Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Georgia PTA’s weekly update on legislative activity

– Apr. 5, 2009

Year one of the two year session is completed and as usual there was a tremendous amount of legislative activity the last two days, especially the last day, referred to as sine die. The language of some bills was added to others so read the descriptions below to find out what they now contain. Every effort was made to ensure the accuracy of this report but amendments were being added and stripped off bills faster than anyone could record. It will take several days to sort out final versions of some bills. The Governor now has 40 days to sign or veto bills (May 13). Any bill not vetoed goes into effect after 40 days. Any bill that did not pass this session is still alive to be considered again next January.

School Nurse Funding

Great news and a heartfelt thank you to all the schools that sent in Popsicle sticks and to our members who called or emailed their legislators in our campaign to save the school nurse funding. The 2010 budget that passed contained almost full funding for nurses: $29.1 M (only a 3% cut). Congratulations on making your voices heard!

Additional budget news: The budget contained extensive cuts some of which pertaining to education are detailed here:
Note: QBE stands for Quality Basic Education and is the formula used to determine funding for education. When we refer to austerity cuts it means the funds that were taken out of QBE after the amount that education should have earned based on the formula is determined.

• Increase funds for dual enrollment courses: $1,390,960
• Transfer all funds and activities for Graduation Coaches and Classroom Supply Cards to offset the austerity reduction: $49,225,901 (so school districts must decide whether they will use those funds for Graduation Coaches and teacher gift cards or use the funds to meet basic education needs)
• Total austerity cuts to education: approx. $297 M

Voucher Legislation:

If you’ve ever watched a tennis match it would have prepared you for watching voucher legislation this session. HB 251, the public school intra-district only transfer legislation was introduced in the House, passed and sat in the Senate Ed committee. The Senate introduced the universal voucher bill SB 90 where it passed out of committee but not out of Rules due to a lack of votes. Language from SB 90 was amended to HB 251 to allow inter-district transfers. After much back and forth the final version of HB 251 contained only intra-district transfers. School districts must make availability known by July 1 of each year, starting this year. Parents can opt to transfer their children based on availability and must provide their own transportation. Students can continue on to the next school to which that school feeds. No voucher legislation passed this year thanks in part to the all the phone calls and emails from PTA members. Added to this legislation was a provision that forbids relatives of school board members and superintendents from holding positions of administration in a school or in the central office.

Legislation that Passed:

HB 120: 2009 sales tax holiday would be from July 30 to August 2.

HB 123: Adds a definition of ‘child molestation’ to include contact with the victim made electronically including the Internet and telephone.

HB 178: Extends Capital outlay deadline. Relaxes some of the expenditure controls placed on school districts to allow greater flexibility in how funds are spent in the 2009-2010 school year. Added the dual enrollment language from HB 400.

HB 233: (OPPOSED) Two year freeze on any appreciation on the value of a property, even if it changes hands.

HB 280: Provides differentiated pay for math and science teachers effective July 1, 2010.

HB 217: Overrides the Department of Community Health regulation that requires a doctor’s order to receive a flu shot. Flu vaccine can be administered by a pharmacist or nurse upon an order by a doctor for a group of patients. The doctor can also prescribe epinephrine for patients having an allergic reaction to the flu vaccine. Children under 12 must get shot at the doctor’s office; between 13 and 18 must be accompanied by parent if shot is to be given at other than a doctor’s office. Hospitals may offer a flu shot upon discharge to patients age 65 or older and may offer flu shots to their employees. Governor may declare an emergency based on a pandemic flu epidemic. General Assembly must convene within two days of such a declaration of a public health emergency

HB 455: Extends the deadline to May 15, 2009 for school districts to tender certified personnel contracts or to notify certified staff that such contracts will not be tendered (was April 15). Means teachers may have to wait an extra month to know if they have a job next year. Two amendments were added: (1) removes the June 30, 2009 sunset provisions for the Master Teacher Program, and (2) after July 1, 2010, those who attain leadership certificates will be paid on such leadership certificates only if the educator is employed in a leadership position as defined by the State Board of Education.

HB 484: Children of military personnel on active duty stationed in GA can qualify for HOPE.

SB 8: Allows elementary and middle school students to carry and self administer epi-pens. School districts must have a policy on record for this.

SB 69: Any person who allows, permits, encourages or requires that a child engage in prostitution or sexually explicit conduct may be found guilty of sexual exploitation. (Currently only child’s parents of caregiver could be so charged).

SB 94: Removes the requirement that a dependent child up to the age 25 be a full-time student to be insured medically under the parent’s health plan.

SB 114: Provides special provisions for children of military personnel who transfer into GA public schools including waivers to some GA graduation requirements and additional allowable absences.

A comprehensive list of all the bills that passed that affect children and youth can be found on Capitol Watch. As more details about bills becomes availably (including any that are signed or vetoed), reports will be filed. To be prepared for next year’s session sign up to attend the Legislative recap workshop this summer at CLT.

Key: HR- House Resolution, HB– House Bill, SR– Senate Resolution, SB– Senate Bill

Daily Reports with additional details on all the bills being tracked by GA PTA can be found on the Capitol Watch website under News.

Thank you for all your legislative efforts this year!
Karen Hallacy
Legislative Chair


Cerebration said...

In case you're wondering about the School Board ethics and rules legislation, sadly, it was derailed due to simple "horse-trading" politics. Big loss for our state...bigger loss for DeKalb County -


What didn't pass --

SB 84: Requires local school boards to have at most seven members (unless grandfathered) and abide by an ethics policy. The bill gives the Governor the power to remove board members if a school system is placed on probation by an accrediting agency and board members can remove fellow board members by a 2/3 vote. House amends: Board members cannot serve on a board of a private elem. or secondary school at the same time as on a local BOE. Prohibits gifts over $100.

Cerebration said...

Here's an obscure bill I hadn't seen before, nor heard discussed --

HB 103, Powell – 29
Confederate Heritage and History Month shall be April. The shared history and cultural inheritance of this era is encouraged to be shared by all officialdom including boards of education, elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities. The Civil War Commission is encouraged to develop a curriculum for K-12 and colleges and universities.

I've been reading John Adams and watching the mini series - I've come to the conclusion that every high school history student needs to watch this series - so they can appreciate the brilliance and sacrifice our forefathers exhibited to create this country. Let's focus on that - and a little thing called the Constitution. How about Constitution month?

Cerebration said...

Three pieces of legislation passed by the General Assembly are waiting to be signed into law by the Governor -- and they need your support to become law.

"HB 555 would allow local charter schools to utilize unused facilities owned by the local school board without charge."

HB 251 would allow students to transfer to another public school in their assigned public school system.

HB 100 would modify the Tuition Tax Credit Scholarship program to allow for the explicit continuation of scholarships from year to year, make the donation process more efficient, and allow all donors to receive a tax credit of up to 75% of their state income tax liability.

Please contact Governor Sonny Perdue and let him know that you support these bills and meaningful education reform in Georgia. Governor Perdue can be contacted at:

Governor Sonny Perdue
The Office of the Governor
State of Georgia
203 State Capitol
Atlanta, Georgia 30334

Phone: 404-656-1776
Fax: 404-657-7332
or go here to send an email -


Anonymous said...

No Support here for HB 251! Allowing transfers to ANY non-charter public school in the county to take place this August will wreak havoc in school systems that are already over burdened with funding and AYP issues.

For example, City of Atlanta fears a huge number of requests to transfer to Grady HS.

There is no definition of available space. Bad legislation in my opinion and it should NOT be signed into law.

Cerebration said...

Right, Anon. I'm sorry folks - I did a copy & paste on that. I meant to change it to - let Sonny Perdue know how you feel - either way...

All of the education bills were watered down. This one especially. Apparently, schools have to publish available space by July 1.

Say - what ever happened to our Regional Plan? You know - the one where you could transfer within your own region - no questions.

Here's the link to the bill -

Cerebration said...

House Bill 251, House Bill 149 and House Bill 555, have been signed into law.

House Bill 251, sponsored by Representative Alisha Morgan, allows parents of public school students to enroll their children in another public school within their assigned school system, starting in the 2009-10 school year. The law will increase the number of public school choices available to help parents find a school that best fits their child's unique educational needs.

House Bill 149, dubbed the "Move on When Ready Act" and sponsored by Representative Jan Jones, allows high school students to take college courses for credit towards a high school diploma. The law will provide college-bound students with more options to get a head-start on higher education.

House Bill 555, sponsored by Representative David Casas, allows local charter schools to utilize unused facilities owned by the local school board without charge. The law will help to ensure that charter school students get to learn in better facilities.

Cerebration said...

HB 251 - includes this text

(d) The local school system shall notify parents by July 1 of each year which schools have available space and to which of these schools parents may choose to request a transfer for their children.
(e) This Code section shall not apply to charter schools.
(f) This Code section shall not apply to newly opened schools with available classroom space for a period of four years after the school opens."


So it won't apply to Chamblee, Arabia and maybe Tucker (if they win charter status as is rumored they are trying to do). Importantly - how exactly will they define "available space" -- will that mean - is there room for more trailers? hmmm. Seems a little too much has been left to interpretation.

Cerebration said...

Here's a link to today's article about the new transfer law.

Parents have power to pick their kids’ schools

A new Georgia law will give more parents the power to pick their children’s schools.

A controversial bill signed recently by Gov. Sonny Perdue gives parents the ability to cross neighborhood boundaries and select almost any campus in their district — the closest ones, the ones with the best SAT scores, sports teams, etc. As long as there is room to teach the new students.
Also - attend this event if you are able --

What: Closing the Achievement Gap Education Summit
When: Monday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: State Capitol building, 206 Washington St. S.W., Room 403
Info: The summit, hosted by Rep. Alisha Morgan and other state legislators, will bring together officials with the Georgia NAACP, the Georgia Association of Educators, the University of Georgia and others to discuss improving public education. It will feature panel discussions and a rally. It is free open to the public.