June 12 Legislative Update

Today concludes the seventh week of the 2009 Regular Legislative Session of the Louisiana Legislature. The Cowen Institute is pleased to share with you updates from the Senate and House Education Committees, including a recap of the bills that came up this week and information on what is scheduled for next week’s meetings. We will also keep you posted on hot issues affecting education that arise during the session.

This week’s update includes information on the following:
School Facilities Legislation Update
House Education Committee
Senate Education Committee

If you would like more information on specific bills, please contact Nash Molpus at nmolpus@tulane.edu.

School Facilities Update

Bills to support public school facilities in Louisiana continue to move through the House and Senate. SB 90, which creates a Louisiana Statewide Education Facilities Authority, passed unanimously out of the Senate Finance Committee on Monday, June 8. It will be heard on the Senate Floor today or Monday.

HB 689, which creates the Louisiana Statewide Education Facilities Fund, passed the House floor on Wednesday, May 27. It will be heard in the Senate Finance Committee next week.

House Education Committee

Last Week:
On Tuesday, June 9 the House Committee on Education met to consider eleven bills and resolutions. The following were reported favorably:

HB 223 (Armes) – This bill is relative to noncomplex health procedures that are performed by certain school employees and serves to allow tracheotomy suctioning to be performed by those employees.

HB 495 (Dixon) – This bill exempts a school that meets specified criteria from being removed from the jurisdiction of the local school board and transferred to the Recovery School District (RSD).

HCR 53 (Hutter) – This resolution requests BESE to develop and implement an age-appropriate unit on hurricane awareness for students in each grade in all local public school systems.

HCR 54 (Hutter) – This resolution requests the Louisiana Department of Education to compile statistics relative to where public school teachers certified in the past 10 years received degrees and report to education committees.

HCR 101 (Simon) – This resolution requests instruction on principles of Universal Design and Visitability in certain graduate degree programs.

HCR 165 (Dixon) – This resolution requests BESE to implement a policy to provide for an alternate method of assessing the overall performances of alternative schools.

SB 223 (Claitor) – This bill provides relative to the removal of students from the classroom for certain inappropriate behavior and for parental notification and involvement.

SB 259 (Kostelka) – This bill requires that each major have a corresponding diploma, that the academic major diploma be adopted by BESE and offered by each public school board, that the career major diploma be developed and proposed by each public school board, and that BESE have final approval of each career major and corresponding diploma.

SB 285 (Nevers) – This bill provides for a comprehensive system of articulation and transfer of credit between and among public secondary and postsecondary educational institutions.

SB 309 (Gray Evans) – This bill provides for health-related fitness assessments to determine physical fitness levels of students in schools.

The following bill was voluntarily deferred and has been placed on the agenda for next week’s meeting:

HB 571 (Norton) – This bill prohibits corporal punishment in public elementary and secondary schools, beginning with the 2009-2010 school year.

The Committee also heard two presentations. The Early Childhood and Family Foundation presented relative to early childhood learning and Act 876 from the 2008 Regular Legislative Session. Additionally, representatives from the Louisiana Department of Education and Recovery School District Superintendent Paul Vallas presented on recent LEAP and GEE test scores. Click here to view the presentation on the LEAP and GEE. Click here to view the Superintendents’ report.

Summary of Alternative School Bill Debate

The House Education Committee spent considerable time debating HB 495 to exempt Ewell S. Aiken Optional School in Rapides Parish from being transferred to the Recovery School District (RSD). Aiken is an alternative school that allows non-traditional students a chance to earn a diploma. Aiken has labeled academically unacceptably for four consecutive years, making the school eligible for state takeover. However, HB 495 would prevent the state from placing Aiken in the RSD.

In January, the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) voted to adopt the recommendation of the State Superintendent Paul Pastorek to offer Aiken a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). An MOU is an intermediary placement for a failing school that keeps the school from being placed directly under the RSD [learn more]. The Rapides Parish School Board has not signed the MOU. HB 495 is scheduled for floor debate on Monday, June 15.

Next Week
The House Education Committee will meet on Tuesday, June 16 at 9:00 a.m. in House Committee Room 1 to consider the following bills and resolutions:

HB 571 (Norton) – This bill prohibits corporal punishment in public elementary and secondary schools, beginning with the 2009-2010 school year.

SB 129 (Dorsey) – This bill requires Louisiana Student Financial Assistance Commission (LASFAC) to adopt guidelines and procedures permitting the commission, for the 2007-2008 academic year and thereafter, to receive and consider an application to return from an out-of-state college or university that is received after the final deadline for such applications, with the same reductions in award eligibility for any awards granted districts.

SB 324 (LaFleur) – This bill authorizes school districts under the Evangeline Parish School Board to increase the sales tax, not to exceed one percent.

SCR 17 (Nevers) – This resolution provides for legislative approval of the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) formula for FY 2009-2010 as adopted by BESE on March 12, 2009.

SCR 48 (Broome) – This resolution creates the Southern University Center for Equitable Development Task Force to study and develop statewide recommendations for local strategies and initiatives to meet the needs of economically depressed communities across the state.

SCR 68 (Adley) – This resolution requests the La. Student Financial Assistance Commission to study the feasibility of weighting grades earned in honors and other advanced courses when calculating grade point averages to determine TOPS eligibility.

SCR 83 (Duplessis) – This resolution urges and requests BESE to adopt a policy relative to appropriate and acceptable administrative overhead costs for which fees may be charged to a charter school by the chartering authority.

Senate Education Committee

Last Week
On Thursday, June 11 the Senate Committee on Education met to consider twenty-two bills and resolutions. The following were reported favorably:

HCR 33 (Leger) – This resolution requests the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) to study charter school use of city, parish and other local public school system-owned facilities.

HCR 45 (Willmott) – This resolution requests nonpublic schools with grades ten and twelve to provide students enrolled in such grades at least thirty minutes of classroom instruction pertaining to the Safe Haven Law.

HCR 46 (Willmott) – This resolution requests the governing authority of each public and state-approved nonpublic school to incorporate exercises from the Prevent Injury and Enhance Performance program (PEP) into physical education classes and athletic training programs.

HCR 177 (Stiaes) – This resolution requests public school boards and superintendents to dedicate federal stimulus dollars to low performing schools.

HCR 180 (Richard) – This resolution requests the Board of Regents to conduct a study of tuition charges at Louisiana’s public postsecondary education institutions, particularly the feasibility of tuition for full-time students based on credit hours.

HCR 192 (Carmody) – This resolution requests BESE to study all issues relative to advertising on school buses.

HB 179 (Stiaes) – This bill prohibits the use of test scores, including LEAP test scores, as the sole determinant of student promotion to the succeeding grade.

HB 193 (Chaney) – This bill provides for rules and regulations for school nutrition programs and a limitation of liability relative to such programs.

HB 246 (McVea) – This bill permits, with voter approval, certain school systems created by the legislature after Jan. 1, 1999, to incur bonded debt that exceeds 10% but does not exceed 50% of the assessed valuation of the taxable property within the geographic boundaries of the school system.

HB 308 (LeBas) – This bill serves to allow eligible students in Louisiana nonpublic high schools or home study programs to participate in dual enrollment program at postsecondary education institutions as applicable to a student in a Louisiana public high school.

HB 319 (Willmott) – This bill proposes that the governing body of schools with grades 10 and/or 12 shall provide for the students enrolled in those grades at least thirty minutes of age and grade appropriate instruction relative to the state’s safe haven relinquishment law.

HB 400 (Williams) – This bill requires public schools to provide at least 60 minutes of physical activity each school day for students in kindergarten through 8th grade and instruction in physical education as a prerequisite to high school graduation.

HB 531 (Henry) – This bill provides eligibility for certain home study students to participate in public school interscholastic extracurricular activities.

HB 535 (Williams) – This bill creates the Simulation Medical Training and Education Council for Louisiana, a statewide council within the Health Works Commission to oversee the coordination of resources involving medical simulation training centers.

HB 546 (Perry) – This bill authorizes the Vermilion Parish School Board to sell certain 16th section land.

HB 568 (Hutter) – This bill provides certain guarantees to students with associate degrees who seek to enroll in public postsecondary education institutions that offer baccalaureate degrees.

HB 590 (Barrow) – This bill requires public school governing authorities to ensure that a child in foster care is allowed to remain enrolled in the same school in which he was enrolled upon entering foster care. It also requires such governing authorities and Department of Social Services (DSS) to provide for transportation if foster care placement is beyond school’s jurisdictional boundaries.

HB 731 (Downs) – This bill is relative to the habitual absence and tardiness of students, and serves to include penalties for violations by parents and legal guardians/custodians of such students.

HB 741 (A. Badon) – This bill provides relative to the hiring of employees by local public school boards and the disclosure of information of certain instances of sexual misconduct, abuse, and neglect relative thereto.

HB 767 (Williams) – This bill is relative to beverages offered for sale to students in public high schools. It deletes the requirement that the beverages offered for sale to public high school students shall be comprised of no less than 50% for approved beverages.

HB 794 (Tucker) – This bill requires the Board of Regents to establish the Postsecondary Education Review Commission to review all aspects of postsecondary education and report to the legislature.

The following bill was voluntarily deferred:

HB 780 (Nowlin) – This bill provides with respect to the purchase of immovable property relative to the development of a replacement for the Medical Center of Louisiana at New Orleans.

Next Week

The Senate Committee on Education will meet on Thursday, June 18 after the Senate adjourns. The agenda for this meeting is not yet posted.

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