Feb. 12 Committee Meetings

The Education Appropriation Subcommittee and the House Education Committee met yesterday.  Highlights from the meetings include:

From the Ed. Approp. meeting, a motion to include intent language along with the appropriations in the final budget bill received heated discussion on the following issues:

  • minimum program standards, including maximum class size limits in grades K-3, the violation of which would result in punitive withholding of Class Size Reduction funding.  Syd Dickson explained why the Board has some concerns about mandating maximum class size.  She explained, a 4th grade class with 101 students is in a difficult spot if the law prohibited more than 25 students in each teacher’s class.  What’s the one extra kid going to do?
  • removal of the recommendation for the Board to consider criteria for funding transportation for certain charter schools that service special education and other special needs populations.  This particular recommendation came from a request by Pinnacle Canyon Charter School, located in Carbon County School District with about 30% of its student population special education students.  Several legislators expressed concern that this would open the door for charter schools to demand transportation and with the typical charter pulling students from all over, the costs could become astronomical.  The discussion was pushed along for sake of time and the recommendation was removed from the final budget bill.
  • intent for USBE to use any revenue generated from the licensing of SAGE questions to other states to develop additional assessment questions.  This point turned into a bigger philosophical debate about the wisdom of SAGE testing in the first place and ultimately, the motion to include the intent language prevailed.

The final budget bill, SB001Sub1 can be accessed here.

Later that day, in the House Education Committee…

  • The Committee spent an hour discussing Representative Arent’s bill to fund a counselor certification program to the tune of $440,000.  The program would provide training to counselors that would enable them to provide assistance to students in career and college readiness paths.  The bill received widespread support, with a couple legislators questioning why it’s okay to take from the general fund for this program but not for other programs.  Ultimately, the bill passed unanimously.  It may have been the longest “debate” with the fewest dissensions to date this legislative session.
  • Rep. Last’s two bills–Public Education Human Resources Management Act Revisions, Sub. 1, and Teacher Salary Supplement Program–both passed out of Committee without extensive discussion.
  • Rep. Peterson’s Early College High School bill was stymied with so many amendments that Rep. Last simply called for a motion to adjourn before action had been taken on the bill.

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