Below are some of the more significant education bills that passed both chambers and are currently awaiting action by Governor Kemp.

HB 59 – authorizes military personnel to enroll their children in public school upon receiving relocation orders rather than waiting to physically reside in the district. This is especially important in situations in which schools have an enrollment deadline, such as magnet or charter schools.

HB 68 – prevents a potential conflict of interest by prohibiting school accrediting organizations from also operating as a tuition tax-credit student scholarship organization.

HB 83 – requires all schools have scheduled daily recess for students in grades K-5.

SB 15 – the “Keeping Georgia’s Schools Safe Act” which contain many of the recommendations of the Senate Study Committee on School Safety. The legislation would require regular threat assessments, school safety plan updates and drills, require schools identify a safety coordinator, and clarify how state, local and school agencies should coordinate.

SB 48 – puts in place a process to screen, identify and support students with dyslexia. The legislation will also require DOE to oversee a three-year pilot program to identify appropriate evidence-based practices for students with dyslexia, coordinate with the Professional Standards commission to help better prepare teachers and create a dyslexia handbook to provide guidance, assistance and training to districts and teachers. A GeorgiaCAN legislative priority

SB 83 – authorizes public schools to offer elective courses covering the Old and New Testaments of the Bible to high school students. The legislation was also amended to add another bill (HB 562) to codify the popular REACH Scholarship program which provides needs-based mentorship and college scholarships for low-income students.

SB 108 – phases in a requirement that all middle and high schools must offer courses in computer science. The legislation also authorizes grants for professional development programs for computer science teachers. A GeorgiaCAN legislative priority

The most action in education occurred in the budget. With an economy that continues to grow comes another year of growth in projected state revenue and, once again, education was the primary beneficiary. This upcoming years FY 2020 state budget will top $27.5 billion – an increase of $1.05 billion, or 3.95%, over the FY 2019 budget. Of the funds appropriated in the FY 2020 budget, 55% is dedicated for education; 22% for health and human services; 8% for public safety; 8% for transportation and economic development; and 7% for general government agencies.

In the FY 2020 budget state education spending will surpass $15 billion. Of that, k-12 education represents $10.6 billion, an increase of $670 million and a two-year increase of $1.2 billion.

Among the spending highlights include:

  • $3,000 pay raise for k-12 teachers and other certified employees (~$530 million)
  • 2% pay raise for bus drivers, school nurses, lunchroom workers, pre-k teachers and DOE
    employees
  • $70 million to fund school security grants amounting to $30,000 for every public school
    in the state
  • $2 million increase in charter school facility grants (A GeorgiaCAN legislative priority)
  • $750,000 for professional development for computer science teachers
  • $100,000 to fund a pilot program to demonstrate and evaluate programs for students with dyslexia
  • $500,000 increase in funding for the Childcare and Parent Services (CAPS) program to
    provide assistance to low-income families for the cost of childcare

Michael is the Executive Director of GeorgiaCAN.

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