This is the first day of the last full week of the Utah Legislature’s 2011 general session, which officially ends Thursday, March 10 at the stroke of midnight. The last day scheduled for committee hearings is Wednesday. And while the end is drawing very near, we have 19 new education-related bills to add to our bills to watch list. One of these bills was just made public this morning, H.B. 447 Kindergarten Literacy Improvement Program, and was originally scheduled to get its first hearing tomorrow in the House Education Committee. However, the bill has since been removed from tomorrow’s agenda.
Here’s a brief introduction of all the new additions to the legislature’s education bill roster:
- H.B. 288 Concurrent Enrollment Transcripts, by Rep. Ronda Rudd Menlove (R-Garland), requires the State Board of Education and the State Board of Regents to track concurrent enrollment students and coordinate advising for them.
- H.B. 290 Public School Transportation Amendments, by Rep. Carl Wimmer (R-Herriman), modifies the student transportation program so that buses for elementary school students must be fully funded, any remaining funds would go to fund buses for secondary students. The bill also changes the boundary for determining who is eligible for elementary school busing, decreasing it from 1.5 miles from a school to 1 mile.
- H.B. 302 Reading Program Amendments, by Rep. Merlynn Newbold (R-South Jordan), requires the State Board of Education to contract with an educational technology vendor for a K-3 reading assessment system. This would be phased-in to half the school’s elementary students next school year and to the remaining schools the year after.
- H.B. 313 Charter School Funding Amendments, also by Rep. Merlynn Newbold (R-South Jordan), gradually modifies how charter schools are funded over a period of 13 years. The modifications include changing the funding provided to a charter school to replace local property taxes that are unavailable to charters, increasing the portion of district revenues a school district allocates for charter students and decreasing state funds for charters.
- H.B. 315 Accepting Federal Funds Amendments, by Rep. Ken Sumsion (R-American Fork), requires a state review of federal funds requests of more than $50,000 and allows the Legislature to opt out or to decline to receive certain federal funds.
- H.B. 398 Utah State Instructional Materials Access Center Funding, by Rep. Stephen Handy (R-Layton), authorizing the State Office of Education to withhold funding from school districts that breach their contractual obligations by not paying for materials ordered from the Utah State Instructional Materials Center (USIMAC).
- H.B. 415 Schools for the Deaf and Blind Foundation, by Rep. Stephen Handy (R-Layton), authorizes the Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind to establish a non-profit foundation.
- H.B. 426 Taxes for Education Funding Amendments, by Rep. Dixon Pitcher (R-Ogden), imposes a 1 percent tax on soft drinks and deposits the revenue collected from the tax into the Education Fund.
- H.B. 447 Kindergarten Literacy Improvement Program, Rep. Johnny Anderson (R-Taylorsville), requires the allocate $7.5 million for the State Board of Education to contract with an educational technology provider for a computer-based kindergarten literacy program.
- H.B. 459 Education Interpretation Services for Deaf and Hearing Impaired Students, by Rep. Don Ipson (R-St. George), prohibits interpreter services from forming a monopoly or engaging in price fixing, describes the membership requirements for Interpreters Certification Board and provides an exemption from interpreter certification.
- S.J.R. 27 Bullying and Cyber Bullying Standards for School Districts Joint Resolution, by Sen. Ralph Okerlund (R-Monroe), expresses support for Utah school districts and charter schools to implement protections against bullying, cyber bullying, and other physical or emotional harm.
- S.B. 70 Community Development and Renewal Agencies Amendments, by Sen. Curt Bramble (R-Provo), amends provisions of the Community Development and Renewal Agencies Act by authorizing an agency to designate a core business development district and approve an urban renewal project area budget extension, and makes other changes.
- S.B. 72 Initiative Amendments, by Sen. Lyle Hillyard (R-Logan), requires an initiative to contain no more than one subject; authorizes initiative petition sponsors to change the text of a proposed law following public hearings; and requires the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget to update an initial fiscal impact estimate if the text of a proposed law is changed.
- S.B. 172 Political Subdivisions Administration Amendments, by Sen. Howard Stephenson (R-Draper), prohibits a political subdivision from appointing or hiring a manager or similar position during an interim vacancy period in certain circumstances.
- S.B. 216 Oversight of Public Funds, by Sen. Mark Madsen (R-Lehi), requires public schools to comply with existing reporting requirements if they receive at least 50% of their funds from federal, state, and local government entities through fees, dues, gate receipts, broadcast rights and penalties.
- S.B. 217 Education Policy Amendments, by Sen. Curt Bramble (R-Provo), requires schools that receive grants from the Beverly Taylor Sorenson Elementary Arts Learning Program to provide certain matching funds; requires the State Board of Education to make additional funds available for schools to participate in the program, based on the matching funds coming from grant recipients; and removes the repeal date for the program.
- S.B. 224 Partisan School Board Elections, by Sen. Howard Stephenson (R-Draper), requires members of the State Board of Education to be elected in a partisan election, among other provisions.
- S.B. 263 State Board of Education Powers Amendments, Sen. Chris Buttars (R-West Jordan), narrows the definition of the State Board’s “general control and supervision” of Utah’s public education system. It states the State Board may adopt rules and policies in accordance with its responsibilities under the constitution and as provided by the Legislature in statute.