Committees are looking to wrap up their work for the session by this Friday, April 22. After this week, bills that have passed both chambers will go, as needed, to conference committees to reconcile differences between the versions of the bills passed in both chambers. Most of the education-related bills are still under consideration in committee so this blog post will be a brief update on any new activity last week. We anticipate having much more to report in our next blog post.
S.287 - An act relating to improving student equity by adjusting the school funding formula and providing education quality and funding oversight
Last week, House Education wrapped up their work on the English Learner, and Evaluation and Reporting sections of S.287, and sent their recommendations to House Ways and Means for consideration. House Ways and Means continued their work on S.287. The committee continues to consider cost adjustments in lieu of recalibrated weights. On Tuesday, Sue Ceglowski, Vermont School Boards Association, and Jeff Francis, Vermont Superintendents Association, advocated for adopting recalibrated weights instead of cost adjustments. The Agency of Education and Vermont League of Cities and Towns also testified in support of recalibrated weights. To read more, please link below:
Vermont State Teachers’ Retirement System (Pensions)
Last week, the House Government Operations Committee took testimony on and voted out S.286. (link to bill as passed by Senate; link to bill as recommended by House Government Operations, which amends some sections of the Senate bill). Michelle Baker, Vermont Association of Business Officials (VASBO), and Cindy Koenemann-Warren, auditor, laid out their concerns about implementing the bill. The bill is considered high-priority and will continue through the legislative process while interested and involved parties, including VASBO and Vermont Superintendents Association, work together to resolve implementation concerns.
S.100 - Universal Meals
The universal meals bill spent time in the House Ways and Means Committee who offered up their own amendment to the bill. The amendment did not substantively change the bill, as recommended by the House Education Committee, but rather removed redundancies from the bill to avoid confusion further down the line in the legislative process. Specifically, the amendment removes Section 6, the appropriation for the five positions at the Agency of Education, and Section 7, the universal income form - both sections are also found in S.287 (pupil weighting bill). On Friday, the committee voted to move the bill, as amended by both House Education and House Ways and Means, out of committee.
Last week, House Education completed their work on the English Learner, and Evaluation and Reporting sections of S.287, and sent their recommendations to House Ways and Means for consideration. On Friday, the committee voted S.197 - an act relating to the provision of mental health supports out of committee. The bill immediately went to House Appropriations, and will likely be on the floor this week. The committee will take up S.162 (collective bargaining), S.139 (school branding), and S.283 (miscellaneous education) this week.
The Senate Education Committee took testimony on many of the bills that are currently in their committee - H.517 (military bill), H.703 (CTE sections in the workforce development bill), H.716 (miscellaneous education bill), and H.727 (withdrawal sections in the Chapter 11 rewrite). The committee did not move any bills out last week but will need to this week in order to make the April 22 deadline. Of note, the committee is considering several changes to the miscellaneous education bill, H.716, including the creation and funding of a new Peer Review Support Program, which was based on a proposal by Vermont NEA in response to the educator workforce crisis. The program would be administered by the Agency of Education and would provide grants to expand support, mentoring, and professional development to prospective educators seeking licensure through the Agency of Education’s peer review process. The bill includes a $712,500.00 appropriation from the education fund. The bill also includes a section that would require new school district quality standards regarding holocaust education and education related to other historical global human rights violations; and civics education, including the U.S. Constitution and foundations of U.S. government, political philosophy, social movements and struggles, and community engagement. These district standards would be developed through the rulemaking process. The committee has not yet decided whether to delay the implementation of the special education rules. We will continue to monitor the bill this week.