Advocate for Schools
ASF 2018-03-09 Senate Votes to Appoint Superintendents
The Senate Thursday approved a bill that would start the transition of remaining elected superintendents to appointed offices. Local school leaders reached out and persuaded senators that S. 280 (Brewbaker) is long overdue.
Senate Votes to Appoint Superintendents; Cyberbully Focus
The Senate Thursday approved a bill that would start the transition of remaining elected superintendents to appointed offices. Local school leaders reached out and persuaded senators that S. 280 (Brewbaker) is long overdue. The Senate voted 24-2to possibly make Alabama the 49th state to move away from electing superintendents, leaving Florida alone with this outdated governance model.
Senators listened and recognized the inherent conflict for superintendents who must switch from managing schools to campaign mode every four years.Unlike appointed leaders, elected incumbents must divert their attention and compete against fellow administrators in political campaigns. The elections divide loyalties and disrupt morale within school systems. The bill would:
Provide a generous timeline to allow incumbents to seek and serve another term and become effective at the end of their term after Jan. 2021;
Authorize an earlier transition if the local board offers and the elected superintendent accepts a contract; and
Remove the vacancy posting requirement if the elected superintendent accepts a contract before/after Jan. 2021.
Elected superintendents say they are free to focus on schools and students for the first two years, but then must consider political consequences for every action. The Senate voted to end that dilemma. Ask the House Education Policy Committee to vote YES to S.280.
Proactively address bullying
House members unanimously approved H.366 (Knight), a bill that would rename and expand the Student Harassment Prevention Act for a Montgomery 5th- grade student who took his life after experiencing online bullying last fall. The House approved the Jamari Terrell Williams Student Bullying Prevention Act by a 99-0 vote and all House members added their names as co-sponsors before sending it on to the Senate.
The bill would add cyberbullying to the pattern of intentional behavior in the definition of bullying. The bill would specifically include behavior that substantially interferes with the operation of school, whether the conduct occurs on or off school property, online, or electronically. Each school board and school must prominently post the board’s official bullying complaint form on its website and include it in its student handbook.
The act would require each school to address the issue at the beginning of each year with faculty and students. The program would encourage reporting bullying incidents, and a committee would periodically meet to review the issue of school climate, safety and bullying.
No 529 private tuition incentive
Dangerous bills are poised for final passage in the House and Senate and would conform state law to expand 529 plan state deductions for private K-12 school tuition savings.Every state must decide if it wants to grant a state income tax deduction now that Congress authorized expanding 529 accounts for a private K-12 tuition benefit at the federal level.
The state can reject the proposal to use dollars that would otherwise flow to the Education Trust Fund as a tax break for saving for private school.In short:
1.Alabama law currently limits 529 distributions to eligible higher education expenses.
2.The bills would allow a stateincome tax deduction for 529 distributions used to pay private K-12 tuition.
3.Alabamians already can receive the expanded federal deduction.
4.Alabama must oppose extending the state income tax deduction.
Your calls matter.Senate discussion halted and the bill was carried over temporarily after push back on the floor Tuesday.Thanks go to Sen. Rodger Smitherman for his comments on the Senate floor.
Each bill is pending final passage in each Chamber.
Ask Senators:NO to H.251 (Johnson, K.)
Ask House members:NO to S.189 (Brewbaker)
Vacancy posting to Governor
The House Thursday unanimously gave final passage to S.22 (Brewbaker/Whorton, I.) to reduce personnel vacancy posting notice from 14 to 7 calendar days.Systems may opt to post notice on the board website rather than physically post notices at all schools as currently required. Individuals or associations will receive a job posting by email upon request. Thanks to lawmakers for updating the school posting law to help school systems operate more efficiently.
Threat to abolish ETF dies
“Bad, bad, bad!” AASB Director Sally Smith testified to Senate committee members in a public hearing opposing S.292 (Hightower).The bill would propose a constitutional amendment to deposit all state revenue in one General Fund.Smith explained three reasons to oppose:
1.The plan solves nothing — for the ETF or GF.
2.The public doesn’t want the plan.
3.It sends the wrong message for the state and economic development efforts.
All K-12 education entities, the community college system and higher education were present to oppose the bill.The committee indefinitely postponed the bill and this threat, this session, is over.
Education budget & ...
The Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee will meet Tuesday at 1 p.m. to review a substitute including senate priorities.
H.174 (Poole) — Pay raise — would provide a 2.5 percent raise for education employees.Approved by Senate FTE; pending final passage.
H.179 (Poole) — $41m K-12 ATF supplemental — would allow K-12 schools to receive $41 million in funding from the Advancement & Technology Fund as a supplemental appropriation this year. Those funds may not be accessed without authorizing legislation.Amended to allow ATF funds to be spent on school safety programs as an authorized option.Authorized options currently include: repairs and deferred maintenance; classroom instructional support; insurance for facilities; transportation; or acquisition or purchase of technology. Approved by Senate FTE; pending final passage.
Education bill updates
H.228 (Standridge) — In God we trust motto — would permit display of the national motto in public buildings, including public schools. Sent to the Governor for signature.
H.490 (Rowe) — Interpreters in schools — would exempt licensing requirements, upon written local board approval, for an individual to provide service to students in emergency/incidental situations. Introduced.
H.498 (Baker) — PLOP option for retirees — would allow retirees a 5th option from TRS; provides a partial lump sum of up to 24-months of allowance as an up front distribution with reduced benefits thereafter.Introduced.
S.159 (Shelnutt) — Access to employees — would grant all professional educators’ associations the same level of access to school employees.Sent to Governor for signature.
S.181 (Dial)—Ten Commandments — would propose a constitutional amendment to provide for the display of the Ten Commandments on state property or public school property. Pending final passage in House.
S.323 (Pittman)— ATF option — would add school safety programs as an authorized spending option for the ATF in the Rolling Reserve Act.Pending in Senate.