Here is our Advocate for Schools newsletter which includes a weekly update on education legislation and policy. The Alabama Legislature will not be meeting next week. The session will resume on Tuesday, February 23.
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Here is our Advocate for Schools newsletter which includes a weekly update on education legislation and policy. Click here for newsletter.
|Advocate for Schools||Read More|
Calling all Alabama public school students in grades 4-12. Enter the 2021 statewide “Road to Success” video contest. Up to four schools will share prize money totaling $3,250.
$3,250 in Prizes up for Grabs!
The Alabama Association of School Boards is accepting entries from public school students (grades 4-12) for its 10th annual statewide student video contest.
This year's contest theme, "Road to Success," applauds excellence in teaching, student creativity and how Alabama's public schools are preparing students for many different pathways to success, from career technical education to STEM to advanced academics, performing arts and more!
A maximum of two entries will be accepted from each Alabama school system.
Four lucky schools will share in more than $3,000 in prize money for their 30- to 60-second commercials/public service announcements. The top four videos will be shown December 4, 2021, during AASB's Annual Convention at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham-The Wynfrey Hotel and at a future Alabama State Board of Education meeting in Montgomery.
Watch the Contest Promotional Video
The contest opens for entries on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2021. All video submissions and required paperwork must be emailed to the Alabama Association of School Boards by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, April 23 2021. See complete entry details below.
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Alabama’s teachers can expect widespread access to COVID-19 vaccines by early March, State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey told the State Board of Education
at its work session Thursday.
While the first phase of vaccinations includes frontline health care workers and long-term care residents, the second phase will prioritize the availability
of vaccines for teachers and other school employees after individuals ages 75 and older and essential workers (firefighters and police).
Some school systems already have begun vaccinating teachers, including Marion and Tallapoosa Counties which have provided vaccines for every teacher. Mackey
said he hopes teachers in all school systems will take advantage of the vaccine as part of the state’s effort to keep school personnel safe and reduce
risk of infection. In some school systems, less than 50 percent of teachers have expressed interest in being vaccinated, a figure reflected by other
groups eligible for the vaccine. Alabama currently lags the rest of the nation in percentage of citizens vaccinated to date. View Montgomery Advertiser
article: State Superintendent Eric Mackey hopeful teachers can receive vaccine in late February.
More COVID-19 related funding is headed to schools as part of a second CARES Act passed by Congress last month. Of Alabama's $899 million Elementary and
Secondary School Education Relief Fund (ESSER) award, $810 million will flow directly to local schools, roughly four times the amount schools received
in the first CARES Act. The ALSDE may retain up to 10 percent, or $89 million, to fund state priorities.
Mackey said those priorities are being discussed and may include literacy supports, additional funding for teacher LETRS training and professional development
for early math. The use of funds is expanded from the first CARES Act package and may include addressing learning loss and COVID-related facility repairs
and improvements, including improvements for indoor air quality. Mackey notes local systems may not use the federal funds for teacher bonuses; however,
the funds may be used to pay salaries for extending teacher contract days. The CARES 2 package also included $67 million in the Governors Emergency
Education Relief (GEER) fund. This time, $21.5 million is provided for public schools, with $45.5 million allowable to non-public schools.
Also related to school funding, a Teacher Stabilization Proposal is being developed by the ALSDE to address student enrollment losses. Mackey said he is
working with legislators on a formula that would hold school systems harmless for the drop in Average Daily Membership (ADM) and its impact on state
funding. View PowerPoint.
The ALSDE is preparing to submit amendments to its ESSA plan. Originally submitted in 2017, the initial ESSA plan is being re-examined by staff to better address current needs. For example, because
state assessments were not administered in 2020, the state may change how it identifies schools needing support. Amendments to the plan address the
Alabama Comprehensive Assessment Program (ACAP), the new state assessment program; changes to the Career and College Ready guidelines; a waiver to
address the pandemic’s impact; an update on measuring teacher effectiveness; and changes to align the federal plan to the state plan. The presidential
transition makes the process seeking amendments challenging. The ALSDE is working with U.S. Department of Education staff from the outgoing administration
as well as president-elect Joe Biden’s transition team. State board approval is not required to submit the amendment; however, the board discussed
voting on a resolution to demonstrate its support.
At its next meeting, the board will vote to make completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) a graduation requirement. Several board
members expressed concern that the requirement is invasive for families who do not want to share financial information; however, Gov. Kay Ivey voiced
support for the requirement which provides an opt-out for students. Louisiana, Texas and Illinois recently adopted FASFA completion as a graduation
requirement. While those states enacted legislation implementing this graduation requirement, Ivey emphasized the state board is the constitutional
entity empowered to adopt graduation requirements for Alabama’s students. According to the ALSDE, the goal is to allow students, many of whom may otherwise
think college is unaffordable, to receive the means to pursue higher education. Mackey said millions of federal dollars are left on the table because
students are not aware of their eligibility for aid. The FASFA has long been known as a difficult process for students and families to complete; however,
Congress revised the form in the latest CARES Act, trimming it from 108 questions to 36. The effort was completed to simplify the forms and incentivize
students and parents to complete the process. Individuals are able to upload tax information directly to the FASFA application. When board members
mentioned concerns about data privacy, ALSDE staff said the department and schools have no access to the private financial information.
The board voted to approve the textbooks recommended for adoption by the state’s mathematics textbook committee, with board members Stephanie Bell and
Jackie Ziegler voting no and Wayne Reynolds abstaining. The recommendation process was delayed last month due to robust discussion and concerns expressed
by board members, who called for a more thorough vetting and insisted the list, from which local school boards select textbooks, should only include
high-quality material. The discussion resulted in textbook committee members going back to apply a new rubric to evaluate the textbooks. The additional
information will be provided to local school boards. Board members asked the ALSDE to seek legislation to change the law that has restricted the state
textbook selection process to the detriment of local schools.
In other work session news, staff updated the board on proposed changes to the administrative code regarding Specialized Treatment Centers.
Thursday's meeting was the last for two board members completing their terms. Jeff Newman (District 7) began his state board service in 2013, and Dr. Tommie
Stewart (District 5) was appointed in January 2020 to serve the remainder of the term for the late Ella Bell. Neither sought re-election. The board
recognized each for their service and adopted commendatory resolutions.
The next SBOE meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 11 at 10 a.m., with a work session to follow.
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Read the December 2020 issue of Court Report, which includes cases involving contract principals, sexual harassment, transgender students and more. Click
the case names to read the complete opinions. This newsletter is an AASB/ACSBA member benefit.
- Jayne Harrell Williams
Jayne is General Counsel &
Director of Legal Advocacy for the
Alabama Association of School Boards
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The Alabama Association of School Boards honored recipients of the 2020 All-State School Board Award during the annual AASB Convention held Dec. 3-5 at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham - The Wynfrey Hotel. Honorees were recognized during a special Awards Breakfast held Saturday, Dec. 5.
The All-State School Board Award is AASB's highest honor. The award commends up to five past or present school board members across the state who have exhibited exemplary boardmanship. Learn more about this year's All-State School Board Award recipients:
Madison City School Board, 2011-2020
Eufaula City School Board, 1992-2020
Anniston City School Board, 2016-present
Hale County School Board, 2002-2020
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Sylacauga City Board of Education
Superintendent of Sylacauga City Schools
Dothan City Board of Education
Superintendent of Dothan City Schools
Tuscaloosa County Board of Education
CSFO of Tuscaloosa County Schools
Mitchell County (GA) Board of Education
Superintendent of Mitchell County (GA) School District
AASB’s mission is to develop excellent school board leaders through quality training, advocacy, and services. AASB’s more than 900 members of boards of education represent 138 local boards of education and other governing boards. AASB offers various levels and types of membership.
Advocacy is more than supporting a position; it's also about speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves. Alabama's school boards are expected to use their voice to translate for state policymakers the diverse needs and challenges of public education in their communities.
Providing school board leaders quality training is a key tenet of the Alabama Association of School Boards' mission statement. AASB offers coursework throughout the year in face-to-face sessions and 24 hours a day through the School Board U leadership development portal.
By pooling resources through its membership, the Alabama Association of School Boards provides services which one school board could not economically provide alone. Our services range from publications and strategic planning to policy analysis, risk management and evaluations.