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Tuesday, February 21, 2023 - Legislative Day #21
Archive of Past Legislative Alerts 

2023 GAE Day at the Capitol is Thursday!
ESP retirement, TKES evaluations,
and teacher planning time bills introduced

HB 335
, by Rep. John Corbett, R-Lowndes County, would allow members of the Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS) to choose to join the Georgia Teachers Retirement System (TRS).  PSERS is the state pension plan for school bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria workers, and school maintenance employees.  ESPs in PSERS currently contribute $10 a month toward their retirement.  If they choose to participate in TRS, they would pay 6% of their salary.  Since HB 335 is a fiscal retirement bill, a actuarial study will be required, and the legislation can't be formally passed until next session.

HB 340 seeks to protect duty-free lunch in grades K-5 and ensure planning time for teachers in grades 6-12.  The bill has bi-partisan support.  Excerpts from the bill:
"Every teacher who is employed in grades six through 12 for a period of time of more than one-half of the class periods of the regular school day shall be provided a daily planning period of not less than 30 consecutive minutes, and such employee shall not be assigned any responsibilities during such planning period ...

... This duty-free planning period shall not be calculated under any circumstances as a part of any daily lunch period or other noninstructional time."

The bill does includes exceptions in the case of "extreme economic conditions or an unforeseen and unavoidable personnel shortage."  The bill as introduced does not include a clause that would prevent school systems from waiving it.
HB 356, to ban corporal punishment in schools, has been assigned to the House Education Committee.

HB 440 would permit schools to have a supply of glucagon.  The bill passed today in the House Public Health Committee.

HB 443 would direct the State Board of Education to give each public-school student a copy of the United States Constitution.

HB 457 eliminates the negative consequences of two "needs development" summative ratings on TKES evaluation so that teachers would no longer face the punitive action of loss of certification.

SB 154 appears to subject school librarians and media specialists to charges of a "of a high and aggravated nature” for furnishing a student any picture, photograph, drawing, sculpture, motion picture film, or similar visual representation or image of a person or portion of the human body which depicts sexually explicit nudity, sexual conduct, or sadomasochistic abuse and which is harmful to minors."

SB 206, a bill introduced by 15 Senate Republicans, would require Social Security coverage for all employees in the Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS) and require the state to identify school districts that are not participating in the Social Security System for PSERS members.  PSERS is the pension plan for school bus drivers, custodians, maintenance personnel, and cafeteria workers in Georgia.  School districts, even if they do not participate or contribute to the Social Security System for teachers covered under the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia (TRS), are required to deduct FICA taxes and contribute to the Social Security System for members of the PSERS.

SB 207, by state Sen. Jason Esteves, would increase the minimum base salary for certified teachers to $49,000.  The bill, unfortunately, also would prevent teachers who receive two consecutive "needs development" summative TKES evaluations from advancing on the state salary step schedule.

SB 211, by Sen. Billy Hickman of Statesboro, would create the Georgia Council on Literacy.  The Council would be tasked with conducting comprehensive reviews of birth to post-secondary programs and other issues related to improving the literacy outcomes of Georgia citizens.  The Council would include four individuals to include a teacher, a local board of education member, a local school superintendent, and a literacy advocate appointed by the Lieutenant Governor and the same appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives.  Each non-legislative member of the Council would serve for a term of four years.

This Week at the Capitol
The Policy Subcommittee of the House Education Committee will meet Wednesday at 4 p.m. in Room 406 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building.  HB 51 and HB 402 are on the agenda.

HB 51 would allow the use of "vehicles other than school buses for the transport" of any student.  Current law, adopted in 2021, allowed the use of such vehicles to transport students receiving special education services and students who were homeless as defined by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.

HB 402 requires each school to provide parents/guardians with information about water safety education courses and swimming lessons.

Meanwhile, t
he Curriculum Subcommittee of the House Education Committee met today to consider HB 318 and HB 338.  HB 318 makes changes to the Office of Charter School Compliance under the State Charter Schools Commission to encourage more local districts to approve more charter schools.  The bill passed out of the subcommittee this afternoon.

HB 338, the "Student Technology Protection Act," filed by the chair of the House Education Committee, Rep. Chris Erwin of northeast Georgia, requires schools to implement technologies (filtering software) to prevent access to "child pornography," "harmful to minors," and "obscene material," which are defined in the bill and current law.  A school or school system that fails to do so risks loss of state funding.  HB 338 includes language that states it cannot by waived by school districts.  The subcommittee approved the bill.

The Senate Education Committee held hearings this afternoon on the following

SB 18 would allow students and their siblings to attend the same schools provided they continue to reside in the same resident school system.  There was no vote on the legislation.

SB 96 is a bill specific to one out-of-state, for-profit company that prepares educators for certification.  A similar bill last year was opposed by the Professional Standards Commission (PSC) and the Georgia Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (GACTE).  The beneficiary of this legislation is on probation in its home state of Texas for failing to meet that state’s standards that ensure future educators receive high-quality training.  The bill passed on a 4-2 vote.

SB 169 would allow for the extension of hearing dates for student discipline tribunals to no later than 20 school days after the beginning date of a student suspension.  The bill passed committee unanimously.

SB 170 would allow students to serve as ex-officio members of the State Board of Education.  The bill also encourages local boards of education to allow a student to serve as an ex-officio member of their boards.  The bill was approved unanimously by the committee.

The Senate Committee on Higher Education will meet Wednesday, February 22 at 2:00 p.m. in 307 CLOB.
  On the agenda:

SB 52 requires the Georgia Student Finance Commission to issue regular reports to the General Assembly and to establish participation and performance targets, including, but not limited to, targets to increase participation and success among under-represented groups of students in the state's dual enrollment program.

SB 86 allows eligible students participating in the dual enrollment program to access HOPE career grant funds for certain CTAE courses, irrespective of whether they have reached maximum credit hour caps.

The Senate Retirement Committee has a meeting scheduled for Thursday, February 23, at 2 p.m. in the Senate Mezzanne.  No educator-relaled retirement legislation is on the agenda.


Next Legislative Alert will be Wednesday, February 22

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