House Ed Does Not Take up Vouchers, Passes Pupil Transport Legislation, Considers Charter School Bill
The House Education Committee cancelled its morning meeting and rescheduled later in the day. SB 47, legislation expanding Georgia’s special needs private school voucher program, was ultimately not discussed. The committee passed SB 159 by Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega), which would allow school districts to transport students in vehicles that are not school buses. The bill was amended to eliminate an exclusion for rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft.
SB 59 by Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) provides supplemental funding to local charter schools and allows educators employed by charters to participate in the State Health Benefit Plan (SHBP). The legislation, which also requires local boards of education to make educational facilities available to local charters or provide them a facility stipend, was discussed in the committee but held until a subsequent meeting, expected Thursday, March 18.
Senate Committee Advances Bill Granting Paid Parental Leave for Educators
The Senate Insurance and Labor Committee passed HB 146 by Rep. Houston Gaines (R-Athens). The bill grants up to 120 hours of paid parental leave for the birth of a child to full-time educators and state employees if they have been employed by a school district or state agency for six months. The bill proceeds to the Rules Committee for consideration by the full Senate.
Bill Expanding Accrediting Agencies Heard in Committee
The Senate Higher Education Committee heard HB 606, sponsored by Rep. Randy Nix (R-LaGrange). The bill would add the Georgia Independent Schools Association to the list of state-approved accrediting agencies. The committee did not take action on the bill.
Extension for Timeline to Use New Federal Pandemic Relief Funds
School districts will have until September 2024 to use the funds allocated to them under the federal American Pandemic Rescue Act. While the bill states the deadline to use the funds is September 2023, the U.S. Department of Education allows a one-year extension. More information about the act is available here.