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Day 21: Third Hearing on Senate Divisive Concepts Bill; AFY 2022 Budget Passes Committee

Senate Lawmakers Hear Public Feedback on Divisive Concepts Bill

The Senate Education Committee heard public comment on SB 377, one of four bills under consideration in the Georgia legislature seeking to prohibit the use of "divisive concepts" in school settings. Sen. Bo Hatchett (R-Cornelia), the bill’s sponsor, explained that he intends to revise SB 377 to incorporate feedback and will provide a new version at a later committee meeting. More information on SB 377 is available from PAGE here.

Josh Stephens, PAGE legislative services specialist, spoke in opposition to the current version of SB 377. Affirming PAGE’s support for transparency on curriculum and meaningful parent input, Stephens stated:

“Before we pass legislation which could lead to the loss of 10 percent of a school district’s funding, a financial penalty which could harm students and classroom teachers, we need a better idea of current practices in actual Georgia classrooms. Are there indicators that districts are not following OCGA 20-2-1017, which requires districts to create a process for public review and comment on instructional materials? Are parents aware of the these requirements, and are they providing feedback to their schools? If so, is that feedback being acted upon by schools?

Second, does this proposed legislation give educators the information they need to confidently serve students and their families? Do the prohibited teachings conflict with the items specifically allowed to be taught? Parents, students, and educators should be brought together to discuss what is and what is not working with current local district curriculum transparency practices before putting a policy in state law.”

Most speakers at today's hearing expressed opposition to SB 377. The committee is expected to consider and vote on a substitute version of the bill, which may occur at the committee’s next meeting, Wednesday, March 2.

Senate Budget Writers Advance AFY 2022 Budget

The Senate Appropriations Committee endorsed Gov. Brian Kemp’s plan to add a one-time salary supplement of $2,000 for educators to the state’s current spending plan, which is outlined in the proposed Amended Fiscal Year 2022 (AFY22) budget. Committee members also aim to boost the supplement for school nurses to $2,000, up from the $1,000 initially recommended. The committee seeks several other changes to funding for education programs in the AFY22 budget, including:

  • Reduction of $2.5 million in funding intended to incentivize school districts to purchase alternative fuel buses

  • Reduction of $2.4 million to administer Georgia Milestones in accordance with federal requirements

  • Reduction of $3 million for unappropriated testing requirements

  • Reduction of $7.2 million for dual enrollment, based on enrollment projections

  • Reduction of $598,193 for the Dual Achievement Program pilot, which is offered through the technical college system

The AFY22 budget, which is contained in HB 910, now goes to the Senate Rules Committee, which will likely move it quickly to the full Senate for a vote.

Upcoming Schedule

Tuesday, March 1: Legislative Day 22

Wednesday, March 2: Committee Work Day

  • Senate Education & Youth Committee, 2 p.m., 307 CLOB

  • Senate Retirement Committee, 2 p.m., 310 CLOB

Thursday, March 3: Legislative Day 23

  • House Education Committee, 1 p.m., 606 CLOB

Friday, March 4: Legislative Day 24


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