The 2021 legislative session has now concluded. Below is an update on notable education-related legislation that made it to the Governor’s desk and await his signature.
- HB 32: Establishes a teacher recruitment and retention program with a $3000 tax credit for teachers who agree to teach in certain rural or low-performing schools.
- HB 146: Provides paid parental leave for state employees, including public school teachers.
- HB 287: Directs the State Board of Education to include instruction related to vaping and vape products, as well as a course of study in human trafficking awareness as part of the health and physical education course standards.
- SB 42: Ensures school discipline data is more accessible to parents and is presented in a format that non-educators can understand. The legislation also includes a bill called the Dexter Mosley Act, authorizing homeschooled students to participate in athletic and extracurricular activities at their local public school.
- SB 47: Expands the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Act to allow all students with a disability and section 504 plan to participate. The bill also makes numerous improvements in the overall program.
- SB 59: Charter school legislation which would increase state funding for charter schools, giving them opportunities to opt in/out of the State Health Benefits Plan and ensuring that charter schools get their fair allocation of federal funding.
- SB 66:Merges the Georgia Foundation for Public Education with the Public Education Innovation Fund Foundation for the purpose of streamlining the two similar programs which provide grants to public schools.
- SB 88: Governor Kemp’s teacher pipeline bill. The legislation makes it easier for veterans to become certified to teach, makes the Georgia Teacher of the Year an ex-officio member of the State School Board, ensures less experienced teachers get more opportunities for evaluation and mentorship, directs teacher education programs to focus training on the elements of the fundamentals of reading and directs the creation of programs to increase enrollment and completion of teacher education programs offered at historically black colleges and universities.
- SB 153: Transitions system-collaborative state charter schools (a sort of alternative charter school run by school districts that focuses on dropout prevention, high school credit recovery and service of adult and incarcerated students) from the state charter school commission to the state board of education and requires the legislature to review its funding model to ensure sustainability and allow for future growth in other parts of the state.
- SB 159: Gives school districts the opportunity to provide transportation services in vehicles with a capacity of eight or fewer.
- SB 220: Directs the development and implementation of a program of study in personal financial literacy in high school.
- SB 246: The Learning Pod Protection Act ensures that learning pods, a parent response to Covid school closures, are not subjected to regulations which would stifle their usage.
Additionally, some highlights from the FY 2022 state budget include:
- $567 restoration of QBE formula funding. The FY 2021 budget included a reduction of $950 million to QBE due to a decline in state revenues as a result of the pandemic.
- $1 million increase in charter facility grants.
- $344,000 more for grants supporting expanding computer science access to all middle and high schools.
- $1.6 million for dyslexia screenings and support to dyslexia pilot districts.
- $5 million increase in funds for school nutrition.
- $2 million in bond funding to incentivize the purchase of alternative fuel school busses.
- $950,000 to fully restore and increase feminine hygiene grants.
- $3.5 million increase in funds for additional slots in DECAL’s CAPS program.
- $100,000 increase for the Growing Readers program.
Not related to legislative activity but an equally important policy was recently impleme2021 Georgia Legislative Updatented with Governor Kemp’s announcement of $10 million dollars in funding for a program to provide families with children with special needs reimbursement of educationally-related out-of-pocket expenses incurred because of Covid-19.