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Legislative Report (Vol. XXV No. 7) February 24, 2006 Senate GOP Offers Education Proposals

February 24, 2006

Salary increases for Iowa teachers would be tied at least partly to academic gains by their students under a package of school improvement proposals this week by Senate Republicans.

Senate GOP leaders said they are willing to back Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack's recommendation to increase state spending on teacher salaries by $30 million annually over the next five years if the state also installs a pay-for-performance system during that period.

Under the proposal A commission would be created to design the new compensation program, which would likely include the measurement of student improvement over a year's time as a yardstick of how well the teacher is performing.

Aside from the salary proposal they also proposed the following:

  • Encouraging school districts to share administrative services with other schools. The Senate Education Committee approved SF 2221 last week to do so. Republican senators said they want to see the measure included in any education reform package agreed to by lawmakers and the governor.
  • Measuring school year by hours instead of days. SSB 3065, would change the current 180-day requirement for Iowa’s school year to an equivalent number of hours.,and under the measure, partial days would not count as full days. “Early dismissals would not cut into teaching time, resulting in more classroom instruction for students,” said McKinley.
  • Identifying struggling readers in third grade and giving intensive reading intervention to correct problems to make sure that children can read at grade level before being promoted to fourth grade.
  • Using salary incentives to attract educators to subject area s where teachers are in short supply, such as math and science. The bill, SSB 3060, would encourage qualified teachers to stay in the classroom and teach in needed subject areas.

Education Budget

The House Appropriation Committee approved HF 2527, the education appropriations bill on Wednesday. The bill spends $948 million in FY 2007, an increase of $17.2 million from FY 2006. The Governor’s education budget provides approximately $70 million more in new funding than is being proposed by the House majority party. Other differences include:

  • The Governor recommended a $30 million increase in funding for the Teacher Quality initiative, with a commitment to provide a $30 million increase each year for the next five years. The House budget provides only a $2.5 million increase, with only a one year commitment.
  • One of the Governor’s priorities was to expand voluntary access to preschool programs. The Governor is recommending $15 million in new funding. He also wants to improve the quality of existing preschool programs by providing licensed teachers for those programs. The House budget provides no new funding for preschool programs.

As the question often arises it bears repeating that any additional funds for AEAs will not be part of this bill, but rather the standings appropriations bill which is many times the last bill considered for the session. Also the issue of growth for 07-08 has still not been resolved and is treated as a separate bill.

State Standards Hearing

The House Education Committee held a public hearing Tuesday on the issue of state standards for Iowa’s K-12 school system. Iowa is the only state nationally to not have state standards, as each school district establishes educational standards for their schools under Iowa’s support of local control.

This public hearing is the initial step in the discussion as to whether the state should move toward establishing state standards. State-level content standards are typically intended to provide the basis for state and local decisions on curriculum, texts, instructional materials, student assessments, teacher preparation, and professional development.

The committee heard a variety of opinions for and against state standards. Judy Jeffrey, Director of the Department of Education, questioned whether content standards needed to be set by the state. “In Iowa, content standards are required by law to be established by local school boards. But in order to meet the NCLB requirements, the Iowa Department of Education worked with the Iowa Testing Program to establish core content standards that districts must incorporate into their local standards. All local districts have devoted literally thousands of hours to the establishment of content standards to assure compliance with NCLB.” She went on to suggest, “Changing who determines content standards at this time could completely dismantle the thousands of hours districts have already devoted to this task, and also disrupt our accountability system approved by the federal government. Also, being able to add and change content standards at the local level provides local boards the ability to both demand and create higher standards without a bureaucratic process that tends to slow the pace of change.”

It is uncertain what direction this debate will take, if any, during this session.

DE Omnibus Bill Out of Committee

The department of education omnibus bill, SF 2272, was passed by the Senate Education Committee. One section establishes a time limit of 10 days in which an LEA may appeal the decision of an AEA board when determining if a contiguous district may move to another AEA or into the new AEA when an AEA reorganization takes place. Current law does not provide for any time limit.

First Funnel

The first funnel date of this session will be on Friday, March 3. Funnel dates are established by legislative rule to reduce the number of bills still eligible for the session. The first funnel requires that bills must be out of the committee of origin to remain eligible, i.e., house bills related to education must have passed the house education committee and senate education bills must have passed the senate education committee.

However, appropriations bills and ways and means bills are exempt from the funnel and any bill which does not meet the funnel can be brought back as an amendment to another bill. Generally speaking, any bill which dies due to the funnel usually remains dead for the session.

Senate Files

SF 2272 - This bill amends numerous Code sections related to the duties and operations of the state board of education, the department of education, and local school boards, including provisions relating to the sharing of public school instructors and services with students attending nonpublic schools, rules for participation of students in extracurricular activities, the submission of dropout and dropout prevention plans to the department and the submission of requests for modified allowable growth to the school budget review committee by school boards; the competency requirements persons must meet to receive a high school equivalency diploma, and the fees set for issuance of the diploma; quality instructional centers; newly reorganized area education agencies; school district payments and settlements; the purposes for which moneys received from the sale of school sites may be used; evening and part=time schools; fencing near school grounds; open enrollment requirements; school bus drivers; and extended school programs. By Education Committee

Senate Study Bills

SSB 3191 - This bill requires the state board of education to adopt rules which provide that a student is academically eligible to participate in any extracurricular interscholastic athletic contest or competition if the student earned 20 semester credits toward graduation in the preceding semester and is making passing grades in four subjects for the current semester. However, the board of directors of a school district may set higher academic eligibility standards than those adopted by the state board. By McKinley

SSB 3192 - This bill requires each area education agency, in consultation with the school districts located within agency boundaries, to determine annually a traditional and a block school bell schedule for the following school year for the attendance centers located within the area education agency's boundaries, and requires all school districts and charter schools to use one or both of the bell schedules established by the area education agency.

The department of education is directed to post the area education agency-determined bell schedules on its internet website.

The bill also eliminates the authority of the director of the department of education to grant a request made by a board of directors of a school district to commence classes prior to the earliest starting date allowed, which is no sooner than a day during the calendar week in which the first day of September falls or, if the first day of September falls on a Sunday, a day during the prior week. By McKinley

SSB 3211 - This bill addresses issues relating to driver education, graduated driver licensing, and passenger restraint. The bill provides several curriculum requirements for inclusion in an approved driver education course. The amount of classroom instruction devoted to substance abuse is increased from four hours to 12 hours, including instruction on the effects of alcohol consumption on driving skills. Classroom instruction must also cover cell phone use and other driver distractions. Laboratory instruction shall include behind-the-wheel instruction in defensive driving and instruction in driving at night, in adverse weather conditions, and on gravel roads. By McCoy and Putney

SSB 3217 - This bill authorizes the use of voting centers for regular school elections in counties with a population in excess of 300,000. The bill provides that a registered voter of the county who is eligible to vote at the regular school election may vote at any voting center in the county. By Horn

House Files

HF 2462 – Successor to HF 2005. Provides that a petition asking that the question of providing free textbooks to a school district's pupils be submitted to the voters at the next regular election must be signed by the greater of 100 eligible electors residing in the school district or a number of eligible electors equal to 10 percent of the number of voters in the last preceding regular school election. The Code currently requires the signatures of at least 10 percent of the registered voters in the school district on such a petition. By Committee on Education

HF 2478 - This bill directs the state board of education to adopt rules, in consultation with the department of human services, relating to participation of area education agencies and local education agencies in the medical assistance program. The rules are to include but are not limited to the areas of reimbursement and auditing standards and procedures. By Government Oversight Committee

HF 2496 - This bill provides a mechanism for increasing the regular program foundation base per pupil from the current level of 87.5 percent to 100 percent, if specified conditions are met.

The bill provides that for the budget year commencing July 1, 2007, and succeeding budget years, if the state percent of growth established pursuant to Code section 257.8 for a budget year represents an increase of at least 1 percent over the state percent of growth established for the previous budget year, the regular program foundation base per pupil shall be increased by an amount corresponding to .1 percent for each 1 percent increase in the state percent of growth established for the budget year. If the state percent of growth does not increase, or decreases, the bill provides that the regular program foundation base per pupil shall remain at the level determined for the previous budget year. The bill provides that the increases shall continue until the regular program foundation base per pupil reaches 100 percent of the regular program state cost per pupil, at which point the regular program foundation base shall remain at 100 percent. By Hogg, Foege and Mascher

House Study Bills

HSB 707 - This bill appropriates moneys for fiscal year 2006-2007 from the general fund of the state to the college student aid commission, the department for the blind, the department of cultural affairs, the department of education, and the state board of regents and its institutions. By Educ. Appropriation Committee

HSB 725 - This bill replaces the current 180-day school calendar, which converts to a required 990 hours of instructional school time at 5.5 hours per day, with a requirement that the school calendar include 990 hours of instructional time for grades 1-6 and 1,080 hours of instructional time for grades 7-12. By Tymeson

HSB 726 - This bill extends existing provisions relating to a reduced foundation property tax levy, and to the receipt of supplementary weighting, as reorganization incentives to school districts.

The bill provides for an extension of current provisions which reduce the level of the foundation property tax levy in school districts which have undergone a reorganization or dissolution. Currently, the reduction takes place if a school district reorganizes or dissolves taking effect on or after July 1, 2002, and on or before July 1, 2006. The bill changes these dates to 2006 and 2009, respectively. By Tymeson

HSB 731 - This bill directs the board of directors of a school district to publicize its support for the policies it adopts, its support of the school district staff in enforcing board policies, and the staff's accountability and responsibility for implementing the board's policies. By Tymeson

HSB 732 - This bill establishes a mathematics and science teacher practical experience incentive program to provide a mathematics or science teacher with an opportunity to gain practical work or research experience through employment with a business, industry, university, or state agency. By Hoffman

HSB 734 - This bill provides for the reimbursement from moneys appropriated to the department of education for that purpose, of a parent, legal guardian, student, or school district, for up to one-half of the advanced placement examination fee paid by or on behalf of a student taking the examination. By Tymeson

HSB 735 - This bill amends a number of provisions related to the membership, authority, and duties of the board of educational examiners. By Tymeson

HSB 739 - This bill raises the minimum beginning and career teacher salaries under the student achievement and teacher quality program and provides a standing appropriation of $3 million from the general fund of the state to the department of education for purposes of providing a $1,000 mathematics and science teacher salary supplement for teachers employed by school districts who are assigned by the school district to teach two or more mathematics and science courses in grade 9,10, 11, or 12.

The bill requires a school district to increase its minimum salary for a first=year beginning teacher by at least $2,500 per year above the minimum salary paid to a first=year beginning teacher in the previous year unless the minimum salary for a first=year beginning teacher exceeds $29,000. This is $1,000 more than the current Code minimum and exception.

The bill also requires a school district to provide a $3,000 difference between the average beginning teacher salary and the minimum career teacher salary, unless the school district has a minimum career teacher salary that exceeds $31,000. This is $1,000 more than the current Code minimum and exception.

To be eligible for a mathematics and science teacher salary supplement, a teacher must hold an endorsement issued by the board of educational examiners authorizing the teacher to provide instruction in grades 9=12 in mathematics, biological science, chemistry, earth science, general science, physical science, or physics. To receive moneys for mathematics and science teachers, a school district must, by October 1 annually, notify the department of the number of individuals who meet the qualifications established by the bill and submit any documentation requested by the department. By Tymeson

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