Dems: Education Committee Report – Week 12, 2018

March 28, 2018
By

SF 2364 – School safety plans;
HF 2390 – ALS as a foreign language course;
HF 2420  – Iowa National Service Corps established;
HF 2441 – School district flexibility funds, Class Size Reduction funding flexibility. 

 

FLOOR ACTION:

SF 2364 requires a school district to establish a security plan for individual school buildings. The plan must include responses to active shooter scenarios and natural disasters. An amendment clarifies the plans are not subject to open record requests; adds state accredited non-public schools; requires plans to be reviewed and updated yearly; requires school officials and teachers (but not students) to conduct a drill of the plan at least once per school year; requires an alert to be sent to the employers of those regularly in the building but not school officials if an emergency occurs (these people will not know the plan, but in the case of contractors, construction workers, Area Education Agency  officials or others, they will be altered not to report to the building); requires schools to consult with local emergency management coordinators; and requires schools to publish threat-reporting procedures for school officials, parents and guardians.

The bill was amended by eliminating the requirement for all personnel to participate in the drill. Those participating would include administrators, teachers, secretaries, receptionists, school support staff and custodians. The drill may also include students. The drill may include a table top demonstration, partial drill or full drill. Prior to the drill, the authorities must provide a written plan, listing equipment and personnel to be used. A drill cannot be conducted unless the plan is approved by the participating school board or authorities from a non-public school.
[3/26: 47-0 (Bertrand, Zumbach excused; 49 seated senators)]

 

HF 2390 makes two changes regarding foreign language courses in schools. The first is a substantive change to allow school districts to use American Sign Language as an option to meet the district’s “offer and teach” requirements for foreign/world language. The second, a terminology change, is to refer to “foreign language” as “world language.”
[3/26: 47-0 (Excused: Bertrand, Zumbach; 49 seated senators)]

 

HF 2420 allows the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service to establish an Iowa National Service Corps program to provide opportunities for state agencies, political subdivisions of the state, and private, nonprofit organizations to meet state and local needs and provide opportunities for volunteer service. The bill provides that certain existing programs and service positions are automatically part of the Iowa National Service Corps program. A person participating in the program is exempt from the state merit system requirements and is ineligible to receive unemployment compensation benefits upon completion of service. The bill allows state agencies or political subdivisions of the state to establish hiring preferences for Iowa National Service Corps or AmeriCorps participants. Funding for this program is available through the Iowa summer youth corps established in current Code section 15H.5. Funds may also be provided by private sector, and local, state and federal government sources, or other available funds.
[3/28: 46-0 (Excused: Bertrand, Lykam, Zumbach; 49 senators seated)]

 

HF 2441 is the 2018 school district flexibility fund bill. It also restricts the Department of Education from issuing guidance that imposes a legal obligation or duty unless it is required or reasonably implied by law, rule or other legal authority. The provision does not apply to administrative rules, declaratory orders, a document or statement required by federal law or a court, or a document or statement issued in the course of an administrative or judicial proceeding. The bill mainly provides additional flexibility to various programs and funds at the school district level. These are some of the funding program modifications contained in the legislation:

  • Class Size Reduction/Early Intervention – The current categorical funding and program requires school districts to spend funds for class-size reduction for grades K-3 or increased reading programming. This program was set to expire this year, but the bill authorizes districts to continue to use the funding for any general purpose.
  • At-Risk/Dropout Prevention Funds – Instead of submitting a plan to the School Budget Review Committee, requests for a modified supplemental amount for at-risk students can be approved by resolution of a school board. The school district must provide a comprehensive plan, but the plan would no longer have to be a part of the comprehensive school improvement plan. The current cap limit of 5 percent of a school district’s budgeted enrollment that can be spent on such programs is removed. The bill specifically adds additional staff, salary and benefits of those working with at-risk or dropout prevention to the list of permissible uses of funding. The Senate adopted a technical amendment that aligned dates of the School Budget Review Committee meetings to deadlines for plan submission.
  • Leased Portions of a School Building – Allows school property to be leased and strikes a five-year lease duration limitation.
  • Sports Equipment – Last year’s flexibility bill allowed, by resolution, a school district to transfer from their general fund to their student activity fund an amount necessary to purchase protective and safety equipment. The bill adds the reconditioning of such protective and safety equipment.
    [3/28: 46-0 (Excused: Bertrand, Lykam, Zumbach; 49 senators seated)]

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