House to Vote on Special Needs Voucher Expansion Bill
The House Rules Committee moved SB 47, which expands the special needs private school voucher program to students with Section 504 Plans, to the list of bills the full House will vote on Thursday, March 25. PAGE opposes SB 47 for multiple reasons, including the failure to require participating private schools to provide the services outlined in students’ Individualized Education Plans (IEP) or Section 504 Plans. The program also requires students to give up their right to these services, and there is limited information about student outcomes such as retention and graduation rates. More information about the program’s shortcomings is available here. If PAGE members have concerns about SB 47, they should contact their state representatives now.
House Committees Move Education Bills Forward
The House Higher Education Committee passed SB 204, authored by Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta), which aims to create a five-year pilot program in the technical college system designed for high school students who have dropped out or are at risk for dropping out. Participating students would be able to earn their high school diploma while also getting training in a technical field.
In a second bill aimed at responding to the needs of high school students who have dropped out or are struggling, the House Education Committee passed SB 153, sponsored by Sen. Greg Dolezal (R-Cumming). [A PDF of the newest version of the bill is available below.] Presented by Speaker Pro-Tempore Jan Jones (R-Milton), the bill has been revised since it passed the Senate. In the new version, oversight of state alternative charter schools would shift to the Georgia Department of Education from the State Charter Schools Commission. The schools would maintain their current level of funding through the duration of their existing charter contract, and a study committee would be created to develop a new method for funding these schools.
Homeschool Bill Revisited by Senate Committee
The Senate Education Committee approved a new version of HB 681 by Rep. Bill Yearta (R-Sylvester). Originally intended to require financial literacy instruction in grades 10 and 11, the bill now contains the language of SB 51 from Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-White), which allows homeschool students to participate in extracurricular activities in the public school for which they are zoned if they take a class at the school.