Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Into the Grind of the Session: Subcommittee Work Begins

The 7:30 a.m. meeting of the House Committee on Education's Education Reform Subcommittee focused on expedited research, calendar flexibility for low performing schools, and accreditation.


Four expedited retake bills were taken up:  Habeeb's HB1490, Filler-Corn's HB1668, and Farrell's HB1706 and HB 1302.  Habeeb's HB 1490 was reported, while HB 1668 and HB 1706 were tabled.  The meat of HB 1490 is "That the Board of Education shall promulgate regulations to provide the same criteria for eligibility for an expedited retake of any Standard of Learning test, with the exception of writing Standards of Learning tests, to each student regardless of grade level or course."


Writing was excluded because it takes longer to take and it is more expensive.  The writing test alone costs $134,000.  Excluding writing reduces the fiscal impact of the bill to $200,000, a funding level thought to be more acceptable to the House Appropriations Committee.


Habeeb's HB 1302 was reported as a back-up should HB 1490 not gain final passage.  HB 1302 allows expedited retakes at local expense.  The  subcommittee hopes the state will provide the needed $200,000.


Delegate Stolle's HB 1585, which grants calendar flexibility to unaccredited schools was reported.  This bill is an absolute no-brainer.


Finally the subcommittee reported Subcommittee Chairman Greason's HB 1615 and HB 1674.  HB 1615 permits SOL tests to assess multiple subject areas on the same test.  HB 1674 permits schools which have historically met accreditation standards to move from an annual accreditation schedule to a multi-year schedule.


The Senate Finance Committee meeting included an overview of theGovernor's proposed budget amendments.  You may wish to review the Public Education section, on slides 18-23.  Secretary of Finance Richard D. Brown presented a December Revenue Report.  The figures give some cause for optimism, but January is a significant reporting month, and those numbers will need to come in before any celebration is in order.