Monday, February 22, was legislative day 20 and the Senate Education and Youth Committee met and moved three bills out of committee. They intended to hear and move SB 153 which is a bill developed to reduce funding to GOAL Academies in our state but ran out of time due to the length time time spent on SB 47, SB 159, SB 66.

SB 47 Expansion of the Special Needs voucher to include section 504 students.  The hearing was continued from a previous meeting of the Senate Education Committee.  The controversial bill was passed by a vote of 6-5 with one Republican voting against the bill. It was former Cobb County Board member Senator Lindsey Tippins.  He is someone who truly understands education funding and realizes the potential negative impact on the state budget as well as the lack of accountability for services to students who qualify under this legislation in the private school setting.  The state legislature has differing accountability measures for public K-12 education funding versus public money being moved to private schools. That is certainly clear in the language of this bill.

SB 159 Allowing school districts to use alternate transportation for students (eight passengers or less) under certain circumstances.  It also passed out of the committee 9-1. Similar bill on the House side is HB 455 which contains a local control provision which allows systems to opt in. True local control.

SB 66 Consolidates the Georgia Foundation for Public Education(sponsored and supported by past House Ed chairman Coleman) and Public Education Innovation Fund Foundation. Passed unanimously out of committee.

All three of these bills will move to Senate Rules and soon to the floor of the Senate.

SB 153 a bill to reduce funding to GOAL Academies will be heard at a future scheduled committee meeting.

USED assessment letter addressing state waiver, testing, and accountability options  – USED has sent a letter to all state chiefs reviewing the options for providing state testing and accountability.  It appears that USED is attempting to offer flexibility to states and ultimately locals on these issues. Review the letter and I would anticipate some guidance coming from GADOE.

Legislative day 21 is Tuesday, February 23.  No known currently scheduled committee meetings for tomorrow but we do anticipate hearing about the House Education committee meetings sometime this week.  GSSA will begin daily reports from the Capitol this week.

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