Thank You to All Who Attended PAGE Day on Capitol Hill 2023
2023 PAGE Day on Capitol Hill, in conjunction with the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders and the Georgia Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, brought Georgia educators to the Gold Dome to connect with policymakers and advocate for educators and students. Attendees heard from State School Superintendent Richard Woods, House Education Chair Chris Erwin (R-Homer), Sen. Education & Youth Committee member Sonya Halpern (D-Atlanta), and more.
Sen. Rules Chair Matt Brass (R-Newnan) and Rep. Lynn Smith (R-Newnan) sponsored SR 151 & HR 163 honoring Georgia’s longest-serving educator, Barbara Landreth, from Coweta County, who recently retired after 59 years of service.
We are grateful that so many educators and future educators joined us, and encourage you to save the date for the next PAGE Day on Capitol Hill: Feb. 20, 2024.
Senate Ed & Youth
The Senate Education & Youth Committee met to consider the following legislation:
SB 170 is sponsored by Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) on behalf of several young men advocating for more student voice on the State Board of Education and local school boards. The legislation requires a student be named as an ex-officio member of the State Board of Education and requires local boards of education to consider the same. The bill moved forward unanimously to Senate Rules.
SB 169, by Sen. Chuck Payne (R-Dalton), makes several changes to Georgia’s student disciplinary tribunal process, providing limits on the extension of hearing dates for student tribunals and requiring that suspended students receive appropriate instructional materials. The bill passed unanimously and moved to Rules.
SB 96, by Sen. Jason Anivitarte (R-Dallas), would require the Georgia Professional Standards Commission to consider out-of-state nationally accredited teacher preparation programs, including for-profit programs. The bill passed with two dissenting votes and now moves to Rules.
SB 18 by Sen. Donzella James (D-Atlanta) would allow students who elect to enroll in a school which is not in their home attendance zone to continue in that school, as long as the students live in the school district. The legislation also makes the same allowance for siblings of students who opt to enroll in schools within their resident district outside the students’ attendance zone. The committee declined to vote on the legislation after questions arose about school capacity and pupil transportation.
Senate Budget Writers Revise Components of AFY 2023 Budget Proposal
The Senate Appropriations Committee restored $25 million for literacy grants to school districts in its version of the Amended Fiscal Year (AFY) 2023 budget. The grant funds were initially proposed by Gov. Brian Kemp, but House budget writers redirected the funds to other spending areas in their iteration of the AFY 2023 budget. Committee members agreed to the House proposal to phase in the $7,620 increase to the annual cost of the employer contribution to the State Health Benefit Plan for non-certified staff. Senate appropriators would provide $34 million to the SHBP to facilitate the phase in of the increase, lower than the $100 million proposed by the House. Other changes the appropriations committee made include:
$115.7 million for $50,000 safety grants for every school, a reduction from the $60,000 proposed by the House.
$2.5 million for character education, double the amount proposed by the House. Districts would be required to provide matching funds to receive a grant.
$8 million for early reading instruction in the pre-kindergarten program.
The bill now goes to the Rules Committee, which will send it to the full Senate for a vote.
Bill on Diabetes Medication for Schools Moves Forward
The House Health Committee approved HB 440 from Rep. Doug Stoner (D-Smyrna), which would allow schools to keep a supply of glucagon on hand in case a diabetic student needs it. Stoner likened the bill to a similar one the legislature passed several years ago, which allows districts to keep EpiPens on site for students who experience a severe allergic reaction. PAGE Senior Education Policy Analyst Claire Suggs testified in support of HB 440. The bill passed the committee and moves to the Rules Committee.
House Subcommittee Advances Student Technology Protection Act and Bill Moving the Charter School Oversight Department
The House Education Curriculum Subcommittee approved two bills Tuesday.
HB 318 by Rep. Scott Hilton (R-Peachtree Corners), a bill Hilton characterized as a charter school “clean up” bill, would rename the Charter Advisory Committee, the office responsible for supporting charter schools, the Office of District Flexibility and move the office to the State Charter Schools Commission (SCSC). The administrative staff would report to the State Board of Education in the current version of the bill. Angela Palm, a representative of the Georgia School Boards Association (GSBA), expressed concern with this proposed reporting structure. Tiffany Taylor, deputy superintendent of Policy, Flexibility, and External Affairs with GaDOE, suggested the staff of the Office of Charter School Compliance report directly to the State Charter Schools Commission rather than the SBOE. Bonnie Holliday, Chief Strategy Officer at the Georgia Charter Schools Association and former Executive Director of the SCSC, assisted Hilton in presenting the bill.
HB 338 by Chris Erwin, the Student Technology Protection Act, updates definitions of child pornography, content harmful to minors, obscene materials, and technology protection measures. The bill requires local districts to update internet acceptable use policies, including setting appropriate measures for violation of the policies as well as creation of parent complaint processes for alleged violation of the policies. GaDOE will compile a list of vendors for internet filters in coordination with the Department of Administrative Services to assist districts with selecting the appropriate filters. Erwin said filters that need to be in place for younger students would differ from the filters needed for older students, based on standards for each grade level. HB 338 incorporates the promotion of safe and appropriate use of technology and responsible digital citizenship into student character education programs. Erwin reported school districts should not incur additional costs for the filters.
The bill was amended by the subcommittee to remove lines 193-198 which would have created a pilot program to study whether the use of advanced technologies capable of reliably monitoring and detecting children at potential risk of harming themselves or others based on their internet use patterns is effective at reducing rates of youth suicide and violence. A version of the bill, HB 1217, passed the House in 2022, but the Senate did not vote on it.
House Motor Vehicles Committee Considers Two Education-Related Bills*
The House Motor Vehicles committee heard HB 348 by Rep. J. Collins (R-Villa Rica), which aims to change how the speed limit is enforced in school zones. Committee members expressed concern that school systems would be removed from the the decision and permit application process to place speed cameras, and held the bill.
Learn more about how HB 348 would change existing law in the PAGE Day 18 Report.
The committee approved HB 301, from Rep. Jason Ridley (R-Chatsworth), which aims to change penalties for traffic violations related to school buses and school zones. The bill would prohibit the addition of extra fees to the $250 penalty for passing a school bus. It would also reduce the fee for speeding in a school zone to $50 the first time, down from $75, and $100 the second time, reduced from $125. According to Ridley’s description, HB 301 would also limit fees charged by the companies that operate traffic cameras in speed zones to $2.
HB 301 now moves to House Rules for consideration.
*This report has been updated to correct an error re: HB 348 originally published on Feb. 21.
Wednesday Feb. 22, 2023 – Legislative Day 22
Education Policy Subcommittee of House Education, 4 p.m., 406 CLOB
Thursday Feb. 23 – Legislative Day 23
Senate Retirement, 2 p.m., Mezz 1 CAP