The House and Senate convened in floor sessions for Day 19 but did not consider education-related legislation.
House Budget Writers Hear FY25 Education Budget Proposal
The House Education Appropriations Subcommittee reviewed Gov. Brian Kemp’s spending proposals for Fiscal Year (FY) 2025 for the state’s education agencies, including the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE). Committee members first heard from agency leaders about the proposed FY25 budget during the Joint Appropriations Committee meeting at the start of the legislative session, which is summarized by PAGE here.
Rusk Roam, chief financial officer for GaDOE, noted that the department will request additional funds to cover the unexpectedly high number of students taking the Advanced Placement pre-calculus exam.
Amy Jacobs, commissioner of the Department of Early Care and Learning, outlined key issues related to Georgia’s Pre-K program. She reported the average salary for Pre-K lead teachers is approximately $45,000, lower than the average K-12 teacher salary, and the average salary for assistant pre-kindergarten teachers is about $20,000. According to Jacobs, the retention rate among Pre-K lead teachers is about 80 percent and is 65 percent among assistant teachers.
Committee members will continue examining the education budget and are likely to propose changes before sending it to the full appropriations committee.
House Curriculum Subcommittee Passes Revised Special Needs Voucher Bill & Student Athlete Mental Health Legislation
HB 579 by Rep. Carter Barrett (R-Cumming), which passed subcommittee last week, was given another subcommittee hearing today. A substitute version of the legislation, which addressed some of the concerns expressed by education advocates, was approved. The chair allowed ample time for discussion and public testimony. The newest version of the bill does not mandate expedited IEP’s for students exiting public schools to access the private school voucher, a provision in the former version of HB 579 to which former school leaders objected. The newest version also includes some needed academic accountability by requiring GaDOE to track some participating student data.
HB 1104 by Rep. Omari Crawford (D-Decatur) requires schools to make mental health resources available to student athletes. When presenting the bill, Crawford explained he intends that the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) will collect mental health information via required student forms that are already in use so that student athletes can better access supports.
IEP Interpreter Bill Moves to Full Committee
HB 127 by Rep. Mesha Mainor (R-Atlanta) would require schools to improve IEP interpreter services by adhering to interpreter standards created by the State Board of Education (SBOE). After compelling testimony from several non-native English speakers, some of whom traveled from South Georgia and addressed the subcommittee in Spanish when a translator could not be procured, the bill passed and will now be considered by the full House Education Committee.
House Committee Approves Bill to Cap Insulin Costs for SHBP Members
The House Health Committee passed SB 76 by Sen. Nikki Merritt (D-Grayson), which caps insulin medication costs at $35 per 30-day supply or $105 per 90-day supply for State Health Benefit Plan (SHBP) members, regardless of the amount or type of insulin needed or the number of prescriptions. Rep. Trey Kelly (R-Cedartown) asked if Merritt would consider expanding the bill to include private insurance plans, to which she said she would be amenable, though the change was not made. The bill passed the committee unanimously and now moves to Rules.
Foundation for Public Education Bill Heard in House Ways & Means Subcommittee
HB 1167 by Rep. Rick Townsend (R-Brunswick), which raises the annual cap on tax credits benefiting the Georgia Foundation for Public Education to $20M and which removes the requirement that foundation grants go to districts scoring in the bottom 5 percent on the state’s academic accountability index, was considered in a House Ways and Means subcommittee. The subcommittee is expected to reconsider the legislation again soon.
Tuesday, Feb. 13: Legislative Day 20/Session Midpoint
2:30 p.m. Senate Education & Youth, 450 Cap
Thursday, Feb. 15: Legislative Day 21
2 p.m. House Public Health, 403 Cap