2016 Legislative Session: Takeaways for educators
A number of bills passed by the 2016 Legislature directly affect educators, including a scholarship opportunity for paraprofessionals, an extended tuition-reduction benefit and an added training requirement in the area of suicide awareness and prevention.
• Scholarship program for paraprofessionals (SB 81): A scholarship program is being created for paraprofessionals working in targeted public school districts: those with high Native student populations (at least 50%) and low state test scores (below state average in English language arts and math). The scholarships are designed to help individuals already living and working in these districts to earn their teaching degrees. More information, including an application, will be made available soon. The program is a result of the Native American Student Achievement Advisory Council’s work.
• Extended tuition-reduction benefit (HB 1061): The 50 percent tuition-reduction benefit currently available to educators taking courses at Board of Regents’ institutions has been extended to include distance education courses at these same institutions. Previously, the benefit only applied to face-to-face courses. The extended benefit goes into effect this summer.
• Suicide awareness and prevention training (SB 129): Beginning July 1, 2017, applicants for certification—both initial and renewal—will be required to complete one hour of suicide awareness and prevention training. The requirement applies to teachers, administrators and other education professionals. The Department of Education is in the process of identifying potential criteria and resources for this training. SB 129 charges the Board of Education with creating rules and curating evidence-based resources to fulfill the requirement. Watch for more information on this topic in future newsletters and other communications from the Department of Education.