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Day 31: FY25 Budget Progresses, Literacy Screener Press Conference, Many Education-Related Bills Heard

House Passes FY2025 Budget with Raises for Certified Teachers and Staff

By a vote of 172 to 1, the House passed HB 916, the FY25 Budget. While the House made some changes to Gov. Brian Kemp's initial budget proposal, the House version continues to include funds for $2,500 raises for certified teachers and staff and increases the employer contribution for the $1,760 per member per month cost for the State Health Benefit Plan (SHBP). The House budget also retains Kemp’s proposal to add $205 million for pupil transportation and $103 million for school safety grants. You can find a full report on the proposed House version of the FY25 Budget in our Day 30 Report HERE.

The FY25 budget now goes to the Senate, which is expected to make further revisions. Generally, both chambers agree to and pass the final version of the budget during the last days of the legislative session.  

Senate Appropriations Education Subcommittee Considers FY25

Several hours before the House passed the FY25 budget, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee met to consider the budget proposal. Education-related agency heads from the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA), the Teachers Retirement System (TRS), the Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL), and the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) each presented. Subcommittee members directed most questions to DECAL and GaDOE. DECAL Commissioner Amy Jacobs described the agency’s work to ramp up available Pre-K seats, and GaDOE Director of Literacy Amy Denty outlined the department’s implementation of state literacy directives. 

Though the subcommittee took no action, it is expected to move quickly in the coming days regarding the FY25 budget.

Senate Committee Approves Bill Doubling Paid Parental Leave for State Employees, Including Educators

The Senate Children & Families Committee approved HB 1010 by House Speaker Pro Temp. Jan Jones (R-Milton). The bill increases paid parental leave offered to state employees, including public school educators, from three weeks to six weeks. Jones characterized the state as one of the largest employers and said the bill is a needed investment to attract and retain public employees at all levels, including those in schools. According to the House Budget Office, there is no budget line item for HB 1010 implementation, as school systems typically do not budget for paid leave. Jones reported there are not a lot of teachers taking leave at any one time, so there would not be an impact on school finances.

Sen. Jason Esteves (D-Atlanta) amended the bill to require employers notify employees upon hire and annually that the benefit is available. Esteves anticipates school districts will use the open enrollment process for this notification.


The bill passed unanimously and moves to the Senate Rules Committee for consideration.

Lawmakers Hold Press Conference on Literacy Screeners

Sen. Billy Hickman (R-Statesboro), Sen. Clint Dixon (R-Gwinnett), and Rep. Bethany Ballard (R-Warner Robbins) along with Georgia Literacy Council Chair, Scott Johnson, held a press conference on SB 464. The bill was amended on Crossover Day to mandate that all schools use a single free statewide universal literacy screener. The press conference began with Rep. Ballard describing her 2023 sponsorship of HB 538 as an effort to improve literacy in Georgia. She stressed that struggling students must be identified earlier, which requires quality screeners.  Sen. Hickman spoke to his amendment and said that having multiple screeners makes it difficult to compare schools. He indicated the screener being developed by GaDOE would not be ready soon enough and said he had concerns about its quality.

Sen. Dixon articulated his belief that the status quo is not acceptable and that GaDOE and school districts should make changes to address issues like literacy and falling school scores. He then reiterated his support for school choice and said parents need to be informed if their students are reading on grade level and receiving needed support.

Watch the full press conference HERE.

Alyssa’s Law Considered & Social Media Protection Act Passes House Education Policy Subcommittee

SB 32, "Alyssa's Law" by Sen. Jason Anavitarte (R-Dallas), would require school districts to implement a mobile panic alert system capable of connecting in real-time to local law enforcement. A Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) representative provided comment, and subcommittee chair Scott Hilton (R-Peachtree Corners) encouraged Anavitarte and GEMA to work together to bring an amended version of SB 32 to the full House Education Committee.

SB 351, "Protecting Georgia's Children on Social Media Act of 2024,” also by Sen. Anavitarte, seeks to require local school boards to create social media policies prohibiting students from accessing social media through school-owned devices or internet services. Students could still access social media if authorized for educational purposes. The State Board of Education (SBOE) is empowered to review these policies and may withhold funding from non-compliant schools and districts. Additionally, existing local board bullying policies must be expanded to address cyberbullying and provide information on resources and services related to addressing bullying. SB 351 requires social media companies to verify user ages, prevent minors from holding social media accounts without parental consent, and provide additional privacy protection for minor account holders.

Anavitarte requested the subcommittee amend his bill on behalf of the attorney general’s office regarding actions premised on the Fair Business Practices Act. The amendment was accepted, and SB 351 will next be considered by the House Education Committee.

House Curriculum Subcommittee Passes Narcan and Student Discipline Tribunal Legislation

SB 395, “Wesley’s Law,” by Sen. Dixon, is named after a family member of Dixon’s who died of a drug overdose. It requires schools to maintain a supply of Naloxone/Narcan. The legislation allows teachers to carry the drug and keep it in the classroom. The bill protects from liability anyone who either uses or chooses not to use naloxone in a school and shields school districts and staff from civil liability. The subcommittee accepted a friendly amendment from committee member Rep. Matt Dubnik (R-Gwinnett) to strike language allowing students to carry Narcan.

SB 169 by Sen. Chuck Payne (R-Dalton), makes several changes to Georgia’s student disciplinary tribunal process, such as providing limits on the extension of hearing dates for student tribunals and requiring that suspended students receive appropriate instructional materials.

Both bills now move to the full House Education Committee for consideration.

ASVAB Bill Passes Senate Veterans, Military, & Homeland Security Committee

A Senate committee passed 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. HB 995 applies to public school students in grades 11 and 12 who choose to participate, though parents may opt their children out of test administration.

HB 995 moves to Senate Rules.


Upcoming Schedule

Friday, March 8 – Legislative Day 32


Monday, March 11 – Legislative Day 33


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