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State Actions Update – June 2019


• ExcelinEd News

Colorado

  • High school students will have greater concurrent and dual enrollment opportunities now that Gov. Jared Polis has signed SB19-176into law. This legislation, sponsored by Sen. Paul Lundeen and Sen. Jeff Bridges, passed unanimously out of both legislative chambers in the final days of the 2019 regular session.

Connecticut

  • Both chambers of the Connecticut General Assembly voted to pass legislation that will allow K-12 students across the state greater access to computer science education. SB 957, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Witkos, heads to Gov. Ned Lamont for his signature.

Florida

  • Ron DeSantis signed a workforce education bill (HB 7071) sponsored by Rep. Amber Mariano. This comprehensive plan to align career education with 21st-century jobs and boost access to college degrees is a strategic and powerful step to help students, businesses and communities thrive long into the future.

Nevada

  • AB 289, sponsored by the late Assemblyman Tyrone Thompson and then by Assemblywoman Sarah Peters, passed out of the Senate and was signed into law by Gov. Steve Sisolak. The legislation revises the Read By Grade 3 program and will continue to ensure struggling readers – identified by the State Board of Education – will receive the extra services, supports, interventions and time needed for promotion. Additionally, SB 555 sponsored by the Senate Committee on Finance, unanimously passed both legislative chambers and was signed by Gov. Sisolak. This K-12 funding legislation makes an historic $63 million investment in the Read By Grade 3 program.
  • Legislation to overhaul Nevada’s public-school funding formula passed out of the Assembly on the final day of the regular session and was later signed by Gov. Sisolak. A notable component of the legislation, SB 543 sponsored by the Senate Committee on Finance, enacts a weighted student funding formula that allows dollars to follow students who qualify for specific needs to receive extra per-pupil funding.
  • Legislation to fully fund the Opportunity Scholarship Program passed both chambers and was signed into law by Gov. Sisolak. SB 551, by Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, allocates $9.5 million to the program, ensuring all current students can remain in the program, however, the new law caps the program preventing new students from participating.

North Carolina

  • The House and Senate on June 26 approved – and Gov. Roy Cooper on June 28 vetoed – a two-year budget that includes:
    • A significant overhaul of North Carolina’s Read to Achieve early literacy framework (language taken from SB 438)
    • An extension of the current 15-point A-F school grading scale
    • An additional $1.25 million for the second year of the state’s computer science course offerings buildout, bringing the new total to $1.8 million in 2020-21
    • An additional $200,000 a year for the state’s AP Partnership, bringing the new total to $2.4 million a year
    • The consolidation of the special needs ESA and special needs voucher programs into a single $16 million ESA program, along with changes in student eligibility and use of funds
    • $500,000 to hire a nonprofit organization to market the state’s private choice programs
    • New eligibility for four-year-olds and students from military families in the low-income voucher program
    • New charter school enrollment preferences for siblings and children of employees
    • The consolidation of bonus programs for teachers whose students pass AP, IB or Cambridge AICE exams; earn high-value industry credentials; or perform well on state math or reading assessments
    • An extension of the student-centered funding reform task force from October 2019 to March 2020

Because the House likely lacks the votes to override Cooper’s veto, the budget negotiation process is expected to continue for weeks or months.

  • SB 392 by Senate Education Co-Chair Deanna Ballard would give public charter schools the option to bypass local governments and instead seek state approval of facility bonds. The bill was amended and advanced by the House Education Committee.
  • SB 621 by Senate Education Co-Chair Jerry Tillman, which would eliminate certain standardized tests, was amended and advanced by the House Education Committee.
  • HB 362 by House Education Co-Chair Craig Horn, which like the budget, extends the 15-point scale for A-F grades, was amended and advanced by the Senate Education Committee.

Ohio

  • The FY 2020-2021 operating budget being debated in Ohio contains funding in each of the next two years to incentivize high-quality charter school networks to establish schools in the state, as well as incentivize students to earn industry-recognized credentials prior to graduation. The legislature did not meet the budget deadline over the last weekend in June and instead enacted an interim budget. Budget talks on the full biennial budget are expected to resume in a few weeks.

Pennsylvania

  • The Pennsylvania House introduced HB 265, which would provide students and families more information on in-demand careers and make it easier to transfer credits and certificates from high school to postsecondary. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Craig Staats, awaits final consideration in the Senate.
  • Another bill would create a CTE investment incentive program, including tax credits for businesses that contribute to CTE programs and enrollment expansion programs. HB 522, by Rep. Mike Tobash, moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
  • A package of bills (HB 355, HB 356, HB 357 and HB 358) that would strengthen ethical requirements for charter schools, grant charters a right of first refusal for facilities, improve the chartering process by creating a standard application and allow charter schools to offer dual enrollment programs passed the full House and was referred to the Senate Education Committee.
  • The Pennsylvania General Assembly passed HB 800, which would have expanded the successful Education Improvement Tax Credit and allowed thousands more Pennsylvania students to access educational opportunities. However, Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed the expansion.

Texas

  • Governor Abbot signed HB 3, a bill that codifies significant changes to public school funding, including outcome-based bonuses for college, career or military readiness.
  • Governor Abbott also signed SB 2293, sponsored by Sen. Pat Fallon, which provides equal protection to charter schools by extending the same exemption from collective bargaining currently available to traditional schools.

West Virginia

  • During special session, the West Virginia Legislature passed – and Gov. Jim Justice signed – an omnibus bill that creates the first charter school law in the Mountain State and improves public school open enrollment opportunities for students. HB 206, sponsored by Majority Whip Paul Espinosa, also creates a separate appropriation for the Department of Education to disburse to county boards and public charter schools to assist with serving exceptional children. Further, it allows county school boards to designate Innovation in Education schools that use mastery-based learning programs.

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