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Legislative Report (Vol. XXVI No. 4) February 2, 2007

February 2, 2007

Governor Submits Budget

Governor Chet Culver presented his budget recommendations to a joint convention of the General Session on Tuesday of this past week. It is important to remember that the Governors’ budget is built partially on an assumption of an increase in the cigarette tax to $1.00. Therefore any changes in that amount will necessitate changes in his proposed budget.

The Governor made several requests for education funding. He has proposed that the 4% allowable growth for this next school year remain as is and that growth for the 2008-09 school year also be set at 4%. Most importantly for AEAs the Governor has recommended that the current $8 million reduction be reduced to $6 million for 2007-08 and that the remainder of the $6 million be restored in FY 2009.

The Governor also proposed the following budget figures:

  • $1.7 million to supplement federal funding for Special Education services for children ages birth to three years.
  • $20.0 million for universal voluntary access to four-year-old preschool.
  • $70.0 million for the Student Achievement and Teacher Quality Program.

The legislature is expected to take up the allowable growth bill this coming week and all indications are that they will pass the 4% requested by the Governor.

Antibullying Bill Passes Senate

The Iowa Senate, on a vote of 36-14, passed and sent to the House the anti-bullying and anti-harassment bill. As written in “Legislative Report 3” the bill establishs a minimum standard in schools to shield elementary and secondary school children from conduct based on any actual or perceived characteristic that creates a hostile school environment.

Opponents said they agreed that bullying, harassment or intimidation of anyone by students, school employees or volunteers should not be tolerated, but they objected to an enumerated list that they feared may leave some students overlooked or excluded.

The enumerated traits or characteristics of students that would fall under the policy included sexual orientation, age, color, creed, national origin, race, religion, marital status, sex, gender identity, physical attributes, physical or mental ability or disability, ancestry, political belief, socioeconomic status or familial status.

The proposed legislation includes reporting requirements for violations, remedial actions and protections against retaliation or reprisal toward someone reporting a problem, but carries no specific sanctions.

Other

SF 62 passes the Senate this week on a 50-0 vote. The bill, commonly referred to as the Department of Education clean-up bill, relates mainly to noncontroversial items. There are several sections of the bill dealing with AEAs, but the main one is the section that makes clear that the AEAs are the first appeal for any transportation issues.

Senate Files

SF 63 - This bill provides for the election of the directors of local school districts and merged areas in September 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 division changes the terms of all of these directors from three to four years and provides for a transition period. By Johnson

SF 81 - This bill requires school boards to adopt a student advancement policy and establishes legislative findings to support the requirement. The bill also appropriates $5.05 million to the department of education for FY 2007-2008 from the general fund for a supplemental strategies and educational services grant program for distribution to school districts for tutoring and other opportunities for students to meet the expectations of the school district. By Wood, et.al.

SF 85 - This bill requires, effective with the school year commencing July 1, 2010, that a school district retain a student in grade three if, at the completion of grade three, the student is more than one year below grade level in reading assessments specified by the bill. However, the child shall not be retained if it is determined not to be in the child's best interest. A student shall not be denied promotion under the provisions of the bill more than once. By McKinley

SF 86 - Current law provides that elections involving a political subdivision located in more than one county shall be conducted by the county commissioner of elections of the county having the greatest taxable base within the political subdivision. This bill provides that, for the regular school election or an election called by a school district, the commissioner of the county having the greatest number of registered voters within the school district as of January 1 of the year of the election shall conduct the election. McKinley

SF 87 - This bill directs the state board of education to adopt rules and, by January 1, 2008, implement a procedure for the approval of alternative practitioner preparation pilot programs that prepare a person, who has not completed a traditional practitioner preparation program, to teach students in one or more grade levels from prekindergarten through grade 12. By McKinley

SF 93 - This bill increases the physical education unit requirement from one-eighth unit per semester to one-quarter, or from 50 minutes per week to 100 minutes per week, for grades nine through 12. The bill also provides that "physical education activities", which all physically able students who do not qualify for an exemption must participate in, includes a minimum of 30 minutes per day, three school days per week, of activities designed to increase cardiovascular fitness. By McCoy

Senate Study Bills

SSB 1120 - This bill authorizes the negotiating of fair share agreements in collective bargaining agreements. By Dearden

SSB 1122 - This bill expands the scope of services under an existing appropriation for FY 2006-2007 made in 2006 Iowa Acts, chapter 1157, for the community empowerment initiative involving preschool services. The bill expands the services to be provided through the appropriation beyond preschool services to also include other supportive services. The bill also expands the four-year-old and five-year-old age range addressed in the appropriation to also include three-year-old children. Proposed Dep’t of mgmt’ Bill

SSB 1151 - This bill incorporates the funding from the phase II education excellence program of Code chapter 294A into the school foundation formula and strikes phase I funding. Proposed DE Bill

House Files

HF 153 - This bill requires the director of the department of education to develop a program to annually identify and honor elementary and secondary schools that succeed in reducing achievement gaps and secondary schools that increase the number and diversity of students enrolled in advanced science, mathematics, and reading programs; to establish criteria for the recognition of exemplary schools and programs and a process to publicly honor the recipients chosen; and to create a noteworthy symbol or certificate of honor suitable for public display in the community by the recipient schools. By Ford

HF 154 - This bill requires the department of education to conduct a study relating to the development of a statewide student information system. By Winckler

HF 156 - This bill concerns permissible uses of physical plant and equipment levy revenue. The bill provides that in addition to utilizing revenue for the purchase of transportation equipment for transporting students, which is currently authorized in Code section 298.3, revenue may also be expended for contracting for transportation services. By Heddens, Gaskill, Schueller

HF 157 - This bill appropriates, beginning July 1, 2007, $17.528 million annually to the school budget review committee for transportation assistance aid to school districts, in an amount up to $1 for each dollar by which the district's average transportation costs exceed the state average transportation costs per pupil. By Schueller, et. al

HF 158 - This bill requires the department of public health to implement a requirement that children receive a blood lead test prior to the age of six and before enrolling in any elementary school in Iowa. The bill requires a child's parent or legal guardian to assure that the child is tested. By Ford

HF 159 - This bill directs the department of education to convene a task force to study the establishment of statewide content and performance standards. By Ford

HF 160 - The bill directs the state board of regents to organize and conduct a comprehensive, statewide study of Iowa's kindergarten through grade 12 educational system to determine the best strategies for improving overall student achievement and reducing achievement gaps between racial and socioeconomic groups of children, but only if the legislative council or general assembly provides funding for the study. The bill directs the department of education, area education agencies, community colleges, and school districts to assist the state board in gathering and processing the necessary data and in gaining access to and input from stakeholders for the study. By Ford

HF 161 - This bill directs the state board of education, as part of its mandate to adopt rules incorporating accountability for student achievement into the standards and accreditation process, to include in those rules criteria and a procedure for recognizing performance excellence that results from the implementation of outstanding comprehensive school improvement plans. By Ford

HF 195 - This bill requires the board of directors of each school district to adopt a parent and guardian involvement policy. By Winckler, et.al.

HF 198 - This bill directs the state board of education to adopt rules defining mathematics and reading proficiency as performance at grade level as determined by multiple assessments. By Tymeson

House Study Bills

HSB 113 – Same as SSB 1118 – Teacher Quality

HSB 114 - This bill makes changes related to incentives for school district reorganization and dissolution and shared operational functions between school districts and political subdivisions.

HSB 115 – Preschool initiative

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