May 29 Legislative Update

Today concludes the fifth 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:

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

School Facilities Legislation Continues to Move Forward

This Week
On Wednesday, May 27 the bill creating the Louisiana Statewide Education Facilities Fund, HB 689, sponsored by Representative Karen Carter Peterson passed the Louisiana House of Representatives. This bill is part of the package of two bills that will create a Statewide Education Facilities Authority (SB 90) and Fund (HB 689). Together, these bills will create an additional source of funding for local school districts to begin to repair and renovate our crumbling school infrastructure. HB 689 is now assigned to the Senate Finance Committee.

Just before HB 689 was approved and adopted by the House, Senator Cheryl Gray Evans and Representative Karen Carter Peterson held a press conference on the steps of the Louisiana Capitol to discuss the importance of creating a Statewide Education Facilities Authority and Fund. The two were joined by representatives from Agenda for Children, East Bank Collaborative, Louisiana School Boards Association, Children’s Defense Fund, Louisiana Federation of Teachers, and numerous other Senators and Representatives.

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 Wednesday, May 27 at 9:00 a.m. in House Committee Room 1 to consider fourteen bills. The following bills were reported favorably by the Committee:

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. [with amendments]

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

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. [with amendments; recommended to recommit to the House Appropriations Committee]

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. [with amendments]

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

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. [with amendments]

The following bill was involuntarily deferred:

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.

The following bills were voluntarily deferred:

HB 440 (Barrow) – This bill prohibits the use of test scores, including LEAP test scores, as the sole criteria of student promotion to the succeeding grade.

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 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.

Next Week
The House Committee on Education will meet on Tuesday, June 2 at 9:00 a.m. in House Committee Room 1 to consider the following bills:

HB 218 (Hardy) – This bill proposes that the governing authority of all secondary and elementary schools, including charter schools, shall adopt and implement policies that provide for the inspection of all fire safety and prevention equipment. It also requires necessary actions taken, in a timely manner, to have equipment in good working order.

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.

HB 872 (Downs) – This bill authorizes LSU, Southern, and the University of Louisiana boards of supervisors to impose specified tuition and attendance fee increases for certain students attending institutions under their management and supervision.

HCR 37 (P. Smith) – This resolution requests city, parish and other local public school boards to include student representation on their boards in an advisory, nonvoting capacity.

HCR 68 (Dixon) – This resolution requests BESE to study standards it uses to approve alternative education programs as such standards relate to providing sufficient counseling services and security.

HCR 112 (Downs) – This resolution requests local public school boards to convene public meetings at least twice each year with the appropriate local law enforcement authorities and school personnel to discuss and report on issues relative to school attendance and behavioral problems of students and to formulate local annual action plans to improve student behavior and school attendance.

HCR 131 (P. Smith) – This resolution requests BESE to develop and adopt policies relative to options and strategies for schools in danger of state takeover.

HCR 151 (P. Smith) – This resolution requests the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) to study the feasibility of returning certain schools transferred to the Recovery School District (RSD) to the local school systems from which they were transferred under certain circumstances.

HCR 164 (P. Smith) – This resolution requests BESE to conduct an in-depth study of the financial burden on local school systems imposed by rising costs of providing retiree health care benefits and to recommend a solution.

HCR 168 (Leger) – This resolution requests BESE to create a task force to study issues relative to charter school funding.

SB 120 (Erdey) – This bill allows the Livingston Parish School Board to create new school districts that overlap the boundaries of existing school districts.

SB 146 (Duplessis) – This bill requires BESE and local school boards to follow the charter school application review process set out by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and to provide an independent evaluation of charter school proposals by a qualified third party. Additionally, it allows charter schools to give preference to siblings submitting applications to enroll and removes the prohibition of support and affiliation with religion or religious organizations.

SCR 9 (Nevers) – This resolution requests city, parish, and other local public school boards to include student representation to such local boards in an advisory, non-voting capacity.

SCR 13 (Broome) – This resolution requests Southern University to establish a plan and recommend policies that support university-private sector partnerships in renewable energy.

SCR 26 (Broome) – This resolution requests BESE to ensure that a comprehensive study is conducted to determine a base per pupil expenditure that is equitable and adequate to provide the quality of education necessary for all students to meet the state’s academic standards and testing requirements.

SCR 27 (Nevers) – This resolution requests the High School Redesign Commission to study the feasibility of establishing a statewide uniform grading scale for use in all public high schools.

SCR 67 (Duplessis) – This resolution requests BESE to study criteria for considering the renewal of the charter of a failing charter school.

Senate Committee on Education

This week
The Senate Committee on Education met on Thursday, May 28 at 9:00 a.m. in the John J. Hainkel, Jr. Room to consider the following bills:

SB 85 (Gautreaux) – This bill proposes a cap on TOPS awards, beginning 2010-2011 school year; the amount would be exclusive of any additional payments awarded to students who qualify to receive a Performance or Honors award.

HB 176 (Pope) – This bill allows a student, at least in ninth grade and less than fifteen years old, to participate in the classroom instruction component of driver education and training, as operated by Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE).

HB 183 (Hoffman) – This bill authorizes BESE to establish an appeals process for applicants denied teacher certification. Applicants would appeal to the Teacher Certification Appeals Council.

HB 621 (Hoffman) – This bill additionally requires BESE to implement certain policies relative to the certification of foreign associate teachers.

After discussion on the Senate Concurrent Resolution that presents for adoption of the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) formula for FY 2009-2010, Senator Nevers voluntarily deferred the resolution. Nevers plans to send a letter to the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) to clarify certain points in the formula and then place it on the agenda for next week’s meeting. The resolution is as follows:

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.

Next week
The Senate Committee on Education will meet on Thursday, June 4 in the John J. Hainkel, Jr. Room. The agenda for this meeting has not yet been posted.

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