This session has already given us charter schools and virtual schools and moved the governance of the two-year college system to a newly appointed board of trustees. The Alabama Student Religious Liberties Act of 2015 gained final passage just last week.
The Department of Children Affairs was renamed to the Department of Early Childhood Education and the Commissioner now holds the title of Secretary of the Department. Particularly timely given that Alabama’s First Class preschool program was once again named in the Top 5 in the country.
(Pssst: the State Board of Education will name the Alabama Public Charter School Commission at their regular meeting on Wednesday, May 13. Their meetings are broadcast live online.)
A number of items expected to gain passage are waiting for final action, including the changes to the Alabama Accountability Act (AAA). A spokesperson for the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Del Marsh (R-Anniston), said a request has been made to put SB71 on the House special order calendar, but no date has been given for the full House to consider the changes. If the House approves the bill, it still must return to the Senate for concurrence, as the House committee made two amendments (here and here) to the Senate’s version.
The Alabama Ahead Act, SB1, passed out of a House committee last week, still has to face the full House, and because the House committee introduced a substitute, it, too, must return to the Senate for concurrence after passage.
Other bills related to K-12 education that are awaiting their final passage are
- HB5, the Flexible School Calendar Act, allowing districts to provide 1080 instructional hours as opposed to 180 days of instruction,
- SB114, providing for the ALSDE to offer matching grants to local school districts providing services for gifted students,
- a number of bills tweaking the Open Meetings Act, that would affect local boards of education.
The Education Trust Fund (ETF) budget has passed the Senate, but the House has yet to take up the ETF budget. Expect that in the coming days.
Representative Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa) has introduced HB322 to amend the Rolling Reserve Act, and it’s up for committee approval on Wednesday.
The Tim Tebow Act, HB236, gained approval from the House, but still has a few steps to go to gain final passage.
And while you should never say never, other bills may have a hard time making it through the legislature before the end of the session.
Tweaks to the Education Intervention Act are stuck in limbo. A bill to change elected superintendents to appointed superintendents has a few steps to go.
Bills to make cyber-bullying a crime and to require the identification of dyslexia in students are still sitting in committee.
A $250 tax credit for educators who purchase school supplies is awaiting committee passage as well.
A couple of bills related to civics instruction, one requiring civics instruction every year in grades 7-12 and the other requiring passage of a civics test as a condition of receiving an Alabama high school diploma, haven’t moved quickly, either.
Two-thirds of the way through, and there is still much on the table. Stay tuned.