Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Day 66

School Closure Bill Introduced

Legislative Leadership today introduced SB1693 and HB2910 public school closures; coronavirus disease, which are mirror bills intendted to address some of the technical provisions of how districts handle the mandated closure.

The bills essentially break into two sections–what happens during the current two-week mandated closure, and a second set of actions that trigger if the closure extends past March 30.

We have put together a complete summary available here.

Essentially, the bill would provide relief from minimum instructional requirements, push back testing windows, and provide authority for staff pay for the two week shutdown period. After March 30, if schools are still closed, schools will be required to make some efforts to provide educational opportunities to students in order to receive continued instructional hours flexibility, and more aggressive actions including the cancellation of AZM2 testing, suspension of Move On When Reading, and others are involved. Please take a moment to read the summary, but know that the bill is likely to be further amended before it is passed.

The Legislature is operating at breakneck pace to address these issues. This bill was introduced today, sent directly to the rules committee, and is ready for floor action and final passage as early as tomorrow. ASBA and our partner organizations have been working together to secure needed changes and adjustments and will continue to do so until the last possible moment.

Issues on the list to be addressed include more specificity around staff pay, particularly for hourly staff, specific tweaks to ensure CTEDs are included, specificity around holding schools harmless for letter grades, and other technical adjustments. We are working to provide maximum flexibility for school districts while recognizing that in order to be effective immediately upon the governor’s signature, 2/3 of both House and Senate will have to vote for it, which means the bill must get both Republican and Democrat votes.

ASBA will provide a complete summary of amendments tomorrow. Both the House and the Senate are scheduled to be back on the floor tomorrow at 10a, but that could be delayed depending on the status of negotiations over amendments to the bill. Only time will tell.


 “Skinny” Budget Introduced

Both Houses have introduced their versions of the “skinny” budget, which is the JLBC’s baseline budget plus some alterations. The introduced budget does include the final installment for teacher pay, as well as a further restoration of $68.5M in DAA and $3.4M in CAA. The bills also include a total of $107.5M in building renewal funding for FY21, as well as a $28M supplemental appropriation for the current fiscal year.

As above, both House and Senate have sent their budget bills through the rules committee, and they are ready for floor action and amendment. However, there does not appear to be a broad agreement on the path forward for the budget, or the rest of session for that matter. As the budget picture firms up, we’ll keep you informed as to all the numbers.