The 2012 legislative session is in its fourth week, and the bills have begun to move. Below is a look at some of this year’s education-related bills. To access all bills and their status, visit the Legislative Research Council’s website and click on “Current Legislative Session.”
SB 25 – If passed, this bill would allow South Dakota to move ahead with developing new administrative rules related to accountability. The rules would reflect the contents of the department's proposed new Accountability Model and ESEA waiver application. The bill was introduced in Senate Education, where the committee voted to send it to Appropriations. The Appropriations Committee then added an amendment that requires the department to develop and implement a financial rating system for public school districts by 2014-15. The amended bill passed Appropriations on an 8 to 0 vote.
SB 44 and SB 130 – These are two variations on a bill that would require districts to have a bullying policy in place. SB 44 was heard earlier this week, and no action was taken. SB 130 will come up next week. FYI: A December 2011 survey of districts indicates that 90 percent have a bullying policy in place.
SB 144 – This bill would have required all students in 11th grade to take either the ACT or ACT's WorkKeys assessment. The bill died in committee earlier this week.
HB 1006 and 1007 – These two bills represent the Department of Education’s clean-up bills under the governor’s regulatory reform initiative. Both passed through House Education and the House floor easily. One of the things eliminated is the requirement for districts to submit a report on long-term substitutes.
HB 1124 – A bill that would allow districts to pay for background checks of employees has made it through the House. The language is permissive. In committee, the vote was 14 to 0 in favor. On the floor, the vote was 64 to 1 in favor.
HB 1195 – This bill gives schools the authority to collect fees for certain educational programming and services, and specifically mentions early childhood services. The House Education Committee agreed to two amendments to the bill: 1) the first makes it clear that there can be no charge for extracurricular activities, and 2) the second puts an emergency clause on, so that the bill can be in effect immediately upon being signed by the governor. The bill made it through committee and passed the House by a vote of 55 to 12.
HB 1234 – This is the governor’s bill related to bonuses for top teachers and math and science teachers. His proposal would also phase out continuing contract status. Those who already have continuing contract would keep it. The bill has been assigned to the House Education Committee. The bill has not been scheduled for a hearing yet but should come up next week.
HB 1145 – This bill would eliminate continuing contract status completely. The bill was heard in House Education, but no action was taken on the bill.
HB 1189 – This bill would set up two deadlines during the school year, after which no students would be allowed to transfer through the open enrollment program.
A handful of funding bills have been introduced as well, and those should start being heard soon. Some have been assigned to the Education Committees; others directly to the Appropriations Committee.