Several problematic education bills introduced

January 23, 2017

In addition to the constitutional amendments that would allow the Board of Education to approve charter schools, two bills on the same topic have been introduced. HB 2342 (Landes) and SB 1283 (Obenshain) would allow the Board of Education to establish charter school divisions in regions where one or more of the school divisions have an enrollment of more than 3,000 students and one or more schools have been denied accreditation for two of the past three years. A school board would be appointed for the regional charter school division, with eight members to be appointed by the state Board and three members to be appointed by the governing bodies of the underlying locality’s school divisions. This regional school board would make decisions about the establishment of charter schools within the region. While the provisions allowing for some local participation in the regional school board are an improvement over the constitutional amendments, the composition of the regional school board is heavily weighted toward appointees of the state Board.

VACo has historically opposed decisions about local schools being removed from the hands of local school boards.

HB 2342 has been referred to the House Education Committee’s Subcommittee on Education Innovation. SB 1283 has been referred to the Senate Education and Health Committee.

HB 1605 (LaRock) and SB 1243 (Dunnavant) provide for Parental Choice Education Savings Accounts and are variations on legislation that has been considered in previous years. The Senate bill is more narrowly tailored and applies only to children with Individualized Education Programs who live in families with incomes less than or equal to 300 percent of the poverty. The House bill would provide additional funding to children in these families, but would allow all students who attended public schools for two semesters to apply to participate. Both bills allow for the transfer of state Standards of Quality funding to the families of qualified students for use in a variety of education-related expenses, such as tuition at private schools (which could be sectarian or non-sectarian) and fees for standardized tests.

VACo has historically opposed such measures because they siphon public funds away from public schools. The effect would be particularly pronounced among localities with low Local Composite Indices.

HB 1605 has been referred to the House Education Committee’s Subcommittee on Education Innovation. SB 1243 (Dunnavant) has been referred to the Senate Education and Health Committee. It was docketed for last Thursday’s meeting but was delayed for a week at the request of the patron.

VACo Members are encouraged to make calls in opposition to these bills.

House Education Committee Subcommittee on Education Innovation: Greason (Chairman), Bell, Richard P., Robinson, Yancey, Dudenhefer, Leftwich, Tyler, Bulova

House Education Committee: Landes (Chairman), Pogge (Vice Chair), Lingamfelter, Cole, Massie, Greason, Bell, Richard P., LeMunyon, Robinson, Yost, Yancey, Dudenhefer, Davis, Leftwich, LaRock, Tyler, Bulova, Keam, Hester, Lindsey, Bagby

Senate Education and Health Committee: Newman (Chairman), Saslaw, Lucas, Howell, Locke, Barker, Black, Carrico, Petersen, Cosgrove, Lewis, Dunnavant, Chase, Suetterlein, Peake

VACo Members – Share your thoughts on FlagPoll.

VACo Contact: Katie Boyle

 

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