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Community Legislative Update – February 1, 2019

Halfway Through!

The Virginia General Assembly is now over halfway through the legislative session with several important milestones scheduled in the coming days. On Sunday, February 3, the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee will release their respective budget proposals that set the stage for the last step of negotiations towards adopting a final state budget for the upcoming state fiscal year beginning July 1, 2019.

Next week also includes one of the better known days of session called “Crossover;” the day by which each chamber must complete work on its own legislation. This means that the only legislation that will remain under consideration are bills that are already passed by one chamber. i.e. House bills are passed by the House and Senate bills are passed by the Senate and then crossover to the other chamber. The full House and Senate will have long days early next week to meet the midnight deadline on Tuesday evening.

Public Education Funding

RPS and advocates from around the state have been beating the drum on the issue of fully funding the Commonwealth’s public schools. The #Red4Ed and Virginia Education Association march and rally on January 28 was attended by over 4,000 citizens and the legislature received the message! Some legislative leaders announced during the rally that they would be including the Governor’s proposed 5% teacher and staff salary raise in their forthcoming budget proposal. This was a welcome development but still only a small advancement in the state’s overall funding of public education.

RPS has requested many other types of public education funding from the General Assembly. We are grateful for the steadfast support from the legislators that represent the City of Richmond; Delegate Dawn M. Adams, Delegate Lamont Bagby, Delegate Jeffrey M. Bourne, Delegate Betsy B. Carr, Delegate Delores L. McQuinn, Senator Rosalyn R. Dance, Senator Jennifer L. McClellan, and Senator Glen H. Sturtevant, Jr. These legislators sponsored a total of 27 budget requests totaling over $600 million to make progress on fully funding our schools. Please thank them for their support via email or phone, or when you see them in the community! Here are some of the priority requests they are sponsoring:

  • At-Risk Add-On - This equity-based funding program ensures that students and schools who need the most support get more funding. The Governor proposed increasing this program and we hope that an even bigger increase is possible. Senator Dance introduced an amendment to push this program to a 20% ratio. This still falls short of the 25-30% greater funding needed by at-risk schools but would mark a meaningful step in addressing inequity.
  • Support Positions - Any progress or planning to reduce or eliminate the support position cap and increase funding for various support positions will make a tremendous impact. We support the school counselors ratio adjustment proposed by the Governor as well as the budget amendments by Senator Howell and Delegate Sickles to create a plan to eliminate the cap by 2024.
  • Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) - We ask for continued support of the VPI program through greater per pupil allocations and flexibility. Delegate Bourne and Senator Dance have several language amendments (in addition to an increase in the per-pupil allocation) that would provide RPS flexibility to enroll 3-year-olds and allow for fee-based access using any slots that are not filled during initial enrollment. This will allow us to maximize participation in the program and add more diversity to our early education classrooms.
  • Teacher Incentives - In addition to the agreement reached on the 5% teacher salary increase, we also ask for support of the other teacher incentive programs introduced by Senator Sturtevant, Senator Dance, Delegate Bourne, and Delegate McQuinn.

On Sunday, we will find out whether the legislature’s “money committees” have chosen to include any of these measures in their budget proposals. Next week’s update will provide full details about what they do and do not include.

Legislation

While funding remains our top priority, RPS is tracking and weighing in on many of the pieces of legislation that would affect our public schools. RPS has not taken a position on every bill below, but is following them closely for the impact they would have on our students and teachers, and for any fiscal impact they would have on the RPS budget.

RPS adopted positions are notated below in bold.

Status updates are italicized.

As the status of bills change rapidly during session, we encourage you to visit the Legislative Information System (http://lis.virginia.gov) to look up bill status and further details including full bill text, fiscal impact statements, and vote records. Just type in the bill number!

School Safety

The safety of our students and staff has been a critical issue being considered over the last year. The House of Delegates created a special Select Committee on School Safety and the Governor asked the Virginia Children’s Cabinet to convene a Work Group on School Safety. Both groups made proposed recommendations that the General Assembly has been advancing.HB1725 – Building and Fire Code Compliance

Requires each school board, in consultation with the local building official and local fire marshal, to develop a procurement plan to ensure that all security enhancements to public school buildings are in compliance with the Uniform Statewide Building Code and Statewide Fire Prevention Code. School security upgrades can be costly, so it’s absolutely critical schools are consulting with building and fire officials to ensure these new upgrades are compliant with Code. This bill passed the House on a 97-0 vote and will now be considered by the Senate.

HB1729 – School Counselor Responsibilities

Requires each school counselor employed by a school board in a public elementary or secondary school to spend at least 80 percent of their staff time during normal school hours in the direct counseling of individual students or groups of students. Currently, school counselors are overburdened with administrative tasks that limit the amount of time they can spend providing direct student services. This bill passed the House on a 97-0 vote and will now be considered by the Senate.HB1732 – Annual Emergency Preparedness Drills

Requires each public elementary and secondary school to conduct at least one general safety/emergency training or drill for students per year. Schools already conduct fire, tornado, and earthquake drills. This bill passed the House on a 97-0 vote and will now be considered by the Senate.HB1733 / SB1214 / SB1563 – MOUs with Local Law Enforcement

Requires the school board in each school division in which the local law-enforcement agency employs school resource officers to enter into a memorandum of understanding with such local law-enforcement agency that sets forth the powers and duties of the school resource officers. School Resource Officers are responsible for upholding the law, not school board policy; therefore, it is imperative localities clearly articulate and agree upon the role and responsibilities of School Resource Officers. HB1733 passed the House on a 97-0 vote and will now be considered by the Senate. SB1563 was merged into SB1214, which was reported by the Senate Education and Health Committee 15-0 and will now be voted upon by the full Senate.HB1738 – Crime Prevention Review of School Construction Plans

Requires a licensed architect who is trained and experienced in crime prevention through environmental design to approve plans and specifications for new or remodeled public school building construction. These architects look at corridors, open spaces, and floor plans through the lense of school safety to ensure learning environments are as safe as possible. This bill passed the House on a 97-0 vote and will now be considered by the Senate.

HB1734 / SB1213 – Threat Assessment Case Management Tool

Requires the Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety to develop a case management tool for use by public elementary and secondary school threat assessment teams and requires such threat assessment teams to use such tool to collect and report to the Center quantitative data on its activities. The Center is already collecting troves of valuable data; we need to systematically analyze that data and draw insights that can be used to improve school safety across the Commonwealth. HB1734 was reported by the House General Laws Committee 22-0 and the House Appropriations Committee 22-0. It will now be voted upon by the full House. SB1213 was approved by the Senate 38-0 and will now be considered by the House.HB1735 – Commission on Student Behavioral Health

The Commission would be tasked with the ongoing study of student behavioral health matters. In addition to establishing a suicide and violence prevention tip line, similar to SafeUT, the Commission would analyze:

    • Current school counselor-to-student ratio and whether the proposed realignment of counseling responsibilities is improving the delivery of direct student services;
    • Feasibility and affordability of enhanced wrap-around mental health services in schools through partnerships with the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, the Department of Medical Assistance Services, and Community Services Boards;
    • Effectiveness of de-escalation and alternative disciplinary policies when interacting with students suffering from mental health challenges; and
    • Value of additional teacher training requirements on student mental health, such as mental health first aid.

This bill was reported by the House Rules Committee 15-1 and will now be voted upon by the full House.

HB1737 – Development of Emergency Management Plans

Requires school boards to include the chief law-enforcement officer, the fire chief, the chief of the emergency medical services agency, and the emergency management official of the locality, or their designees, in the development and review of school crisis, emergency management, and medical emergency response plans. This bill passed the House 99-0 and will now be considered by the Senate.

HB1739 / HB2720 – School Security Equipment Grants

Specifies that, for the purpose of eligibility for grants for security equipment through the Public School Security Equipment Grant Act of 2013, security equipment includes software and mobile applications. This would expand the scope of the grant to allow for more modern school safety technology that is currently available in the market. RPS supports this legislation. HB1739 was reported from the House Education Committee on a 21-1 vote but was sent back to the Committee from the floor, and will die unless acted upon by crossover. HB2720 was reported by the House Education Committee 22-0 and will now be voted upon by the full House.

HB2053 / SB1406 – School Counselor Ratios

Changes the name of guidance counselors to school counselors and starts to modify student to counselor rations so that by the 2021-2022 school year, ratios would be 250:1. RPS supports this legislation. HB2053 passed the House Education Committee 21-0 but has been amended by a House Appropriations subcommittee to only enact the first year of three years of the ratio adjustment. It is pending a vote by the full House Appropriations Committee. SB1406 was reported from the Senate Finance Committee 14-0 and will now be voted upon by the full Senate.

HB1793 – Parental Notice of Lock Down DrillRequires every public school to provide the parents of enrolled students with at least 24 hours' notice before the school conducts any lock-down drill. This bill failed in a House subcommittee.

HB2142 / SB1207 – Creates School Protection OfficersDefines a school protection officer as a retired law-enforcement officer hired on a part-time basis by the local law-enforcement agency to provide limited law-enforcement and security services to Virginia public elementary and secondary schools. The bill also provides that the Department of Criminal Justice Services shall establish compulsory minimum training standards for all persons employed as school protection officers and that such training may be provided by the employing law-enforcement agency and shall be graduated and based on the type of duties to be performed. HB2142 passed the House 53-45 and will now be considered by the Senate. SB1207 passed the Senate 27-13 and will now be considered by the House.

HB2609 / SB1130 / SB1299 / SB1530 / SB1551 – School Resource Officer Training

These bills take varying approaches to requiring additional levels of certification and training for school resource officers. HB2609 was reported by the House Education Committee 19-3 and will now be voted upon by the full House. SB1130 was reported by the Senate Education and Health Committee 14-0 and the Senate Finance Committee 16-0. It will now be voted upon by the full Senate. SB1299, SB1530, and SB1551 were incorporated into SB1130.

SB1215 – Annual Safety Training for All Students and Staff

Requires each public elementary and secondary school principal to develop and deliver to each student and employee in the school at least once annually training on safety procedures in the event of an emergency situation on school property. This bill passed the Senate 40-0 and will now be considered by the House Education Committee.

SB1591 – Information Sharing about Students

Directs the Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety (the Center) to convene a work group to develop guidelines and best practices for the sharing of information between a local school board or public institution of higher education and law enforcement regarding a student whose behavior may pose a threat to the safety of a school or institution or the community. This bill passed the full Senate 40-0 and will now be considered by the House.

SB1713 – School Bus Driver Additional Safety Training

Requires the Board of Education to include in its training program for school bus operators safety protocols for responding to adverse weather conditions, unsafe conditions during loading and unloading of students, students on the wrong bus, and other circumstances, as determined by the Board, where student safety is at risk. This bill was reported 14-0 by the Senate Education and Health Committee and will now be voted upon by the full Senate.

HB1997 – Court Notice to Principals about Student Protective Orders

Requires any court or magistrate that issues a protective order for the protection of any child who is enrolled at a public school to notify the relevant school principal that such protective order has been issued and each such school principal to subsequently notify certain school personnel. The bill has been recommended 8-0 by a House Courts of Justice Subcommittee.

 

Student Discipline and ConductHB1685 / HB1688 / SB1107 – Disorderly Conduct by Students

Provides that no enrolled public school student who disrupts the operation of the school at which he is enrolled or any activity conducted or sponsored by the school at which he is enrolled on school grounds during normal school hours is guilty of disorderly conduct. RPS supports this legislation. HB1685 and HB1688 have already been killed by the House Courts of Justice Committee. SB1107 was passed Senate Courts of Justice Committee 14-0 and will head to the full vote. If it passes, it will have to be considered by the same House Subcommittee that already killed HB1685 and HB1688.

HB2387 – Alternative Education Programs

Requires local school boards to provide alternative education programs for suspended students and assign licensed instructional personnel for such programs in a manner that produces division wide ratios of students in average daily membership to full-time equivalent teaching positions that are not greater than 10 to one. The bill also requires the Board of Education to establish quality standards for such alternative education programs. RPS supports this legislation. This bill failed in a House Appropriations subcommittee.

HB2104 – Student Dress Code Policies

Requires any dress or grooming code, which the bill defines as any practice, policy, or portion of a code of student conduct adopted by a school board that governs or restricts the attire of any enrolled student, to (i) permit any student to wear any religiously, ethnically, or culturally specific or significant head covering or hairstyle, including hijabs, yarmulkes, headwraps, braids, dreadlocks, and cornrows; (ii) maintain gender neutrality by subjecting any student to the same set of rules and standards regardless of gender; (iii) be clear, specific, and objective and avoid any subjective term or standard such as "distracting," "provocative," or "inappropriate"; (iv) prohibit any school board employee from enforcing the dress or grooming code by direct physical contact with a student or a student's attire; and (v) prohibit any school board employee from requiring a student to undress in front of any other individual, including the enforcing school board employee, to comply with the dress or grooming code. The bill requires the Board of Education to include in its guidelines and model policies for codes of student conduct standards for dress or grooming codes. This bill was defeated in a House Education subcommittee on a 4-5 vote.

HB1787 – Reporting Student Offenses to School DivisionAdds threats of death or bodily injury to another person communicated in writing to such person or member of such person's family and threats to commit serious bodily harm to persons on school property to the listing of offenses that a juvenile intake officer is required to report to the school division superintendent. This bill passed the House 99-0 and will now be considered by the Senate.

SB1545 – Alternative Student Discipline ProcessAllows a school board to adopt an alternative accountability process to provide a principal and parties involved in an incident involving assault or assault and battery without bodily injury that occurs on a school bus, on school property, or at a school-sponsored event an option to enter into a mutually agreed upon mediation process between the involved parties as an alternative to reporting such incident to law enforcement. The bill requires a principal in a school division with such a process to attempt to engage the parties involved in such an incident in the alternative accountability process prior to reporting such incident to the local law-enforcement agency. The bill prohibits a principal from reporting such an incident when the parties successfully complete the alternative accountability process. This bill was passed by the Senate 40-0 and will now be considered by the House.

 

Graduation Requirements and Non-Traditional Learning Opportunities

HB2216 / SB1532 – City of Richmond STEM Internship Tax CreditCreates a tax credit for a business that hosts a junior or senior in a Richmond City Schools high school as an intern in a STEM or high-demand field for a semester during the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 academic year. The business would receive a $2,500 credit per student per semester. Participation in the program is limited to 25 students. RPS supports this legislation. HB2216 was defeated 4-4 in the House Finance Committee. SB1532 was amended into a grant program (instead of a tax credit) and was reported 16-0 by the Senate Finance Committee contingent on funding in the state budget. It will now be voted on by the full Senate.

HB2008 / SB1348 – Creation of Energy Career Cluster

Requires the Department of Education, in consultation with representatives from pertinent industries such as renewable energy, natural gas, nuclear energy, coal, and oil, to establish an energy career cluster. The bill requires the Department of Education to base the knowledge and skill sets contained in such energy career cluster on the energy industry competency and credential models developed by the Center for Energy Workforce Development in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor. HB2008 was reported by the House Education Committee 22-0 and is now under consideration by the House Appropriations Committee. SB1348 was reported by the Senate Finance Committee 14-0 and will now be voted upon by the full Senate.

HB2018 / SB1147 / SB1434 – Alternative Learning Opportunities to Count Towards Instructional Hours

Requires the Board of Education, in establishing high school graduation requirements, to permit time spent by students in locally approved courses aligned with the Standards of Learning, in service learning opportunities, and in career and technical workplace opportunities, including internships, externships, apprenticeships, credentialing programs, certification programs, licensure programs, and other work-based learning experiences, to be included in the 140 clock hours of instruction required for the relevant course. HB2018 was passed by the House 99-0 and will now be considered by the Senate. SB1147 was merged into SB1434, which was reported 15-0 by the Senate Education and Health Committee. It will now be voted upon by the full Senate.

HB2123 – College and Career Access Pathways Partnerships

Permits each local school board to enter into College and Career Access Pathways Partnerships (Partnerships), currently referred to as agreements, with comprehensive community colleges or other public institutions of higher education or educational institutions that offer a career and technical education curriculum. The bill requires any such Partnership to (i) specify the options for students to take courses as part of the career and technical education curriculum that lead to course credit or an industry-recognized credential, certification, or license concurrent with a high school diploma, (ii) specify the credit, credentials, certifications, or licenses available for such courses, and (iii) permit students to participate in pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs at comprehensive community colleges concurrent with a high school diploma and receive college credit and high school credit for successful completion of any such program. Current law allows local school boards to enter into agreements with such institutions but does not specify course credit as being part of the agreements. This bill passed the House Education Committee 19-2 and the House Appropriations Committee 22-0. It is pending a vote by the full House.

HB2662 – Work Experience and Capstone Projects

Directs the Board of Education, in establishing high school graduation requirements, to require students to complete (i) a work experience such as an internship, an externship, or another work-based or service-based learning experience during eleventh or twelfth grade and (ii) a capstone project that aligns with and further develops the knowledge and skills attained through such work experience. This bill passed the House 95-0 and will now be considered by the Senate.

SB1522 – Dual Enrollment Agreements and Graduation Requirements

Requires local school boards and comprehensive community colleges to enter into dual enrollment agreements for postsecondary credential, certification, or license attainment concurrent with a high school diploma. The bill also requires the Board of Education to include in its graduation requirements provisions for the award of standard units of credit for successfully completing such a program at a comprehensive community college through a dual enrollment agreement. This bill was defeated in the Senate Education and Health committee.

SB1590 – Virtual Virginia

Requires that the Virtual Virginia program, the statewide electronic classroom established by the Department of Education, be made available to all public schools. Currently, the program is available only to high schools. The bill requires the Department to utilize a learning management system for the purposes of implementing Virtual Virginia. The bill also authorizes the Department to charge a per-student fee to school divisions for each student enrolled in a full-time Virtual Virginia program beyond an initial allotment of 15 such students per school division and prohibits the Department from limiting the total number of such students by school division. This bill was reported by the Senate Finance Committee 13-0 and will now be voted upon by the full Senate.

HB2338 / SB1218 – SOL Requirements in US and Virginia History

Would require students to earn a verified credit in US and Virginia history and that the assessment may not be a performance-based assessment. HB2338 passed the House Education Committee 12-10 and is now under consideration by the House Appropriations Committee. SB1218 was reported by the Senate Education and Health Committee 14-1 and the Senate Finance Committee 14-0. It will now be voted upon by the full Senate.

SB1440 – Mental Health InstructionDirects the Board of Education to review and update the health Standards of Learning for students in all grades to include mental health. Legislation passed in 2018 required such review and update for students in grades nine and 10.  SB1440 was passed by the Senate 40-0 and will now be considered by the House Education Committee.

SB1502 – Elective Offering of Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament/New TestamentRequires the Board of Education to permit school boards to offer as an elective in grades nine through 12 with appropriate credits toward graduation a course on the Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament of the Bible or the New Testament of the Bible or a combined course on both. The bill requires the Board of Education to develop Standards of Learning and curriculum guidelines for such courses. The bill provides that the purpose of such courses is to introduce students to biblical content, characters, poetry, and narratives that are prerequisites to understanding contemporary society and culture, including literature, art, music, mores, oratory, and public policy. The bill prohibits students from being required to use a specific translation of a religious text when taking the courses and provides that such courses shall maintain religious neutrality and shall not endorse, favor, promote, disfavor, or show hostility toward any particular religion or nonreligious perspective. This bill passed the Senate Education and Health Committee 8-6 and will now be voted upon by the full Senate.

 

Student Health

HB1881 – Instruction on the Hazards of Nicotine Vapor ProductsRequires instruction concerning the health and safety risks of using nicotine vapor products to be provided in public schools. This bill passed the House Education Committee 22-0 and is now being considered for fiscal impact by the House Appropriations Committee.

HB2384 / SB1295 – Policies on Prohibition of Tobacco and Nicotine Products

Requires each school board to (i) develop and implement a policy to prohibit the use and distribution of tobacco products and nicotine vapor products on a school bus, on school property, or at an on-site or off-site school-sponsored activity and (ii) include in its code of student conduct a prohibition against possessing tobacco products or nicotine vapor products on a school bus, on school property, or at an on-site or off-site school-sponsored activity. Current law only places these requirements on each school board with regard to electronic cigarettes. HB2384 was passed by the House Education Committee 20-2 and will now be voted upon by the full House. SB1295 was passed by the Senate 37-1 and will now be considered by the House.

HB1720 / SB1632 – Use of Cannabidiol Oil by StudentsPermits any student who possesses a valid and unexpired written certification to use cannabidiol oil or THC-A oil that is issued by a licensed practitioner of medicine or osteopathy to possess and use cannabidiol oil or THC-A oil on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored activity. The bill prohibits a school board from suspending or expelling from school attendance any such student who possesses or uses cannabidiol oil or THC-A oil on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored activity. HB1720 passed the House 99-0 and will now be considered by the Senate. SB1632 passed the Senate 40-0 and will now be considered by the House.

HB1930 – Annual Updating of Concussion PoliciesRequires the Board of Education and consequently local school divisions to biannually update policies regarding concussions in student-athletes. This bill passed the House 97-0 and will now be considered by the Senate.

HB2318 – School Nurses Ability to Administer NaloxoneAdds school nurses and local health department employees that are assigned to a public school pursuant to an agreement between the local health department and school board to the list of individuals who may possess and administer naloxone or other opioid antagonist, provided that they have completed a training program. This bill passed the House Health, Welfare, and Institutions Committee 22-0 and will now be voted upon by the full House.

HB2508 / SB1258 – Behavior Analysts in SchoolsIncludes licensed behavior analysts and licensed assistant behavior analysts as support services positions in a local school division. RPS supports this legislation. HB2508 was reported by the House Education Committee 22-0 but the bill failed in a House Appropriations subcommittee. SB1258 was passed by the Senate 38-0 and will now be considered by the House.

HB2623 – Parental Consent for Student CounselingRequires the Board of Education to create model policies for the provision of student counseling services, including parental consent, notification, and participation. This bill was reported by the House Education Committee 21-0 and will now be voted upon by the full House.

SB1646 – Menstrual Supplies in SchoolsRequires school divisions to provide menstrual supplies to students in grades 6-12 at no cost. This bill was defeated in the Senate Education and Health Committee.

SB1142 – State School Health Advisory CommitteeRequires the Board of Education to establish the State School Health Advisory Committee, consisting of no more than 20 nonlegislative citizen members, to advise the Board, the Governor, and the General Assembly on (i) the role of employees in public elementary or secondary schools in providing health care services at such schools and (ii) the need for any training associated with delivery of health care services. This bill passed the Senate 40-0 and will now be considered by the House Rules Committee.

SB1195 – Children’s Cabinet to Study School-Based Health CentersDirects the Secretary of Health and Human Resources and the Secretary of Education to establish a school-based health centers joint task force that is tasked with (i) assessing the current landscape of school-based services and mental health screening, evaluation, and treatment in school settings; (ii) in coordination with ongoing behavioral health transformation efforts of the Department of Medical Assistance Services and the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, developing best practice recommendations for trauma-informed school-based health centers as a vehicle for the provision of both medical and behavioral health delivered in school settings; and (iii) developing a plan for establishing a Virginia affiliate member organization, recognized by the national School-Based Health Alliance, for the purposes of providing technical assistance and guidance for localities interested in bolstering or implementing current and future school-based health centers. This bill was passed by the Senate 40-0 and will now be considered by the House.

 

Teachers

HB1724 – Grow Your Own Teacher Pilot ProgramEstablishes the Grow Your Own Teacher Pilot Programs Fund and permits DOE to award grants from such fund to local school boards to provide college scholarships not to exceed $7,500 per academic year to any individual who (i) graduated from a public high school in the local school division, (ii) was eligible for free or reduced price lunch throughout the individual's attendance at a public high school in the local school division, and (iii) commits to teach, within three years of graduating from the baccalaureate institution of higher education in the Commonwealth and for a period of at least four years, at a public high school at which at least 50 percent of students qualify for free or reduced price lunch in the school division in which such individual graduated from high school. RPS supports this legislation. This bill was defeated in a House subcommittee.

HB2037 / SB1397 – Diversifying Teacher Workforce ActEliminates the requirement, established by the Virginia Board of Education, that all individuals seeking entry into a traditional teacher preparation program must pass the professional assessments. These assessments show significant pass rate gaps between white teacher candidates and minority teacher candidates. Candidate screening tests also inadvertently perpetuate historic inequities. It would allow colleges and universities in Virginia to establish their own entry requirements into their programs. The bill also grants authority to the Virginia Board of Education to develop an alternative evaluation that would allow a teacher candidate to demonstrate proficiency in the relevant content area, communication, literacy, and other core skills for educators before being granted an initial teaching license. This bill does not eliminate the professional assessment as one of the means of evaluating a teacher candidate’s readiness to become a licensed teacher, it simply allows the development of an alternative method of evaluation as prescribed by the Board. And finally, it allows for a local Superintendent to request a waiver from the Virginia Board of Education of the professional assessment requirement of a provisionally licensed teacher who has met all of the other requirements for full licensure and has also received a rating of proficient or above on the performance standards each year of their provisional license. RPS supports this legislation. HB2037 passed the House Education Committee 21-0 and the House Appropriations Committee 22-0. It will now go the full House for a floor vote.

HB2589 – Licensure for Dual Enrollment TeachersRequires the Board of Education (the Board) to provide for the issuance of three-year licenses to teach, either full time or part time, dual enrollment courses at high schools in specific subject areas to an individual who (i) submits an application to the Board, in the form prescribed by the Board, that includes a recommendation for such a license from the local school board; (ii) meets certain basic conditions for licensure as prescribed by the Board; (iii) holds (a) at a minimum, a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher education and has completed coursework in the subject area in which the individual seeks to teach or (b) the required professional license in the specific subject area in which the individual seeks to teach, where applicable; (iv) has at least four years of full-time work experience or its equivalent in the subject area in which the individual seeks to teach; and (v) if appropriate, has obtained qualifying scores on the communication and literacy professional teacher's assessment prescribed by the Board. The bill requires the employing school board to assign a mentor to supervise an individual issued such a license during his first two years of teaching. This bill was reported by the House Education Committee 20-1 and the House Appropriations Committee 22-0. It will now be voted upon by the full House.

HB2217 / SB1419 – Microcredential ProgramPermits the Department of Education to establish a microcredential program for the purpose of permitting any public elementary or secondary school teacher who holds a renewable or provisional license or any individual who participates in any alternate route to licensure program to complete additional in-person or blended coursework and earn microcredentials in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) endorsement areas, including computer science, for which there is a high need for additional qualified teachers. HB2217 was approved by the House 99-0 and will now be considered by the Senate. SB1419 was reported by the Senate Finance Committee 16-0 and will now be voted upon by the full Senate.

HB2612 – Planning Time for Public School Teachers

Requires each school board to ensure that each elementary school, middle school, and high school teacher in its employment is provided at least one 45-minute period per school day as planning time that is unencumbered and otherwise uninterrupted, except in the case of the emergency need for classroom support or another emergency situation. Under current law, public elementary school teachers are guaranteed at least an average of 30 minutes of planning time per school day during a school week. This bill was defeated in a House Education subcommittee.

HB2646 – Class SizesReduces from 29 to 28 the maximum class size in kindergarten; from 30 to 28 the maximum class size in grades one, two, and three; and from 35 to 29 the maximum class size in grades four, five, and six. After being reported by the House Education Committee 22-0, this bill was defeated by a House Appropriations subcommittee.

SB1575 – Licensure of Higher Education InstructorsPermits any school board to employ any individual, who is employed by an accredited institution of higher education as an instructor, to teach career and technical education courses or dual enrollment courses in the local school division, regardless of whether such individual holds a license issued by the Board of Education. This bill was reported by the Senate Education and Health Committee 15-0 and will now be voted upon by the full Senate.

HB2325 – Private Reprimand of EmployeesRequires the Board of Education to include, in its regulations that prescribe the requirements for the licensure of teachers and other school personnel required to hold a license, procedures for the written reprimand of such license holders. The bill permits the Board of Education to issue written reprimand to any such license holder who knowingly and willfully commits a certain enumerated act relating to secure mandatory tests administered to students. The only express disciplinary actions that are permissible under current law in such a scenario are suspension or revocation of such individual's license. The bill also permits a school board or division superintendent to issue written reprimand to a teacher who breaches his employment contract after the school board or division superintendent declines to grant such teacher's request for release from such contract on the grounds of insufficient or unjustifiable cause. The only express disciplinary action that is permissible under current law in such a scenario is revocation of such teacher's license. This bill passed the House 95-0 and will now be considered by the Senate.

 

School OperationsHB1921 – Unexpended Funds for Capital ProjectsPermits any school board to finance capital projects with any funds appropriated to it by the local governing body that are unexpended by the school board in any year. This bill was supported by RPS but has been killed by the House Appropriations Committee.

HB2222 – Advertising on School BusesPermits local school boards to display commercial advertising material on the sides of school buses between the rear wheels and the rear of the bus, provided that no such material (i) obstructs the name of the school division or the number of the school bus, (ii) is sexually explicit, or (iii) pertains to alcohol; food or beverages that do not meet school nutrition standards or any additional state or local nutrition standards for food or beverages sold to students in school; gambling; politics; or tobacco. RPS supports this legislation. This bill passed the House 69-29 and will now be considered by the Senate.

SB1629 – Reporting Lead Testing and Remediation Plans to VDH

Requires each local school board to submit its plan to test and remediate certain potable water sources and report the results of any such test to the Department of Health. This bill passed the Senate 39-1 and will now be considered by the House.

 

School Calendar

HB1752 / SB1223 – Election Days as School HolidaysProhibits local school boards from requiring students to attend school on the second Tuesday in June or the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. HB1752 passed the House 97-1 and will now be considered by the Senate. SB1223 was defeated by the Senate Education and Health Committee 12-2.

HB1615 – Primary Elections to be Held After School YearChanges the date of the primary election held in June from the second Tuesday in June to the third Tuesday in June. The bill also changes candidate filing deadlines to reflect the change of date. Currently, many schools are still in session on the June primary day, which brings thousands of people onto school property. Pushing this back a week would ensure schools are not in session. This bill was reported by the House Privileges and Elections Committee 19-3 and will now be voted upon by the full House.

HB1652 / SB1005 – Pre-Labor Day OpeningMakes local school boards and local governing boards responsible for setting the school calendar. Currently, unless a division has a waiver based on certain conditions, schools may not open before Labor Day. RPS supports this legislation. The bill passed the House 81-15 and will now be considered by the Senate.

School Construction

SB1330 – Voter Referendum on School ModernizationProvides for a statewide referendum on the question of whether the General Assembly shall issue state general obligation bonds in the amount of $3 billion for the purpose of K-12 school building construction, repair, or other capital projects to modernize school facilities. RPS supports this legislation. This bill was defeated in the Senate Finance Committee 14-2.

HB2192 / SB1331 – Standards for School Construction and OperationsEstablishes standards for the design, construction, maintenance, and operation of public school buildings and facilities and allows for a local school division to enter into a lease agreement with a private entity to meet such standards. The bill would allow for net energy metering in public school buildings and facilities. The bill would also authorize the Virginia Resources Authority to provide partial funding for school modernization projects, effective January 1, 2020. RPS supports this legislation. HB2192 passed the House General Laws Committee 21-0 and will now be voted upon by the full House. SB1331 was reported by the Senate Finance Committee 16-0 and will now be voted upon by the full Senate.

SB1574 – Revenue from Gaming for School ConstructionCreates a revenue sharing program, if gaming is authorized in the Commonwealth, that would require the owner or operator of any gaming establishment to share 40 percent of its adjusted gross receipts with the Commonwealth. The revenues would be distributed as follows: 40 percent would be used to support higher education affordability initiatives, forty percent would be used to support elementary and primary school construction, and twenty percent would be used to supporting the marketing and promotion of Virginia tourism destinations. RPS supports this legislation. This bill was amended and reported by the Senate Finance Committee 13-0 and will now be voted upon by the full Senate.

SB1702 – Public School Assistance Fund for Capital Projects Related to School RoofsCreates the Public School Assistance Fund and Program, to be administered by the Department of Education, for the purpose of providing grants to school boards to be used solely for the purpose of repairing or replacing the roofs of public school buildings. The bill requires the Department of Education to prioritize award of grants to school boards that demonstrate the greatest need based on the condition of existing school building roofs and the ability to pay for the repair or replacement of such roofs. RPS supports this legislation. This bill passed the Senate Finance Committee 14-0 and will now be voted upon by the full Senate.

HB2168 – Commission on School Innovation, Modernization, and CompetitivenessEstablishes the legislative Commission on School Innovation, Modernization, and Competitiveness to develop and oversee the implementation of a goal and strategic plan for (i) promoting and increasing public high school student participation in dual enrollment courses, industry certifications, and state licensure examinations, (ii) modernizing public elementary and secondary school buildings throughout the Commonwealth, and (iii) achieving the Commonwealth's teacher compensation goal. RPS supports this legislation. Although receiving an unfavorable subcommittee vote, this bill passed the House Rules Committee 8-6 and will now go to the full House for a vote.

 

Family Life Education and Parental NoticesHB2107 - Parental Review of Anti-Bullying and Suicide Prevention MaterialsRequires local school boards to develop and implement policies that ensure parents the right to review any audio-visual materials that contain graphic sexual or violent content used in any anti-bullying or suicide prevention program. Such policies shall require that prior to using any such material, the parent of the child participating in such a program shall be provided written notice of his right to review the material and his right to excuse his child from participating in the part of such program utilizing such material. This bill has passed the House 86-13 and will now be considered by the Senate.

HB1693 – Family Life Education Curriculum for Students with Disabilities

Requires family life education curriculum to include, at least four times during grades 11 and 12, instruction for students with disabilities on a variety of topics, including social skills, self-esteem, sexuality, and rights and responsibilities. Although this bill passed the House Education Committee, it was sent back to the Committee from the full House and unless acted upon by Tuesday, will die.

HB2205 – Family Life Education Curriculum to Include Meaning of ConsentRequires any high school family life education curriculum offered by a local school division to incorporate age-appropriate elements of effective and evidence-based programs on the law and meaning of consent. This bill passed the House Education Committee 22-0 and will now be voted upon by the full House.

SB1141 – Family Life Education Curriculum to Include Prevention of Human TraffickingRequires the Board of Education, in its curriculum guidelines for family life education, to include instruction on the prevention of human trafficking. Additionally, the bill requires any high school family life education program offered in a local school division to incorporate age-appropriate elements of effective and evidence-based programs on the prevention of human trafficking. This bill passed the Senate 40-0 and will now be considered by the House Education Committee.

SB1159 – Family Life Education Curriculum to Include Female Genital MutilationRequires any family life education curriculum offered in any elementary school, middle school, or high school to incorporate age-appropriate elements of effective and evidence-based programs on the harmful physical and emotional effects of female genital mutilation, associated criminal penalties, and the rights of the victim including any civil action. This bill was passed by the Senate 40-0 and will now be considered by the House Education Committee.

SB1595 – Inclusion of Sexual Health, Self-Restraint, and Privacy Instruction in IEPs

Requires the Department of Education to establish guidelines for individualized education program (IEP) teams to utilize when developing IEPs for children with disabilities to ensure that IEP teams consider the need for age-appropriate and developmentally-appropriate instruction related to sexual health, self-restraint, self-protection, respect for personal privacy, and personal boundaries of others. The bill requires each local school board, in developing IEPs for children with disabilities, in addition to any other requirements established by the Board, to ensure that IEP teams consider such guidelines. This bill passed the Senate 40-0 and will now be considered by the House Education Committee.Other

HB2458 / SB1095 – Early Childhood Success ActThis legislation would realign all Early childhood care in the Commonwealth to be administered by the Board of Education, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the Department of Education. The bill transfers the authority to license and regulate child day programs and other early child care agencies from the Board of Social Services and Department of Social Services to the Board of Education and the Department of Education. The bill maintains current licensure, background check, and other requirements of such programs. The bill establishes the Early Childhood Innovation Fund for the purpose of facilitating regional public-private collaboration and to field test innovative strategies and evidence-based practices that support a robust system of comprehensive early childhood care and education services to deliver measurable school readiness outcomes and meet regional workforce support needs. RPS supports this legislation. HB2458 reported 20-1 by the House Education Committee and is now under consideration by the House Education Committee. SB1095 was reported by the Senate Education and Health Committee and the Senate Finance Committee and will now be voted upon by the full House.

HB2102 – Participation of Home School Students in Interscholastic Public School ProgramsThis bill would require public school divisions to allow home school students to participation in Virginia High School League interscholastic activities. RPS opposes this legislation and it was defeated in the House Education Committee.

HB2382 – Freedom of Speech of Student JournalistsDeclares that, except in certain limited circumstances, a student journalist at a public school or college has the right to exercise freedom of speech and the press in school-sponsored media, including determining the news, opinion, feature, and advertising content of school-sponsored media, regardless of whether the media is supported financially by the school board, supported through the use of school facilities in the school division, or produced in conjunction with a course or class in which the student is enrolled. The bill defines "school-sponsored media" as any material that is prepared, substantially written, published, or broadcast by a student journalist at a public elementary or secondary school or public institution of higher education under the direction of a student media adviser and distributed or generally made available to members of the student body. RPS supports this legislation. This legislation was killed by a House Education subcommittee.

SJ307 – Study of the True Costs of Education Directs the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission to study the true cost of education in the Commonwealth and provide an accurate assessment of the costs to implement the Standards of Quality. RPS supports this legislation. This resolution was defeated by the Senate Rules Committee.

Your Engagement Matters!The RPS team has been tracking the bills above, testifying before committees, meeting with legislators, and talking about all the great things happening at RPS. But we want to empower you to be an advocate because it’s your voice that matters! We have published an Advocacy Toolkit with many resources related to the legislative process and how to communicate with your legislators about your views on the budget and legislation! Our resources include:

  • Legislative Agenda and Policy Positions
  • Advocacy Guide
  • Letter Writing Guide
  • The Legislative Process

The Office of Engagement is here to support your advocacy efforts! Contact our Director of Advocacy and Outreach, Matthew Stanley (mstanley@rvaschools.net) with any questions about legislation or how to participate in the legislative process. It's only with your participation in the legislative process that we will succeed in securing more funding for better schools and stronger students!