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Day 29: Crossover Day, Part 2 – Literacy & Planning Period Bills Pass House; School Safety Advances

House and Senate Pass Several More Education Bills Prior to Crossover Day Deadline

In our Day 28 Crossover Day, Part 1 Report, PAGE reported on education bills that passed the House and Senate before 8 p.m. on Monday, March 6, before the Crossover Day deadline. The House met until almost midnight; the Senate adjourned around 11 p.m. The following bills were approved after 8 p.m. and now move to the other chamber for consideration:


House

  • HB 340, by Rep. John Corbett (R-Lake Park), is PAGE-supported legislation that provides for daily planning periods for K-12 teachers. Teachers entitled to planning periods could be required to supervise students during planning no more than once a week, except when necessary to ensure the safety of students and staff.

  • HB 538, by Rep. Bethany Ballard (R-Warner Robins), is the Georgia Early Literacy Act. Ballard’s stated goal is to help more Georgia students read on grade level by the end of third grade. To reach that goal, the legislation would employ multiple strategies including use of universal screeners in K-3 classrooms, more training for early elementary teachers on the science of reading and structured literacy, and student reading intervention plans. Check out the PAGE Day 25 Capitol Report for more specifics on the bill.

Senate

  • SB 4, by Sen. Gail Davenport (D-Jonesboro), the “Blind Person’s Braille Literacy Rights and Education Act,” would require evaluations of blind or visually impaired students to determine their need for Braille instruction. It also requires Braille instruction in the individualized education program of a blind or visually impaired student, if necessary.

  • SB 240, by Sen. Larry Walker (R-Perry), requires the Employee Retirement System (ERS) -- the agency responsible for managing the Public Schools Employee Retirement System (PSERS) -- with surveying school districts to determine which offer Social Security benefits to PSERS members. The survey must be complete by Sept. 1, 2023. Once the survey is complete, districts that do not offer Social Security benefits to PSERS members must do so by Jan. 1, 2024.


Senate Committee Signs Off on Safe Schools Act

The Senate Education & Youth Committee gave a unanimous “do pass” to HB 147, the Safe Schools Act, from Rep. Will Wade (R-Dawsonville). HB 402, from Rep. Scott Hilton (R-Peachtree Corners), which aims to improve water safety, also got a unanimous nod of approval from committee members.


HB 147 is one of Gov. Brian Kemp’s legislative priorities. It requires schools to conduct an intruder alert drill by Oct. 1 each year and report results of the drill to the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA). The bill also directs the Professional Standards Commission, GEMA, the Department of Juvenile Justice, and the Georgia Public Safety Training Center to create a school safety and anti-gang endorsement for certified personnel.


HB 402 requires schools to provide information on the importance of water safety courses and swim lessons to reduce drownings as well as a listing of locally-available courses and swim lessons at the beginning of each school year. School districts are not required to provide water safety courses or swim lessons.


Both bills now move to the Rules Committee.


Upcoming Schedule


Wednesday, March 8 – Legislative Day 30

  • House Appropriations, 7 a.m., 341 CAP

Thursday, March 9 – Legislative Day 31

  • Senate Education and Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee, 7 a.m., 307 CLOB

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