Below are edited notes taken during the meeting of the House Appropriations and Budget subcommittee on Education held on Monday, April 2, 2012. It is not a complete transcript of everything that was said. The bills are ordered as they appeared on the agenda, not in the order in which they were discussed during the meeting. Links provided take you to more information about the bill including the actual language and vote details.
SB1182 – Technology center school districts – building fund – Denney, Anderson*
Denney: expands what career tech school districts can do with capital project funds. Can purchase computer systems, grounds maintenance and more.
Bill passes unanimously.
SB1185 – School Administrator Professional Development Pilot Program – creating – Denney, Paddack*
Denney: will have principals get 10hrs of continuing ed and if the school fails to meet AYP, will need 6hrs in the next year.
Thomsen: are there qualities identified missing from current training that this will address? Denney: I don’t think the programs are missing anything, we want our principals to have this training between years 2 and 5 and any time the school fails to meet AYP.
Kern: so we currently have training in place and this is something new? Denney: We have training and this is mandating when the training must happen.
J. McDaniel: is there anything in law that precludes this? Denney: there’s nothing that requires this.
Coody: would you not agree the key to a successful school – in addition to the teachers – is good leadership? Denney: the teachers need a good leader at the helm of the school. Coody: and do you not agree that continuous development is needed? Denney: Yes, we are saying it’s so important we want our principals to continue in professional development.
Casey: what I’m hearing is they need more money for staff development, but if it’s such a priority, why not fund this over other areas? Denney: I agree.
Kern: we keep doing things we don’t have the money for just yet and I have a problem with that. Is this needed to help solidify getting the NCLB waiver? Denney: it’s not a request bill from anyone.
Bill passes 7-5
SB1530 – School District Empowerment Program – creating – Denney, Ford*
Denney: deregulates public schools like charter schools with a few exceptions.
Kern: I’m for less regulation and more local control one problem I have with the bill is, do we not have a conflict of interest when the same people making the policies are policing the decisions? Denney: the school board is elected by the citizens. More decisions that can be made at the local level, the better. I don’t think there’s a conflict of interest. Kern: we’ve received a lot of emails on this. How do you address the objections? Denney: I’m shocked people don’t trust their school boards. Some things they’re worried about are not in this bill. We’ve kept in place the minimum salary. I think if we let them run the schools, we’ll be surprised with the results – the good results.
Casey: the bill doesn’t scare me, but can you see why people have concerns? Denney: absolutely, it’s the fear of the unknown.
Thomsen: can you give me one thing the legislature has done in the past two years to give teachers confidence that we have their best interests in mind? Denney: I’d have to get back to you on that.
Holland: schools are already choosing to pay more and can continue to do so, right? Denney: that’s right and I talked with one such supt who said of course they’d still pay more.
Shumate: how would this differ – schools at the present time can deregulate themselves – how is that not sufficient? Denney: the senate author wants the total deregulation so school boards can run their district as they see fit.
Kern: do you agree when we had charter school legislation coming, public school officials asked for the same ability? Denney: yes and that’s what led to this.
Bill fails 4-8
SB1624 – Oklahoma high school graduates eligible for in-state tuition – Virgin, Sparks*
Virgin: allows Oklahoma HS grads to get in-state tuition even if they move out of state for a time.
Bill passes unanimously.
SB1797 – Commission for Education, Instruction Quality and Accountability – creating – Denney, Jolley*
Denney: this is the bill where we combine Office of Accountability and Teacher Prep. Nothing is being done away with. Will be under Secretary of Education.
Coody: how will assessment of teachers be different? Denney: it won’t. Teacher Prep will stay the same. I can’t say they won’t change their process in the future, but it will be Teacher Prep that decides that.
J. McDaniel: The board that is being formed, who is doing that now? Denney: The Office of Accountability is currently overseen by the Regents for Higher Ed.
Thomsen: what the Regents have not done that will be accomplished now? Denney: nothing. Teacher Prep has always been on the verge of elimination. This puts them on solid ground to make sure proper tests are being given, etc. It’s my hope this allows them to operate in the manner intended.
Holland: they’re setting test scores rather than the agency that is in charge of testing? Denney: that’s right.
Thomsen: would not passing this affect the NCLB waiver? Denney: no, this has nothing to do with the waiver. Thomsen: is the idea here to get this done and then the other stuff in the 183-pages come later? Denney: we’ve had lots of meetings since that original bill. We decided to let the people who know what they’re doing handle cut scores and teacher prep. I still say so much of the 182-pages was just name changing. We must do that, but this comes from working on it with a lot of input.
Bill passes 7-6 (Speaker Pro Tem Hickman was present and voted yes)
SB1816 – Schools – creating Virtual School Sponsoring Commission – Kern, Stanislawski*
Quinn presenting: amendment says full-time online students can’t participate in OSSAA sports.
Denney: since the committee substitute and amendments were not timely filed, let’s hold off on this until later in the meeting.
(later in the meeting)
Holland: the funding goes to…? Quinn: 5% goes to the State Board of Education.
Committee substitute adopted.
Amendments adopted by unanimous consent.
Kern: it says at any time the student may transfer to or from a virtual school at any time. Couldn’t this become confusing and an administrative headache? Shouldn’t there be a time limit imposed? Quinn: The intent of the bill is to show some accountability. Transfers have to be approved so someone abusing the process can be addressed by the Board.
J. McDaniel: is anyone doing this right now? Will this affect what districts are already doing? Quinn: there’s something in here for districts that already have programs.
Bill passes 10-1 (Holland opposed)
SB1820 – Schools – online pupils weighted for calculation of aid – Denney, Halligan*
Denney: designed to put a weight in the funding formula for students in virtual schools. Since the money follows the child, this is the way to keep the money where the student is being educated.
J. McDaniel: how many students are in online schools? Quinn: in excess of 3,000 McDaniel: are they under the ACE Initiative and required to pass EOI? Denney: yes.
Thomsen: would you believe an argument for virtual school is that they cost less? Denney: you have to take into consideration the technology involved. Perhaps if a school offers virtual classes, they have costs. Thomsen: how many of the virtual school providers will be in-state? Denney: I cannot answer that. I hope we have vendors in-state and use them. I hope some of our teachers become vendors.
Holland: if a child has an IEP, do they still get weighted at the 1.33 level? Joel Robison, SDE: this a request bill for us. Last year there was a change in the counts for virtual students. We’re trying to allocate them an initial percentage and then at the midterm count, the weighted formula is used.
Shumate: do we have any students in virtual schools who are non-residents of the state? Denney: no.
Bill passes 11-1 (Thomsen opposed)
SB1865 – Private vocational schools – requirement for legislative authorization – Denney, Ford*
Denney: they are a non-appropriated agency, but have received cuts. This removes them from the purview to tell them how to spend their money. They’ve been hamstrung from buying computers because they’ve received cuts from the legislature. They have a revolving fund and want to spend it on their agency. They are overseen by a nine-member board.
Bill passes unanimously.
SB1879 – Schools – National Board Certification bonuses – Coody, Ford*
Coody: this changes dramatically what the former bill said. It takes out everything related to performance pay. $14.8M for FY2013 gradually reducing to FY2023. This would allow us to keep our promise to our teachers. All those we have committed to would receive their funds and those who signed up for recertification would receive it for the next 10. Would eliminate the moratorium on new applications and we would pay for that certification. Makes no commitment for future stipends.
Holland: are you aware of my concern that teachers will lose opportunity to renew? Coody: I’m aware of that and we must address that. But we need something to work with now and next year we can address that.
Bill passes 10-1 (Holland opposed)