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Day 16: AFY 24 Budget Progresses, House Ed Subcommittees Consider Vouchers, Student Teacher Compensation, ASVAB Administration, & Drivers Ed Bills

House Passes AFY 24 Budget

With only two dissenting votes, the House passed the Amended Fiscal Year 2024 budget, which incorporates House revisions to Gov. Brian Kemp’s budget proposal. More information on Kemp’s proposal for AFY 2024 is available from PAGE here. Most of the changes made by the House reflect updated information such as changes to Georgia’s school funding formula funding based on recent full-time enrollment (FTE) counts. The House also added:

  • $1,579,000 for Communities in Schools to leverage additional federal and philanthropic funding to expand the organization’s work

  • $980,924 to cover the cost of AP STEM exams due to increased participation

House Appropriations Chairman Matt Hatchett (R-Dublin) presents the AFY 2024 budget to the House

The budget was immediately transmitted to the Senate where it will undergo review and further changes.

House Curriculum Subcommittee Passes ASVAB Administration Bill & Holds Drivers Ed Legislation

The House Education Subcommittee on Curriculum reviewed two pieces of legislation at its meeting:

HB 995, sponsored by Rep. Josh Bonner (R-Fayetteville) at the request of the U.S. Department of Defense.  The bill requires the administration of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), a nationally recognized multiple-aptitude battery assessment intended to measure and predict academic and occupational success in the military, to public school students in grades 11 and 12 who choose to participate. Parents and guardians are allowed to opt their children out of test administration. HB 995 passed and will now be considered by the full House Education Committee.

HB 914, the Safe Teens Act, sponsored by Rep. Imani Barnes (D-Tucker), allows local school districts to offer elective driver education training courses approved by the Georgia Department of Driver Services. Such a course would provide one-half unit of elective credit for high school students. When a driver education training course is offered, the cost of the course will be paid by one or more of the following: local funds; student fees (subject to economic hardship waiver); or, state funds subject to General Assembly appropriation. Committee discussion revolved around bill implementation costs.  House Appropriations Education Subcommittee Chair Matt Dubnik (R-Gainesville), who also sits on the Curriculum Policy Subcommittee, requested a fiscal note, which Barnes agreed to deliver. The subcommittee held HB 914 for further review. 

House Policy Subcommittee Holds Paid Student Teacher Bill & Passes Special Needs Voucher Bill

The House Education Policy Subcommittee met to consider several bills:

HB 148, the Student Teacher Promotion Act, by Rep. Carolyn Hugley (D-Columbus) seeks to create need-based financial stipends for Georgia student teachers. The bill would create a grant program for the provision of the stipends. Although the version of the legislation discussed in subcommittee would direct funding through local school districts, Hugley expressed interest in amending her bill to allow colleges of education in which student teachers are enrolled to distribute the grant funding, which would be capped at $7,500 per student teacher. Several student teachers testified in support of the legislation, as did Josh Stephens from PAGE, who cited PAGE educator survey data indicating growing levels of student loan debt. During subcommittee discussion, member Becky Evans (D-Atlanta) referenced IGNITE, a promising DeKalb County student teacher residency program, that provides a $30,000 living stipend during the training year. HB 148 was scheduled for “discussion only,” and the subcommittee did not vote on the bill.

PAGE Legislative Services Specialist Josh Stephens speaks in support of HB 148

HB 579 sponsored by Rep. Carter Barrett (R-Cumming) revises the prior school year requirement for purposes of the special needs private school voucher program, allowing students who have qualified for the program once and left to more easily return. The bill would also expedite the IEP process for those students who do not have an IEP but believe they qualify and would like to receive a special needs voucher. Barrett presented the bill with assistance from Michael O’Sullivan from GeorgiaCAN, a pro-private school voucher advocacy group. Subcommittee members asked many questions, though not all were answered. The subcommittee passed the bill before hearing testimony from multiple public education advocates who requested to speak, though they were able to do so after the vote. The committee chairman indicated speaker comments would be communicated to the full Education Committee, which will next consider the legislation. Public comment is prohibited at full Education Committee hearings. Review footage of the HB 579 hearing HERE, starting at the 1:22 mark.

Upcoming Schedule

Thursday, Feb. 8: Legislative Day 17

  • 1 p.m. - Senate Retirement, 310 CLOB

  • 1 p.m. - House Education, 506 CLOB

  • 2 p.m. - Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education & Higher Education, 307 CLOB

Friday, Feb. 9: Legislative Day 18

  • 8 a.m. - Senate Education & Youth Committee, 450 CAP

  • 1 p.m.  - Senate Joint Education & Higher Education Committees, 450 CAP

Monday, Feb. 12, Legislative Day 19

  • 1 p.m. - House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, 415 CLOB


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