Governor Signs Amended Fiscal Year Budget
Gov. Brian Kemp signed the AFY23 budget Monday, March 13. The midterm budget includes multiple education-related items, including several notable ones referenced below. Legislators continue to work on the Fiscal Year 2024 budget, which includes a $2,000 proposed teacher pay raise.
$50 million to phase in an increase of $635 in the employer share of the per member per month cost for non-certified school district staff
$115.7 million for $50,000 safety grants for every public school
$5 million for $3,000 reimbursable grants for paraprofessionals who are enrolled on or after Jan. 1, 2023, in a Georgia Teacher Academy for Preparation and Pedagogy (GaTAPP) program
Safe Schools Act
The Senate approved HB 147 by Rep. Will Wade (R-Dahlonega), sending the bill to Gov. Kemp for his signature. The “Safe Schools Act” is a legislative priority for the governor and is supported by PAGE. 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.
Senate Democrats attempted to amend the bill on the floor, targeting the anti-gang endorsement. All three amendments failed nearly on party lines. The bill passed by a vote of 52-3.
House Education Subcommittees Move Some Bills, Hold Some for Work
The Policy and Curriculum subcommittees of the House Education Committee both met in the afternoon to consider several bills:
SB 32, "Alyssa's Law," by Sen. Jason Anavitarte (R-Dallas), would require school systems to implement a mobile panic alert system that can connect in real-time to local law enforcement. The bill was changed to ensure that multiple vendors are considered to install the systems in schools. The bill passed the subcommittee unanimously.
SB 45, “A.J.’s Law,” by Sen. Anavitarte, would require the creation and implementation of seizure action plans for students with epilepsy. The bill passed the subcommittee unanimously.
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. No vote was taken on the bill as it was scheduled for a hearing only. Buddy Costley, executive director of the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders (GAEL), shared concerns about a provision in the bill and expressed intention to work with the bill author and supporters to clarify the language.
SB 170, by Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell), the “Students and Teachers SPEAK Act,” is sponsored on behalf of several young men advocating for more student voice on the State Board of Education (SBOE) and local school boards. The legislation requires a student be named as an SBOE ex-officio member and requires local boards of education to consider the same. No vote was taken on the bill.
SB 50, by Sen. Max Burns (R-Sylvania), would allow schools to provide instruction in life guarding and aquatic safety for students in grades 9 through 12. The bill does not mandate that schools offer the program. The course would count as a half credit for students who complete the program. The bill passed the subcommittee unanimously.
SR 175, by Sen. Matt Brass (R-Newnan), would establish the Joint Study Committee on Dual Enrollment for Highly Skilled Talent at Younger Ages. Rep. Rick Townsend (R-Brunswick) presented the bill for Brass and said it will work in conjunction with SB 86 to study the effectiveness of the bill. Rep. Meisha Mainor (D-Atlanta) offered an amendment that members of the committee represent all regions of the state, but the amendment failed. The resolution passed the subcommittee unanimously.
Tuesday, March 14 – Legislative Day 33
Joint Children & Families and Education & Youth Committee, 2:30 p.m., 450 CAP
Senate Education & Youth Committee, 3 p.m., 450 CAP
Wednesday, March 15 – Legislative Day 34
Thursday, March 16 – Legislative Day 35