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Legislative Report (Vol. XXV No. 2) January 20th, 2006 House Education Committee Passes 4% Growth

January 20, 2006

The House Education Committee gave unanimous approval to House File 2095, which sets allowable growth for K-12 school districts at 4% for the 2007-2008 school year. This growth rate is consistent with the recommendation of Governor Vilsack’s in his budget submittal. Committee Democrats offered an amendment to go to 6% but it was defeated on a voice vote.

Allowable growth for the 2006-2007 school year has already been set a 4.0%, which is estimated to provide an $84.7 million increase in state aid. This means the school finance formula will generate $2.048 billion in state aid for K-12 schools for FY 2007. This increases the state cost per pupil from $4,931 to $5,128, an increase of $197 per pupil.

The bill sets allowable growth for the 2007-2008 school year at 4.0%, which is estimated to increase state aid $103 million for the 2007-2008 school year. At a 4% growth rate, the state cost per pupil will increase from $5,128 to $5,333, an increase of $205 per pupil.

Senate Democrats have stated their position to support a 6% increase.

House Republicans Announce Education Proposals

On Tuesday House Republicans unveiled their education reform plan that is intended to focus on student performance, parental involvement and better accountability to the taxpayer. It provides for:

Focus on Student Performance

  • Increase actual time students are in the classroom. Modernize the current requirement for 180 school days each year to avoid short school days that cheat students.
  • Allow a student who completes high school one year ahead of schedule to take their per pupil state aid to an Iowa community college, a private college or a state university.
  • Involve parents, teachers and students in more relevant high school course and career planning. Require students to have a career exploration plan as of 8th grade and give parents a yearly progress report.

Parental Knowledge & Involvement

  • Have school districts account to parents for the use of the $30 million in K-3 class size funding.
  • Have parents sign K-3 report cards whenever their child is not performing at grade level.
    Put proficiency and grade equivalence side-by-side on test reports and require state and local reporting of the number of students who graduate who are not proficient in reading and math.
  • Require local districts and the state to separately report the number of GEDs, the number of juniors and senior December graduates.
  • Require local school districts to have parent involvement policies that mirror the National PTA standards.

Better Accountability to the Taxpayers: the Taxpayers Right to Know

  • Require school districts to list on their web site and do an annual report card to the community: Listing all property tax levies and state maximum allowed and district levy state dollars per student received, federal dollars per target student population received and other federal assistance, percentage and dollar increase under teacher and administrator salary and benefits settlements.
  • Enrollment in the district over the past five years
  • Number of full time and part time teachers in the district over the past five years, including number of retirements and new hires.
  • Require school boards, when voting on board-approved levy or providing information to the public on voter approved levies, to list all outstanding school district property tax levies in addition to the one at issue.

Institute for Tomorrows Workforce Submits Recommendations

The Institute for Tomorrows Workforce, which was established by the legislature during the past session, presented their recommendations for education this past week. The three main recommendations were as follows:

  • The ITW should work with stakeholders and external consultants (such as the Partnership for the 21st Century Skills) to establish both the content-area knowledge and skills and the assessments necessary to measure the content and skills to prepare Iowa learners for the demands of the 21st century.
  • Fund the 2001 Student Achievement/Teacher Quality Program to complete the state’s commitment to the bold professional teacher performance/compensation model.
  • The legislature should establish an independent Commission of education stakeholders with the authority to establish a new performance-based, learner-centered educational delivery system.
  • The Commission will submit its findings and recommendations to the governor, the Iowa Legislature, and the Department of Education, not later than January 15, 2007. The plan submitted will address the changes required including the alignment of local school districts, AEAs, higher education and the Iowa Department of Education, with specific quantitative and qualitative indicators and recommendations on management, governance, faculty salaries, services, boundaries, funding, optimum size and administrative efficiencies. The legislature should confer upon the Commission the authority to prepare a new delivery system, which will be implemented unless the legislature and the Governor reject it.

Brent Siegrist, AEA Director of Services, was a member of the task force and did an excellent job of representing the interest of the AEAs while serving in that capacity. If you wish further information or more in-depth analysis of the committee report feel free to contact him.

Senate Files

SF 2035 - This bill provides for the election of the directors of local school districts and merged areas on the same day as the regular city election in November in odd-numbered years. Area education agencies are required by law to hold their director district conventions within two weeks of the regular school election. Area education agency board directors are elected at those conventions. In order to accomplish these purposes, the bill changes the terms of all of these directors from three to four years and provides for a transition period.

The bill takes effect upon enactment for purposes of planning for and holding the area education agency director district conventions in November 2007, and the first biennial regular school election in November 2007. By Johnson

SF 2042 - This bill directs the department of education and the boards of directors of the area education agencies to facilitate a series of meetings, beginning not later than October 1, 2006, with representatives from the department, area education agency personnel and school district leaders, parents, and students to discuss the implementation of graduation competency examinations. At the conclusion of the meetings, each AEA must collect the recommendations made and submit them to the department and the general assembly.

The department shall review the AEA's recommendations and submit its findings and recommendations in a report to the general assembly by January 15, 2007. The department's report must identify any changes in the Code that implementation of the department's recommendations would necessitate and include a time line for implementation of the recommendations. By Tinsman

Senate Study Bills

SSB 3021 - This bill requires that a person from another state who applies to the board of educational examiners for licensure as a teacher or for an endorsement to teach in a specific subject area must take a praxis II principles of learning and teaching test and a praxis II teaching foundations test, as well as a subject assessment for each endorsement the applicant seeks, unless the applicant provides the board with evidence that the applicant has taken the appropriate praxis II tests and the applicant's scores on the tests meet or exceed the qualifying scores approved by the board. By Committee on Education

House Files

HF 2074 - This bill increases the number of charter school applications the state board of education may approve from 10 to 20. The bill also directs the state board to approve the applications, to the extent reasonably possible, in a manner that provides for the establishment of charter schools geographically throughout the state. By Wilderdyke

HF 2076 - This bill increases the appropriation from the general fund to the department of education for purposes of the student achievement and teacher quality program for FY 2006-2007 by approximately $40.4 million over the nearly $69.6 million appropriated for FY 2005-2006. The statutory allocations for national board certification awards and the additional teacher contract day remain at the same level; the amount for mentoring and induction for beginning teachers is increased by $200,000; and the amount allocated for the career development program, the review panel, the evaluator training program, and the ambassador to education is increased by $115,000. The moneys remaining, under the current statutory language, are allocated to school districts and area education agencies for salaries and career development. By Wendt

HF 2095 - This bill establishes a state percent of growth of 4 percent for purposes of the state school foundation program for the school budget year beginning July 1, 2007. The bill is applicable for state aid computation under the school foundation program for the school budget year beginning July 1, 2007. By Education Committee

HF 2099 - This bill establishes the virtual public schools Act, which permits a school district board, charter school board, or the department of education to sponsor a public virtual school. The bill includes legislative findings and declarations, which include the statement that virtual schools should be recognized as public schools and provided equitable treatment and resources as any other public school in the state. Any student who is a resident of the state as defined in Code section 282.6 may enroll in a virtual school. The bill defines a "virtual school" as a public school that uses technology in order to deliver a significant portion of instruction to its students using the internet in a virtual or remote setting. By Kurtenbach

House Study Bills

HSB 521 - This bill eliminates a requirement that the state board of education adopt rules to prohibit the use of telecommunications by school districts as the exclusive means to provide any course that is required by the minimum educational standards for accreditation. By Tymeson

HSB 522 - This bill concerns facilitating public access to school district financial information. The bill provides that prior to certifying any levy by board approval, or submitting a levy for voter approval, the board of directors of a school district shall provide a complete listing of all outstanding levies by rate, amount, duration, and the applicable levy limitations. By Tymeson

HSB 523 - This bill requires the board of directors of each school district to adopt a parent and guardian involvement policy that, at a minimum, does all of the following: ensures that communication between home and school is regular, two-way, and meaningful; promotes and supports parenting skills; recognizes and supports the integral role parents and guardians play in assisting student learning; welcomes parents and guardians in school and seeks their support and assistance; makes parents and guardians full partners in the decisions that affect children and families; and utilizes community collaborations productively and community resources prolifically to strengthen schools, families, and student learning. The school district must publish the policy in the student handbook and on websites maintained by the school district or its attendance centers. By Tymeson

HSB 524 - This bill requires school districts and accredited nonpublic schools to report annually to the department of education and their local communities data related to the school district's graduation, dropout, and equivalency rates, and the number of students who are not proficient in reading, mathematics, and science upon graduation. The bill requires that the department of education include the data in its annual condition of education report. By Tymeson

HSB 525 - This bill requires the core curriculum plan developed for a student by a school district in cooperation with the student to be signed by the student's parent or guardian if the student is under 18 years of age. The plan must include career options and shall identify the coursework needed to transition to a career or postsecondary institution. The plan must also be included in records the school district maintains regarding the student. By Tymeson

HSB 536 - This bill makes changes to the Iowa public employees' retirement system (IPERS). Code section 97B.1A, subsection 24, concerning the definition of three-year average covered wage, is amended to eliminate the provision that would have changed this calculation from the highest three years of service to the highest 12 consecutive quarters of service effective July 1, 2008. Proposed IPERS bill

HSB 537 - This bill allows a child who is five years of age on or after September 15 to be admitted to kindergarten if the child has demonstrated the possession of sufficient ability to benefit from kindergarten work on the basis of evaluations recommended or approved by the department of education and if the department approves the admission prior to August 1. Currently, no child shall be admitted to kindergarten unless the child reaches the age of five on or before September 15. By Tymeson

HSB 538 - This bill provides that propositions relating to issuance of bonds by a school district, including the question of exceeding the debt limit or the levy rate limit for issuance and payment of certain bonds, must be placed on the ballot of the regular school election, the general election, or the regular city election if the propositions require a 60 percent majority for adoption. By Tymeson

HSB 539 - This bill requires school districts to report to the parent or guardian of a student who is administered a nationally recognized standardized achievement evaluation the proficiency level and the grade equivalency level in each of the subject areas for which the student was evaluated. The school district must also describe how the levels were determined. By Tymeson

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