Tabled, passed and deferred

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Tabled, passed and deferred

It went in that order this morning during the House Education committee’s meeting, which featured four important bills for K-12 education.


1200 Tabled


Rep. Lance Russell (30), sponsor of House Bill 1200, asked committee members to table the bill, which would have required school boards to hold a public hearing on any proposed purchase, lease or issue of capital outlay certificate with a cost over $250,000.


The bill would have changed the current public hearing requirement level of 1.5% of the taxable valuation of taxable property in the district.


Russell cited the need to retool HB 1200 before moving forward with it. ASBSD opposed the bill.


“Under 100” bills advanced


Committee members favored two bills offering leeway to school districts with enrollments under 100, which by state law requires consolidation.


Senate Bill 96, which already made its way through the Senate, was unanimously passed while House Bill 1213 moved on by a 9-6 vote. ASBSD opposes HB 1213.


Senate Bill 96 would allow school districts to remain open if they are exercising joint powers or intergovernmental cooperation in education, which would allow districts to share services and costs. House Bill 1213 allows school districts to remain open, but reduces the amount of state aid and eliminates the small school adjustment after school district drops under 100 total students.


Although each bill aims to keep the doors of small districts open, they conflict with each other’s end goal. HB 1213 would decrease much needed funding for smaller school districts where SB 96 keeps funding on par with the state and allows collaboration of resources among districts.


ASBSD Director of Policy and Legal Services William Engberg referred to the bill as “brilliant” because “it uses existing resources” by utilizing the joint powers agreement in his testimony before the committee.


“The intent of (SB 96) is to give local school boards maximum flexibility,” Sen. Mark Johnston (12), the bill’s sponsor, said.


ASBSD supports SB 96.


Action grounded on pilot program


The decision on a bill that would establish a home-based educational technology program will wait until Friday.


House Bill 1183 calls for the appropriation of funds to put a computer and Internet access into the homes of preschool aged children to prepare them for school. ASBSD opposes the bill.


Bill sponsor Rep. Jacqueline Sly (33) said pre-school aged children would spend 15-20 minutes per day working on interactive, educational programs on the computer. Sly said she modeled HB 1183 after a similar program in Utah.


Sly introduced an amendment that attached $1 to the bill and said the dollar amount supplied would dictate the number of participants. She said funding for the program would be ongoing.


Opponents testified the bill conflicted with the practices of federal head start programs, raised concerns of the amount of time that could be spent in front of the computer and used general fund dollars that would take away state funding dollars for schools.


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