, instructional materials and other consumables used in classroom instruction.

1A.39. (SDE-EIA: XII.C.2. Teacher Salaries/SE Average) The projected Southeastern average teacher salary shall be the average of the average teachers’ salaries of the southeastern states as projected by the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office.  For the current school year the Southeastern average teacher salary is projected to be $49,796.  The General Assembly remains desirous of raising the average teacher salary in South Carolina through incremental increases over the next few years so as to make such equivalent to the national average teacher salary. The statewide minimum teacher salary schedule used in Fiscal Year 2012-13 will continue to be used in Fiscal Year 2015-16.

1A.48. (SDE-EIA: Technology Academy)  For Fiscal Year 2015-16 the Department of Education is directed to use available Modernize Vocational Equipment funds to continue to offer high schools across the state the opportunity to offer an IT certification.  The department shall maintain the number of high schools that participated and the number of students participating in the program and earning certifications.

1A.50. (SDE-EIA: XII.A.1 – Aid to Districts Draw Down) Removes references to specific fiscal years in favor of the current fiscal year, in order to draw down funds appropriated in Part IA, Section 1, XII.A.1, Aid to Districts, school districts, Palmetto Unified District and the Department of Juvenile Justice must work with local law enforcement agencies, and when necessary, state law enforcement agencies in order to ensure that the district has an updated school safety plan in place.

1A.56. (SDE-EIA: EOC-South Carolina Autism Society) Of the funds appropriated in Section 1A, XII.F, Partnerships, Education Oversight Committee (A85), $500,000 must be transferred in quarterly installments from the Education Oversight Committee to the South Carolina Autism Society for the Autism Parent-School Partnership Program.  Beginning October 10, 2015, the South Carolina Autism Society shall provide a quarterly accounting report to the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Education Oversight Committee.

1A.59. (SDE-EIA: Carry Forward) For Fiscal Year, EIA funds carry forward from the prior fiscal year and not otherwise appropriated or authorized must be carried forward and expended on the following items:

1. EOC – Partnerships for Innovation – $900,000;

2.    Any additional funds carried forward and not otherwise appropriated or authorized may be used for Instructional Materials.

If excess EIA revenues are less than the amounts appropriated, funding for the items listed herein shall be reduced on a pro rata basis.

1A.61. (SDE-EIA: South Carolina Public Charter School District Funding) Pupils enrolled in virtual charter schools sponsored by the South Carolina Public Charter School District shall receive $1,900 per weighted pupil and pupils enrolled in brick and mortar charter schools sponsored by the South Carolina Public Charter School District shall receive $3,600 per weighted pupil.

1A.63. (SDE-EIA: Public Charter School District Hold Harmless) For Fiscal Year 2015-16, the South Carolina Public Charter School District must use up to $3,000,000 in prior year carry forward funds to hold its schools harmless from any reduction in funds as a result of changes to the EFA weightings in the current fiscal year.

1A.64. (SDE-EIA: TransformSC) Of the funds appropriated to the Education Oversight Committee for Partnerships for Innovation, at least $400,000 shall be allocated to the TransformSC public-private project.

1A.67. (SDE-EIA: Prekindergarten and Kindergarten Assessments)  Specifies that all publically funded students entering a publicly funded prekindergarten or public kindergarten must be administered a readiness assessment approved by the State Board of Education that shall focus on early language and literacy development no later than the forty fifth day of the school year.

1A.68. (BabyNet Early Intervention Autism Therapy) Updates BabyNet funding to reflect the $814,348 appropriated to the Office of First Steps to School Readiness for BabyNet Autism Therapy.

1A.IHE. (SDE-EIA: Public Charter School Funding – Institution of Higher Education)  Pupils enrolled in a brick and mortar charter school authorized by an approved institution of higher education located in this state shall receive $3,600 per weighted pupil and pupils enrolled in a virtual charter school authorized by an approved institution of higher education located in this state shall receive $1,900 per weighted pupil  from the funds appropriated in Part IA, Section XI – South Carolina Public Charter School – Institution of Higher Education.

1A.IOM. (SDE-EIA: Interactive Online Music Program RFP) Directs the Department of Education to work with the Information Technology Management Office to issue Request for Proposals to seek qualified providers to provide an interactive online music program – costs not to exceed $800,000.

1.SBE. (Board of Education Funds) New proviso stating that for the current fiscal year, the Department of Education is authorized to carry forward funds appropriated in section II of the budget and that the State Board of Education is permitted to utilize these funds for innovative educational opportunities and projects. The Board of Education will develop guidelines and publish them on the board’s website.

3.4. (LEA: FY 2014-15 Lottery Funding) Funds appropriated to the Department of Education for the K-5 Reading, Math, Science & Social Studies Program shall be allocated to school districts to enhance the teaching of the grade specific standards adopted by the State Board of Education and to increase the academic performance of students in grades K-5 in the core academic areas of reading, mathematics, social studies, and science.  Of the appropriation from the lottery proceeds each year, $500,000 must be used for professional development and support to districts and special schools by the Department of Education.  The Department of Education is authorized to withhold up to $350,000 from the funds appropriated in order to provide technical assistance to school districts.

117.27. (GP: School Technology Initiative) K-12 technology initiative funds may also be used to establish pilot projects for new technologies with selected school districts as part of the evaluation process.  K-12 technology initiative funds shall be retained and carried forward to be used for the same purpose.

As a reminder, the House will debate the full budget on the floor beginning March 10, 2015

Note than on Tuesday, February 10th the Full House was scheduled to take up H.3041 (Appointment of Superintendent) which removes the Superintendent of Education from the list of elected state offices and places the position within the Governor’s cabinet.  However, debate was adjourned until February 18th.

On Tuesday, February 10th, the House Judiciary Committee took up:

H.3191 (FOIA Requirements) which, among other things would limit the fees that a public institution could charge for FOIA requests to not more than $100 per hour and would reduce the number of days a public institution had to respond to the request from fifteen (15) days to ten (10) days.  Creates the Office Of Freedom Of Information Act Review  within the Administrative Law Court and provides that when a public body receives requests which it views as unduly burdensome, overly broad, or otherwise improper that it may request a hearing from the Office of Freedom of Information Act Review. The bill was reported favorably.

On, Wednesday, February 11th, the Full Education and Public Works Committee took up four bills:

H.3432 (MLK and Memorial Day) requires that schools treat Martin Luther King Day and Memorial Day as holidays.  An amendment to require that MLK Day and Memorial Day not be available as make up days was defeated; however the bill itself was reported favorably by the Education and Public Works Committee.

H.3044 (180 days) revises the requirement that the term include one hundred and eighty instructional days to allow districts the flexibility of providing an alternative based on equivalent instructional hours.  This bill would essentially allow districts to meet the 180 day requirement by offering at minimum 1,080 instructional hours, plus lunch for secondary school students, (minimum of 1,080 hours including lunch for elementary students), in an academic year, i.e. 180 days at 6 hours per day equals 1,080 hours.  This bill was reported favorably by the committee.

H.3265 (CPR Instruction) requires that (as amended) beginning with all freshmen entering in 2016-2017 all students must receive at least one hour of instruction in hands-on CPR and the in conceptual use of an automatic electronic defibrillator (AED) at least once between grades 9 and 12.  Waivers are available for students who have IEPs or students whose parents sign a waiver releasing them from the instruction.  The bill encourages schools to partner with local institutions such as fire, police, and emergency rescue personnel in order to satisfy these instructional requirements.  An amendment was approved which alleviates students who have already satisfied their Health Education requirements from going back and retaking the CPR instruction.  The bill was reported favorably.

SENATE

On Thursday, February 12th, the Senate K-12 subcommittee reviewed and approved the following regulations promulgated by the department of education.  The Senate K-12 Subcommittee reported the following State Board Documents providing changes to regulations:

Document 4476 – Defined Program 6-8Regulation 43-232 establishes that each school district board of trustees shall ensure quality schooling by providing a rigorous, relevant curriculum for all students. Each school district shall examine the academic achievement standards adopted by the South Carolina State Board of Education. Elementary, middle, and high school faculty and staff shall work together to ensure that students are prepared to achieve these standards. When approved by the principal and the parents, a student promoted to the seventh or eighth grade may take units of ninth grade or higher work for school credit. The amendment will narrow the language to ensure high school credit given in the middle school level must be high school–level courses that have been approved by the South Carolina Department of Education.

Document 4477 –  Defined Program, Grades 9-12 and Graduation RequirementsRegulation 43-234 establishes that each school board of trustees must ensure quality schooling by providing a rigorous, relevant curriculum for all students. The regulation also stipulates that each school district must offer a standards‑based academic curriculum organized around a career cluster system that provides students with individualized education choices. The regulation also defines the graduation requirements for the state.  An amendment will remove the language referring to the exit examination as required for high school graduation. Another amendment will delete the recommended course section due to ever-changing recommendations.

Document 4491 – Adult EducationRegulation 43-259 – The State Board of Education is responsible for the administration, coordination, and management of adult basic and adult secondary (high school equivalency diploma and high school diploma) education for the purpose of facilitating and coordinating adult basic and adult secondary (high school equivalency diploma and high school diploma) education programs for South Carolina adults whose level of educational attainment is below high school, as prescribed by state and federal laws and regulations.  (Removes reference to the exit exam).

Document 4495 – Program for Assisting, Developing, and Evaluating Principal Performance (PADEPP)Regulation 43-165.1 defines the performance standards and criteria for assisting, developing, and evaluating principals in South Carolina. Regulation 43-165.1 also defines the rating scale for determining levels of effectiveness regarding a principal’s performance. The amendments will change the rating levels to specify that a satisfactory rating will be identified as “Proficient” or higher and an additional standard will be added to the present standards. The additional standard will be a Student Growth standard which will comprise a portion of the principal’s overall evaluation as specified in the guidelines approved by the State Board of Education.

Document Number: 4478 – Requirements for Additional Areas of CertificationState Board of Education Regulation 43-62 governs the requirements for add-on certification for educators in South Carolina. Amendments to Regulation 43-62 will (1) clearly define the terms add-on certification and endorsement and (2) remove specific requirements for add-on areas and endorsements from the regulation. The specific requirements for add-on areas and endorsements will then be promulgated in guidelines to be approved by the State Board of Education. These changes allow the Board to continue to provide appropriately qualified educators for South Carolina public schools and to address needed changes in educator training and preparation more readily

Document Number: 4494 – Procedures and Standards for Review of Charter School ApplicationsState Board of Education Regulation 43-601 governs the procedures and standards for review of charter school applications. The proposed amendments would align Regulation 43-601 to (1) recent changes to the South Carolina Charter Schools Act of 1996 and (2) the guidance and compliance provided to both sponsors and applicants by the South Carolina Department within the South Carolina Public Charter School Application Guidance.

The Senate K12 subcommittee returned the following regulations in order for the Department of Education to make the language conform to the requirements of the Education Accountability Act:

Document Number: 4529 – Assessment ProgramThe State Board of Education (SBE) proposes to amend Regulation 43-262. This regulation delineates requirements for assessment programs managed by the Office of Assessment. Amendments are being proposed to merge language from Regulations 43-260 and 43-262.4 into this regulation so that regulations governing assessments are in one regulation. Duplicative language resulting from merging the three regulations is deleted. In compliance with Section 59-18-310 of Act 155 that states that “students are no longer required to meet the exit examination requirements to earn a South Carolina high school diploma,” references to passing an exit examination as a condition for receiving a South Carolina high school diploma have been deleted.

Document Number: 4530 – End-of-Course TestsThe State Board of Education (SBE) proposes to repeal Regulation 43-262.4, End-of-Course Tests. The requirements of this regulation are to be merged with Regulation 43-262, Assessment Program.

Document Number: 4532 – Use and Dissemination of Test ResultsThe State Board of Education (SBE) proposes to repeal Regulation 43-260, Use and Dissemination of Test Results. The requirements of this regulation are to be merged with Regulation 43-262, Assessment Program.

Document Number: 4531 – Test SecurityThe State Board of Education (SBE) proposes to amend Regulation 43-100. Test Security. This regulation defines test security violations.

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