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.

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