What’s Up at the Capitol This Week?

Az Republic Editorial On Consolidation
Click Oppose to read.

By the numbers:
Elementary school districts — 97 with 434 schools
High school districts — 15 with 70 schools
Unified districts — 95 with 707 elementary schools, 143 high schools and 73 combined schools
Accommodation districts — 8 with 5 elementary schools, 9 high schools and 7 combined schools

SB1022 hours; seventh and eighth grade (Allen)
Signed by the governor. This bill lowers the instructional hours for 7th and 8th grade to 890 hours, from 1,000 hours. Thank you to Payson Supt. Greg Wyman for taking up this issue and to several other superintendents who reached out to their legislators to garner support. It would be a positive gesture now to email Senator Allen and Govenor Ducey to thank them for this bill.

Action in the Senate

HB 2139 s/e schools; consolidation; unification (Fillmore)
Passed Senate Approps as amended 6-3.
• Requires that every school district in the state must be a unified school district by July 1 2024.
• Schools must determine the savings from consolidation and use that money in the classroom.
• Requires county school supts to conduct a feasibility study on consolidation for districts in their county.
• Appropriates $250,000 to each county for this purpose with a population of 500,000 or less.
• Appropriates $750,000 to each county for this purpose with a population of 500,000 or more.
ASA strongly opposes this striker bill. Contact your local legislator and urge a no vote.

HB 2032 s/e school employees; statements; employer discipline (Townsend) Passed Senate Approps. as amended 6-3.
Specifies that a person acting on behalf of a school district or charter cannot use speech or curricula during school time with the intent of influencing or changing a student’s political ideology. A committee amendment removed the provision related to influencing religious beliefs. A RedforEd reprisal bill.
15-341 requires all districts to exclude any partisan or sectarian curriculum or materials from the classroom and that teachers are required to be nonsectarian and nonpartisan. The bill leaves open questions like, who decides what “intent to influence” means? ASA opposes. Contact your local legislator and urge a no vote.

Action in the House

SB 1071 school districts; personnel evaluations (Boyer)
Passed COW as amended.
Eliminates the model framework for evaluation. Changes requirement for quantitative data to 20 – 33% of the evaluation. Amended to add charter schools to establish a performance evaluation system. ASA supports.

Stakeholder Meetings Also of Interest.

Striker permits a school district or charter school to refuse to admit a pupil who is currently suspended or in the process of being suspended from another educational institution. Or can place student immediately in an alternative program. All schools and charters must establish an alternative-to-suspension program.
Rebecca and Mark B. attended a stakeholder meeting on Wednesday called by the bill sponsor, Senator Gray. Representatives from the AZ chamber, AEA, ACLU, ASBA, Dysart Unified, and the governor’s office were there. There were concerns from several groups around Arizona’s suspension and expulsion laws in general. The ACLU, A For Arizona, and the AEA expressed concerns that reasons for expulsion seem to vary widely among school districts. The consensus of the meeting was that 1149 won’t move forward and a working group of representatives from each group listed above (including ASA) will address our student discipline laws this interim.