Feb. 24 Agenda

Senate Education Committee, 8:00, 210 Senate Bldg.

1. SB0204 Parental Rights in Public Education Amendments (A. Osmond)
2. SB0219S01 World Language Proficiency Recognition (H. Stephenson)
3. SB0222 Digital Teaching and Learning Program (H. Stephenson)
4. HB0119 Charter School Finance Amendments (B. Last)

House Government Operations Committee, 8:00, 30 House Bldg.

2. HB0291 Procurement Changes (K. Stratton)
4. SB0168 Civic Center Amendments (C. Bramble)
5. HB0306 Fees for Government Records Requests (Brian S. King)

House Political Subdivisions Committee, 8:00, 450 State Capitol

2. SB0112 Public Reporting Requirements (W. Harper)

House Revenue and Taxation Committee, 8:30, 445 State Capitol

2. HJR017 Proposal to Amend Utah Constitution — Limit on Federal Funds (R. Spendlove)
3. HB0328 Tax Changes (D. McCay)
4. SB0062 Certified Tax Rates Amendments (W. Harper)
5. SB0078 School District Property Tax Amendments (H. Stephenson)

House Education Committee, 4:10, 30 House Bldg.

1. HB0331 Professional Learning Grant Program (B. Last)
2. HB0263 State School Board Powers Modifications (N. Thurston)
3. HB0345 Abuse Policy for Educators (D. McCay)
4. HB0346 School Building Costs Reporting Amendments (J. Knotwell)
5. HB0349 School and Institutional Trust Lands Budget Amendments (M. Brown)
6. SB0033S01 Public School Graduation Amendments (A. Osmond)

Updated Bills and Bill Status To Be Posted Soon…

Feb. 20 Agenda

Senate Education Committee, 2:00 p.m., Rm. 210 Senate Bldg.

1. SB0145 Physics Education Pilot Program (H. Stephenson)
2. SB0196 Math Competency Initiative (A. Millner)
3. SB0195 Amendments to State Board of Education (A. Millner)
4. SJR005 Proposal to Amend Utah Constitution — State Board of Education Changes (A. Millner)
5. HB0049S02 Clean Fuel School Buses and Infrastructure (S. Handy)

House Political Subdivisions Committee, 2:00, 450 State Captiol

4. SB0029 School Planning and Zoning Process (E. Vickers)

Updated Bills and Bill Status

Board of Education Bills

There are now 6 published bills dealing with elections for State Board of Education.  We’ve broken down all 150+ pages of those bills and put them in a side-by-side comparison on Tab 3 of our Legislative Tracking Sheet.  Half would establish partisan elections, half would remove nonvoting members of the board, and all would repeal the current nominating process.  McCays bill and Millner’s bill are mirror images of each other, and both are running concurrent resolutions to change the Constitution to allow for the appointment of board members by the governor.

Feb. 19 Agenda

House Education Committee, 8:00 a.m., 30 House Bldg.

1. HB0282 Online Education Program Amendments (B. Daw)
2. HB0264 Competency Licensing for Educators (D. Lifferth)
3. SB0038 Behavioral Testing and Tracking Restrictions (A. Osmond)
4. SB0060 American Civics Education Initiative (H. Stephenson)

House Business and Labor, 8:00 a.m., 445 Capitol

4. SB0055 Community Development and Renewal Agencies Task Force (W. Harper)

Updated Bills and Bill Status

Feb. 18 Agenda

House Judiciary Committee, 8:00 a.m., 20 House Bldg.

1. HB0109S01 Expungement of Administrative Action (B. Greene)

Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Standing Committee, 8:03 a.m. 415 Capitol

3. SB0176 Governmental Immunity Act Amendments (C. Bramble)

Senate Education Committee, 4:10 p.m., 210 Senate Bldg.

2. HB0128 Maintenance of Student Records (G. Froerer)
3. HB0163 Student Data Breach Requirements (J. Knotwell)

House Political Subdivisions Committee, 4:10 p.m., 450 Capitol

2. SB0058 Municipal and County Officials Attendance At School District Board Meetings (W. Harper)

Senate Business and Labor Committee, 4:10, 215 Senate Bldg.

1. SB0157 Government Records Access and Management Act Amendments (C. Bramble)

Updated Bills and Bill Status 

Feb. 17 Wrap-up

Both the Senate and the House Education Committees met today.

In the Senate, SB175, Senator Thatcher’s School Safety and Crisis Line was discussed and voted out of committee unanimously.  Last year, Senator Thatcher’s School Safety Tip Line bill set up the School Safety Tip Line Commission to find a provider network that could provide 24-7 crises hotline services which employed social workers as operators, and to estimate the cost of such a service.  This year’s bill would establish that hotline through the University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI).  The hotline would receive anonymous calls regarding incidents of bullying and suicide situations.  The committee heard testimony that reports from teens skyrocket when they can call anonymously.  One committee member raised the question of whether a teacher can direct a student to call a hotline or whether a school can call a social worker instead of a parent.  Someone responded that Eliason ran a bill last year that would allow that.  Eliason’s bill, Suicide Prevention Revisions, SB23 from 2014, made some changes to the Utah FERPA rules governing the kinds of information a school employee can solicit from a student; the bill, now law, allows a school employee, volunteer or SRO to ask a student questions regarding the student’s suicidal thoughts, physically self-harming behavior, or thoughts of harming others for the purpose of referring the student to appropriate prevention services AND informing the student’s parents or legal guardian.  This begs the question of whether this provision from SB23 is enough to allow a school employee to direct a student to call a hotline or call the hotline himself rather than call a parent.  Other statutory language requires school employees to notify to parents without delay if a situation exists that presents a serious threat to the well-being of a student, and another law requires schools to notify parents of any bullying and/or suicide incident.  So CAN a school employee direct a student to the hotline, or call the hotline directly rather than notify parents?

Senator Osmond’s Public School Dropout Recovery bill, SB116, Sub 1 also received much discussion in the Senate committee.  This bill requires LEAs to put aside 30% of a WPU–or $892–for every dropout student, to be used for recovery and recruitment programs to get these kids back to school.  If the student does return to school even on a minimal, part-time basis, the LEA gets to count the student for 50% of an ADM.  Osmond referred to this strategy for focusing on dropout recovery as a “carrot and a stick” approach: give LEAs a carrot in the 50% ADM even if the student is only taking 1 class, but also use a stick in making LEAs put aside 30% of that WPU.  Thirty percent of a WPU is one thing when the LEA is receiving that WPU, but by the time the LEA gets WPU funds after a student has dropped out, that student is not bringing in any WPU funds so putting aside $892/per non-WPU’d dropout may be a tall order, even with the “carrot” in 50% ADM down the road.

The House Committee was a full house as the topic of standardized testing took center stage.  Rep. Poulson’s House Concurrent Resolution 007 urges USBE to study methods and protocols that would minimize testing and allow teachers to integration assessment throughout the curriculum.  The resolution received overwhelming support, mostly from teachers who told horror stories of 10 years olds sitting for 10 hours to take a test, of one elementary student running out of the classroom and hiding so he wouldn’t have to take the test, and of other students placing bets on who could finish faster without concern for their results.  One teacher choked back tears as she explained how the myriad of tests have impacted her personally.  Others testified that there is a need for tracking student growth and imposing a certain accountability on our teachers, but the emotional pleas to the committee to support the resolution were ultimately the loudest voices in the room.  The resolution passed in a 9-1 vote.

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.

Feb. 13 Agenda

House Retirement and Independent Entities Standing Committee, 7:15, 20 House Bldg.

1. HB0208 School District Postemployment Health Insurance Benefits (S. Eliason)
2. SB0011 Utah Retirement Systems Revisions (T. Weiler)

House Judiciary Standing Committee, 3:40, 20 House Bldg.

1. HB0183 Uniform Powers of Appointment Act (V. L. Snow)
2. HB0105 Antidiscrimination Modifications (J. Miller)
3. HCR002 Concurrent Resolution Designating Religious Freedom Day (Brian S. King)
4. HB0109 Expungement of Administrative Action (B. Greene)
5. HB0143 Prohibition on Tattooing of Minors (L. Christensen)
6. HB0277 Statute of Limitations for Civil Actions (K. Ivory)

Updated Bills and Bill Status

Feb. 11 Senate Education Committee Notes

A happy birthday to Representative Moss who joined the Committee to explain her bill HB69, English Language Arts Instruction Tool, before heading off to celebrate with her family!  Moss’s bill provides for the selection of a web-based interactive tool for Language Arts students that would give immediate feedback and allow the student to work at his/her own pace.  The bill passed out of Committee unanimously.

Senator Osmond’s SB34, Charter School Authorization Amendments was not so fortunate.  Even with the substitute language, the bill which allows a municipality to authorize a charter school failed in a 3-3 vote.  Robust discussion turned to the bigger philosophical question regarding charter schools in general:  are they effective?  Do we want/need more of them?  Should they require the oversight of other schools?  Are they getting that oversight?  Senator Osmond was clear in stating his bill did not address those big issues; it simply provided that a municipality be deemed a charter school authorizer, like the other 4 authorizers currently in statute.  Senator Millner questioned Senator Osmond about the practicality of having a city or town council be in the business of authorizing schools while Senator Stephenson adamantly defended the proposal, asserting school districts are not responsive to a municipality’s needs and municipalities who desire to have more control over education in their jurisdiction should have the opportunity to decide to start a school of its own.

The Governor’s office, through Tami Pyfer, expressed concern about the plan of expanding charter authorizers where charter funding is currently in flux and where the Governor is working on a ten year comprehensive plan that may address some of the concerns the bill is addressing. Ms. Pyfer also expressed concern that as a former local city council member, she does not believe city councils have the time to deal with a school on top of all other council responsibilities.  UEA opposed the bill pointing out that all other authorizers have some level of education expertise and a municipality has none, to which UAPCS representative Royce VanTassel replied, “no right-thinking city says I’m going to authorize a charter and doesn’t simultaneously go out and hire an education expert.”  One has to wonder where that right-thinking city will get the funds to hire an education expert considering budgetary constraints on municipalities.  Senator Madsen threw his support behind the bill stating, “This gives those officials in a new community a growing community—it gives them a vehicle to respond and say we want to do this—we’re going to take a stake in this…[This bill provides for] the ability of locals to respond to the request of their constituents, and respond, not depending on school districts.”

The bill failed in a 3-3 vote, Senators Dabakis, Millner, and Urquhart–who was silent during the discussion–voting against the bill and Senators Osmond, Stephenson, and Madsen voting in favor.

Feb. 12 Agenda

Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee, 8:00, Rm 445 State Capitol

1. 8:00 a.m. Approval of Minutes

2. 8:10 a.m. Final Budget Discussion & Questions:  a. Minimum School Program b. School Building Program  c. Statewide Education Agencies

3. 9:00 a.m. Intent Language

4. 9:20 a.m. Budget Motions

5. 9:30 a.m. Prioritization of Budget Recommendations

6. 10:50 a.m. Adjourn

House Education Committee, 3:40, 30 House Bldg.

1. HB0198 Strengthening College and Career Readiness (P. Arent)
2. HB0210 Early College High Schools (V. Peterson)
3. HB0118 Public Education Human Resource Management Act Revisions (B. Last)
4. HB0203 Teacher Salary Supplement Program Amendments (B. Last)

Updated Bills and Bill Status