May 22 Legislative Update

Today concludes the fourth 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
House Education Committee
Senate Education Committee
School Board Reform Legislation
May 2009 BESE Meeting

If you would like more information on specific bills, please contact Nash Molpus at  

School Facilities Legislation Moving Forward

Legislation to create the Louisiana Statewide Educational Facilities Authority (SB 90) and Louisiana Statewide Educational Facilities Fund (HB 689) are moving forward through the Louisiana Legislature. Together these bills will help local school districts address the crumbling K-12 public school facilities across Louisiana. On Thursday, May 14, SB 90 was reported favorably with no opposition from the Senate Committee on Education. On Monday, May 18, HB 689 was reported favorably with no opposition from the House Appropriations Committee. SB 90 was recommitted to the Senate Finance Committee and should be heard in the next week.

SB 90 – Louisiana Statewide Educational Facilities Authority [more info]

HB 689 – Louisiana Statewide Educational Facilities Fund [more info]

House Committee on Education

This week
The House Committee on Education met on Monday, May 18 and on Tuesday, May 19 to consider fourteen bills. The following bills were reported favorably by the Committee:

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 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 576 (Johnson) – This bill authorizes the state superintendent of education, with BESE approval, to set certain rates and fees for the Cecil J. Picard Educational and Recreational Center in Bunkie, Louisiana.

HB 741 (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.

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.

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 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 602 (LeBas) – This bill allows public school students to carry and self-administer certain medications under certain conditions.

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 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.

HB 851 (S. Carter) – This bill is relative to the powers, duties, functions, and responsibilities of city, parish, and other local public school boards including prohibitions on the involvement of members of local school boards in certain administrative matters. It provides for the vote required for hiring and removal of a local school superintendent.

The following bills were deferred:

HB 209 (Williams) – This bill proposes that LEAP test requirements for 4th and 8th grade students to be promoted to the 5th and 9th grades shall not apply to students with exceptionalities.

HB 808 (S. Carter) – This bill provides relative to compensation and benefits for local school board members.

Next week
The House Committee on Education will meet on Wednesday, May 27 at 9:00 a.m. to consider the following bills:

HB 47 (Hardy) – This bill proposes that public school students in grades 6 through 12 be required to hold at least a 2.0 GPA in order to participate in interscholastic athletics and other extracurricular activities.

HB 89 (Burford) – This bill serves to delete the requirement of LA 4 classes to maintain the required level of funding from any source for any early childhood education, in each year of participation, as provided in the previous year.

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 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 496 (Harrison) – This bill abolishes BESE, transfers its functions to the state superintendent of education, provides for appointment of superintendent by governor, provides for proposal of the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) formula by superintendent, and permits legislative amendment of MFP formula.

HB 519 (Leger) – This bill sets a minimum on the fee that can be negotiated between a school chartering authority and a charter school to cover administrative costs of the chartering authority. It will be applicable to all years after the first year and the minimum amount will be 2% of the per pupil funding amount received by the school.

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

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

HB 616 (Honey) – This bill permits students not initially eligible for Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) award to be eligible for the award based on the student meeting all requirements established for a person who initially receives the program award.

HB 721 (Johnson) – This bill is relative to the funding of special education and related services for students living in private residential facilities who are neither Louisiana residents nor in the permanent custody of a Louisiana state agency.

HB 848 (P. Smith) – This bill provides for certain reductions to the Recovery School District’s (RSD) annual appropriation with regard to certain retiree health care costs of a school system in which one or more of its schools has been transferred to the RSD and for allocations of such amount to the prior school system.

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 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.

Senate Committee on EducationThis week
The Senate Committee on Education met on Thursday, May 21 at 9:00 a.m. in the John J. Hainkel Room to consider the following five bills:

SB 19 (Crowe) – This bill creates the TOPS-Tech Plus Award for recipients who have been awarded an associate degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA on a 4.00 scale and who will enroll in an eligible college or university to pursue an academic associate or undergraduate degree.

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 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 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.

Next week
The Senate Committee on Education will meet on Thursday, May 28 at 9:00 a.m. in the John J. Hainkel Room. The agenda for the meeting is not yet available. 

Update on School Board Reform Legislation

All four of the bills within Representative Steve Carter’s school board reform package have been through their first round of deliberation at the Louisiana Legislature with only one surviving. The first two bills in this package were related to the school nepotism law (HB 371) and the establishment of term limits for school board members (HB 664). These bills were considered by the House & Governmental Affairs Committee on April 29. HB 371 was voluntarily deferred by the author and HB 664 was involuntarily deferred by a vote of the Committee.

The other two bills, which relate to the powers and duties of school board members (HB 851) and school board member compensation (HB 808), were considered by the House Education Committee on Tuesday, May 19. The Committee reported HB 851 favorably with amendments and it is now pending final passage by the House. HB 808 was voluntarily deferred by the author and does not appear on the agenda for next week’s House Education Committee meeting.

 Summary of the current version of HB 851 [more info]

Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) Meeting

On Wednesday, May 20, the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) held its regularly scheduled monthly meeting. The agenda included a presentation of the Recovery School District (RSD) FY2010 budget and an update on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds for education

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