Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sine Die

Unfortunately the Governor's state takeover of underperforming schools program is funded in the budget.  Fortunately, the funding level is $150,000 rather than the $600,000 in the introduced budget.  The scope of the takeover is significantly narrowed by the language in the conference report.

New Language (Budget):

2. Any school that has been denied accreditation for the previous two school years shall be transferred to the Opportunity Educational Institution.

Old Language (SB 1324):

B. Supervision of any school that has been denied accreditation shall be transferred to the Opportunity Educational Institution.

Supervision of any school that has been accredited with warning for three consecutive years may be transferred to the Opportunity Educational Institution following a majority vote by the Board to transfer such school to the Institution.

I am told that only four schools will be taken over under the provisions of the budget language.  Provisions of the appropriations act trump code provisions, so the budget language prevails.

The following language in SB 1324 is particularly troublesome, and one of the reasons we fought so hard in our attempt to defeat both SB 1324 and HB 2096:

§ 22.1-27.4. Staffing.

A. The Institution may employ such staff members as it deems necessary. At the time that the supervision of a school is transferred to the Institution, any teacher who is employed in the school by the local school division of residence may be given consideration for employment in the same or a comparable position by the Institution or its designee. The Institution or its designee shall have ultimate authority to make hiring decisions.

B. Any person employed in a school under the supervision of the Institution may, at the time of transfer, choose to remain in the employ of the local school division of residence, and the school division shall retain, reassign or dismiss such person consistent with the requirements of Article 2 (§ 22.1-293 et seq.) of Chapter 15.

Many consider the state takeover to be unconstitutional, and the courts may well overrule what we were unable to defeat.

Other budget provisions of interest are as follows:

·         $31 million more for public education

·         A JLARC Study of School Restructuring Options for Underperforming Schools

·         A $708,000 restoration of funds for the Teacher Scholarship Load Program, which increases the grants from $3,720 to $10,000.

·         Partial restoration of the Cost of Competing Adjustment for support personnel in NOVA.  The is still a 70% cut from the 2012 funding level

·         $11.6 million to extend the 2% salary increase to support personnel - all raises are for 11months starting on 8/1/13.  A local match must be certified by 1/1/14. 

·         Funding for the feasibility study for statewide health insurance 

The most amusing budget provision reflects a squabble between the executive and judicial branches over parking places.  Check out the language for a laugh.

Click here to see the House Appropriation Committee's overview of the budget highlights.

Click here to see the Senate Finance Committee’s overview of the budget highlights.

The conference committee report on HB 1999/SB 1207, the grade-the-school (A-F), passed the Senate on 22-17 identical votes.  The House approved it 65-31 and 66-33 respectively.

Sine Die!  It’s over until the veto session.


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