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Legislative Report (Vol XXIV No 9) March 7, 2005 Funnel Week or Funny Week?

March 11, 2005

As stated in the previous report this was the first of the mandated "funnel" weeks to begin to pare down the number of eligible bills. In the House it was business as usual. In the Senate it was business as unusual. The House Education Committee passed numerous bills (listed below) that it desired further debate on in the coming weeks. The equally divided Senate Education Committee was unable to come to agreement on any bills it wished to move forward and just may have become the first committee that declined to even meet during a funnel week.

Senate Democrats wanted to debate and push forward Gov. Vilsack's education proposals, which included an anti-bullying bill, increased access to preschools, incentives for small districts to share, and expansion of the teacher pay and performance program.

Republicans wanted the committee to consider bills they favored, including testing of new teachers, tax credits for preschool costs, and changes in the measurement of student achievement.

Failure to resolve or compromise on these issues provided the impetus for the cancellation of these meetings. If these issues are to be resurrected it will be through the budget process.

On the other hand the House Education Committee passed the following bills:

  • HF 118 SCHOOL REORGANIZATION - Allows landowners in a school district undergoing reorganization to petition to join a contiguous school district and to appeal to the state board a decision of the AEA board pertaining to these petitions.
  • HF 303 KINDERGARTEN ENROLLMENT - Directs that half-day kindergarten and pre-kindergarten special needs pupils be counted as a one-half a pupil for enrollment count purposes. Now HF 732.
  • HF 409 LEARNING TECHNOLOGY COMMISSION - Creates an Iowa Learning Technology commission to administer the Iowa Learning Technology initiative. Establishes goals for the initiative for K-12 and requires the Regents to establish a research triangle involving the state universities.
  • HF 454 SCHOOL STARTING DATES - Requires the state Board of Education to adopt criteria of the DOE to use in approving requests for schools that want to start school before September.
  • HSB 20 DRIVER'S ED - Allows a parent or guardian who is home-schooling a child to teach driver’s education to the child if the parent has a license and a clear driving record for the last two years. Requires classroom instruction that is equivalent to that required in high schools, but doubles the driving hour requirements to 40. Requires that the instruction course be approved by the DOT.
  • HSB 228 EARLY INTERVENTION BLOCK GRANTS - Distributes 1/3 of the early intervention block grants to schools based on the number of students in grades 1-3 who read below grade level, rather than the number of students who receive free lunches. Requires an annual report by schools to the DOE on the number of students who read below grade level in 1-3, and requires the DOE to submit that information to the Education committees.
  • HSB 243 EDUCATION BILL II - Makes numerous education changes. Non-profits: Requires that school audits include any nonprofit school organization. Allows schools to establish a nonprofit organization after a hearing and makes it records public. Dropouts: Requires that schools seeking additional allowable growth for dropout programs include those programs in the comprehensive school improvement plan. Delays the date for requests for additional allowable growth to December 15. Open Enrollment: Makes the open enrollment deadline April 1 of the preceding school year for 1 - 12, and September 1 of the current school year kindergarten students. Expands good cause reasons for missing the deadline. Allows some students to go back to open enrollment from a school district that adopted a voluntary desegregation plan on December 10, 2001. Tax: Requires that only schools with less than 250 students meet get certain permissions from the DOE before spending local option sales taxes.

Other: Exempts information from home-schooled children from the open records law. Strikes penalties for early school starts. Repeals extended school programs. Makes other technical changes and corrections. Allows reprimands or warnings against school bus drivers, rather than just suspensions. Reports: Requires the DOE to report to the Legislature on the achievement gap. Requires schools to make reports on the use of allowable additional growth and how it has improved attendance and performance.

Senate Far Apart On Education Budget Targets

Democrats and republicans are approximately $90 million apart on their budget target for education. Generally the difference is due to two reasons:

  • Raising the cigarette tax and dedicating that money to paying rising health care costs. Democrats support an 80 cent per pack increase and putting the $120 million in estimated revenue in the "Healthy Iowans Tobacco Trust Fund."
  • Spending more on early childhood education, on teacher salaries, keeping tuition affordable and $30 million for an Early Childhood Education initiative, an additional $47 million for teacher quality, additional higher Ed funding and $29.3 million for class size reduction.

Other Bills Still Alive:

These bills are also still alive and eligible for further debate:

HF 675 - Early childhood reporting - Requires community empowerment areas to take steps to report directly to the public. Requires the Iowa Empowerment Board to develop an internet system for use by parents to access these programs. Directs the Community Empowerment office to physically colocate with the programs that it assists.

The following programs and associated staff under the authority of the department of education shall be relocated to the office site established by the community empowerment office:

  1. Center=based special education programs.
  2. The child portion of the child and adult care food program.
  3. The early childhood network operated by the department of education and area education agencies.
  4. The early childhood special education program.
  5. The early head start and head start programs.
  6. The even start family literacy program.
  7. Iowa shared visions preschool programs for children ages three to five years, implemented under the auspices of the child development coordinating council.
  8. Iowa shared visions parent support programs implemented under the auspices of the child development coordinating council.
  9. The school ready children grant program implemented under the community empowerment initiative.

HF 729IPERS - This bill makes changes to the Iowa public employees' retirement system.

The bill makes changes to the contributions made to the system by employers and employees. Currently, the employer rate is 5.75 percent and the employee rate is 3.7 percent of a member's covered wages. The bill provides that for the fiscal period beginning July 1, 2006, and ending June 30, 2014, the base employer rate may increase from the current rate by .3 percentage points per fiscal year and the base employee rate may increase from the current rate by .2 percentage points per fiscal year. The bill provides that the increase in contribution rates for any fiscal year will occur only if the percentage rate IPERS determines would be sufficient to amortize the unfunded actuarial liability of the system in 10 years is greater than the total employer and employee contribution rate for the prior fiscal year. The bill further provides that beginning July 1, 2014, the total employer and employee contribution rate shall be the same as for the prior fiscal year. Based on the bill, the maximum total contribution rate from both employers and employees could increase from the current 9.45 percent to 13.45 percent by July 1, 2013.

HSB 57 - School Elections - Changes school elections for school board and community college elections from every year to every odd-numbered year and the term of office from three to four years. The bill also limits all special elections so future levy votes or continuations, reorganizations, or SILO change-of-use elections would have to be held every other year at the regular school election or on the second Tuesday of September, January or April. The bill makes no changes to AEA Board elections.

HF 707 – Collective Bargaining – Makes numerous changes to chapter 20 as proposed by the Public Employees Relations Board (PERB).

Legislative Update

A Summary of Bills Introduced During the Week of 2-28-2005

House Files:

HF 605 - This bill requires that the educational program which school districts and accredited nonpublic schools provide include, in the human growth and development areas and the health curriculum or health education unit, age-appropriate and science-based information; permits school districts and accredited nonpublic schools to offer comprehensive sexual health education in kindergarten through grade 12; and requires the director of the department of education to prepare and make available to school districts and accredited nonpublic schools courses of instruction in comprehensive sexual health education, and to set forth standards and criteria for professional development which education institutions may use in preparing practitioners to teach comprehensive sexual health education. By Mascher, et.al.

HF 675 – See above. By Tymeson, Heaton, Upmeyer, and Chambers

HF 693 - This bill requires the board of directors of each school district and the authorities in charge of each accredited nonpublic school to adopt a policy requiring each student to take the college entrance examination published by the American college testing program, inc., prior to graduating from high school. School districts must pay the costs of the examinations for students who are eligible for free or reduced price meals, but the school districts shall be reimbursed by the department of education from moneys appropriated to the department to pay for those costs. By Ford

HF 707 – See above. State Government Committee

HF 732 - This bill provides that pupils who attend kindergarten programs which are offered on a half-day basis, and prekindergarten pupils enrolled in special education programs offered on a half-day basis, shall be counted for purposes of the actual enrollment count of a school district as one-half of one pupil. By Education Committee

House Study Bills:

HSB 271 - This bill provides for the inclusion of funding for returning dropout and dropout prevention programs within the school finance formula. By Tymeson

Senate Files:

SF 290 - This bill provides for an increase in the foundation property tax imposed under the state school foundation program pursuant to Code section 257.3, from the current level of $5.40 to $9.10 per $1,000 of assessed valuation on all taxable property in a school district.

The bill also provides for an increase in the regular program foundation base and the special education support services foundation base under the state school foundation program from the current foundation base level of 87.5 percent and 79 percent, respectively, to the level of 100 percent. By Warnstadt

SF 293 - This bill provides that the school budget review committee may authorize a school district to spend a reasonable and specified amount from its unexpended cash balance, reallocate revenues from board-approved property tax levies, and exceed the 20 percent limitation on the cumulative total of the percents of income surtax approved by the board of directors pursuant to Code section 298.14, upon submission by the school district of evidence that the expenditure, reallocation, or limitation exception will assist the district in addressing problems, needs, or unusual circumstances for which supplemental aid or modified allowable growth could otherwise be granted by the committee. By Tinsman

SF 297 - This bill provides for the establishment of an Iowa educator professional growth program to be funded by an increase in the allowable growth dollar amount for a specified budget year.

The bill provides that the department of management shall calculate the regular program allowable growth for the budget year beginning July 1, 2005, by multiplying the state percent of growth for the budget year by the regular program state cost per pupil for the base year and adding $10 to the resulting product. The bill provides that the additional $10 per pupil shall be subtracted from the school district's regular program cost per pupil for the budget year beginning July 1, 2005, in determining the amount of a school district's budget adjustment for purposes of the school budget guarantee pursuant to Code section 257.14. By Connolly

SF 306 - This bill provides for the establishment of a regional academy pilot program. The bill provides that the general assembly finds that the efficient and effective use of the state's educational resources may be achieved through consolidation of multiple school district resources to facilitate widespread access to advanced level coursework and instruction of the highest caliber which might otherwise not be available to high school students. The bill provides that the general assembly additionally finds that existing approaches to encourage the establishment of regional academies should be enhanced through the allocation of increased financial incentives. By Tinsman

Senate Study Bills:

SSB 1255 - This bill requires individuals to successfully complete an examination prior to receiving an initial license or new endorsement from the board of educational examiners. By McKinley

SSB 1256 - This bill provides that if the general assembly appropriates moneys for state aid for school districts experiencing teacher shortages, the school budget review committee shall develop prioritized aid approval criteria and shall distribute aid based on school district size to school districts that meet the criteria and submit an application that documents the efforts made by the district to fill the teaching position and includes a plan that describes how the school district will use the aid sought. Moneys appropriated that remain unexpended shall be carried forward for use for the same purposes in subsequent years. By McKinley

SSB 1257 - This bill amends the Iowa early intervention block grant program to add to the goals of the program, requires the department of education to identify diagnostic assessment tools to assist teachers in measuring decoding skills, requires school districts to establish committees to develop a policy and strategy to identify students who are not progressing at a reasonable rate toward reading proficiency and provides for intensive intervention in collaboration with parents, permits school districts to expend program funds for the implementation of instructional curriculum that uses systematic and explicit phonics, requires school districts to provide more data to the department regarding students who are identified as not being reading proficient and students who successfully completed an individualized reading intervention program, and extends the repeal of the block grant program to July 1, 2006. By McKinley

SSB 1258 - This bill provides for the establishment of a value-added assessment system to provide assistance to provide for multivariate longitudinal analysis of annual student test scores to determine the influence of a school district's educational program on student academic growth and to guide school district improvement efforts. The department of education is directed to select a value=added assessment system provider, based on criteria set forth in the bill, through a request for proposals process. By McKinley

SSB 1259 - This bill provides that if the general assembly appropriates moneys for state aid for school districts experiencing teacher shortages, the school budget review committee shall develop prioritized aid approval criteria and shall distribute aid based on school district size to school districts that meet the criteria and submit an application that documents the efforts made by the district to fill the teaching position and includes a plan that describes how the school district will use the aid sought. Moneys appropriated that remain unexpended shall be carried forward for use for the same purposes in subsequent years. By McKinley

SSB 1260 - This bill provides for an individual income tax credit equal to 75 percent of the voluntary contributions made to a school tuition organization that is exempt from federal income tax, exempts teachers employed by school districts or area education agencies from the authority to include terms authorizing dues checkoff in the scope of negotiations specified in Code chapter 20, governing public employee collective bargaining. By McKinley

SSB 1264 - This bill provides for several changes relating to the operation of the school finance formula. By Connolly

SSB 1265 - This bill provides for the creation of a school energy conservation program designed to facilitate the ability of school corporations to undertake energy conservation measures involving training programs, school facility improvements or alterations, or new construction or additions, by means of contracting with a service provider that guarantees energy or operational cost savings. By Connolly

SSB 1268 - This bill increases the tuition tax credit under the individual income tax from 25 percent of the first $1,000 paid for each dependent to attend elementary or secondary school to 25 percent of the first $2,500 paid for each such dependent. The bill also expands the dependents eligible to those who are at least three years of age and attend preschool. Also the cost of academic tutoring is included in the tuition tax credit. By McKinley

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