11 Ari­zona ed­u­ca­tion bills to watch

Ma­jor pro­pos­als in­clude fund­ing, teacher bonuses

The Arizona Republic - - Front Page - Lily Al­tavena

Al­most a year af­ter the #RedForEd walk­out, state law­mak­ers con­tinue to face im­mense pres­sure from ed­u­ca­tors and par­ents to im­prove Ari­zona’s pub­lic schools.

Just this week, new state Su­per­in­ten­dent Kathy Hoff­man sum­ma­rized her pri­or­i­ties at the state Capi­tol, which in­clude more fund­ing and char­ter school re­form.

Leg­is­la­tors spent the first month of this year’s ses­sion in­tro­duc­ing a flurry of ed­u­ca­tion bills. Many won’t make it to the first step to­ward be­com­ing law — a pub­lic com­mit­tee hear­ing and vote. But some have.

Those pro­pos­als in­clude re­viv­ing a spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion fund, re­peal­ing a law that bans “pro­mot­ing ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity” in schools, and leg­is­la­tion that would al­low school of­fi­cials to give chil­dren med­i­ca­tion in an emer­gency.

Most of these bills have been ap­proved by a com­mit­tee, and are await-

ing a vote of the full House or Sen­ate.

Giv­ing kids med­i­ca­tion in an emer­gency

Sen­ate Bill 1026 would al­low dis­trict and char­ter schools to ad­min­is­ter pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tion in an emer­gency with­out par­ent or guardian per­mis­sion. If passed, a school em­ployee could give a child an EpiPen in­jec­tion for al­ler­gies, Nalox­one in the case of an opi­oid over­dose or in­haler for asthma at­tacks.

Ari­zona law cur­rently only al­lows pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tion to be given to a child at school with au­tho­riza­tion from a par­ent or guardian.

Phoenix Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal is among the bill’s sup­port­ers.

Spon­sor: Sen. Heather Carter, R-Cave Creek.

Sta­tus: Passed Sen­ate, ad­vances to the House.

Re­peal­ing so-called ‘No promo homo’ law

In her 2019 State of Ed­u­ca­tion speech to law­mak­ers, Hoff­man called for leg­is­la­tors to re­peal what she called the state’s “no promo homo” law, which she said­bans some AIDS ed­u­ca­tion be­cause it “pro­motes a ho­mo­sex­ual lifestyle.”

Democrats have in­tro­duced bills for years to over­turn the law, but Repub­li­can lead­er­ship never put them up for a vote. This year, Sen. Martin Quezada, D-Phoenix, in­tro­duced a re­peal, SB 1415. It was only re­cently re­ferred to the Sen­ate Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mit­tee, but that does not mean it will get a hear­ing.

Spon­sor: Sen. Martin Quezada, DPhoenix.

Sta­tus: Re­ferred to Sen­ate Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mit­tee.

Decrease ed­u­ca­tion rollover

House Bill 2187 would sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce the ed­u­ca­tion “rollover” by more than $630 mil­lion. The rollover rep­re­sents ba­sic state aid pay­ments to schools de­ferred by a year, a bud­get­ing tech­nique used dur­ing the Great Re­ces­sion. The K-12 rollover stands at about $930 mil­lion.

“All it is is an ac­count­ing prob­lem,” Chris Kot­ter­man, Di­rec­tor of Gov­ern­men­tal Re­la­tions at the Ari­zona School Boards As­so­ci­a­tion, said.

Kot­ter­man said the rollover has lit­tle to no im­pact on ac­tual school fund­ing, but added that pay­ing the rollover down now would be help­ful if law­mak­ers needed to use that bud­get mech­a­nism in fu­ture eco­nomic down­turns.

The $630 mil­lion, how­ever, would eat up a sig­nif­i­cant chunk of the bud­get sur­plus pro­jected for this year, es­ti­mated to be about $1 bil­lion, set­ting up a po­ten­tial bat­tle with Gov. Doug Ducey. He wants to put most of it in the state’s rainy day fund and has said stash­ing the money away will put Ari­zona in a bet­ter po­si­tion for a fu­ture re­ces­sion.

Spon­sor: Rep. Michelle Udall, R-Mesa.

Sta­tus: Passed house ed­u­ca­tion and ap­pro­pri­a­tions com­mit­tees; await­ing a vote of the full House.

Ex­tra­or­di­nary spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion needs fund

SB 1230 amends the state’s grant fund­ing for schools with ex­tra­or­di­nary spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion needs, a fund that has re­mained un­used for years with lit­tle fund­ing des­ig­nated from law­mak­ers.

The fund was orig­i­nally es­tab­lished by the Leg­is­la­ture for schools to ap­ply for money to pro­vide for stu­dents who demon­strate an ex­tra­or­di­nary need for spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion ser­vices. The bill out­lines a school’s el­i­gi­bil­ity for the grants based on the stu­dents served.

Spon­sor: Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake.

Sta­tus: Passed Sen­ate Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mit­tee,but still needs a hear­ing in Sen­ate Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee be­fore ad­vanc­ing to a vote of the full Sen­ate.

Fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy course

SB 1184 would add a half-credit per­sonal fi­nance course to the state’s high school grad­u­a­tion re­quire­ments. The course would in­clude fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy and per­sonal fi­nan­cial man­age­ment.

The pro­posal has sup­port from the Ari­zona So­ci­ety of Cer­ti­fied Pub­lic Ac­coun­tants, the state trea­surer’s of­fice and the Ari­zona Bankers As­so­ci­a­tion, among oth­ers.

Spon­sor: Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake.

Sta­tus: Passed Sen­ate Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mit­tee; await­ing a vote of the full Sen­ate.

Putting an ed­u­ca­tion tax on the bal­lot

SB 1080 and an ad­join­ing res­o­lu­tion would ask vot­ers in 2020 to in­crease the ed­u­ca­tion sales tax rate to one penny, from its cur­rent 0.6 cents. The in­tent is to raise about $400 mil­lion more an­nu­ally for Ari­zona K-12 schools and higher ed­u­ca­tion.

The plan would also change how the fund­ing is di­rected to uni­ver­si­ties, com­mu­nity col­leges, K-12 dis­tricts and char­ters, cre­at­ing three “buck­ets” for the money to re­place the ten that cur­rently ex­ist.

Ed­u­ca­tion lead­ers have said they were happy that law­mak­ers started the ses­sion dis­cussing ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing, but that the pro­posal was “woe­fully in­ad­e­quate” in help­ing to re­store fund­ing to pre-re­ces­sion lev­els.

Spon­sor: Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake.

Sta­tus: Passed Sen­ate Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mit­tee; await­ing a vote of the full Sen­ate.

Teacher bonuses for AP scores

HB 2176 would change a state pro­gram that awards teach­ers bonus money based on the num­ber of stu­dents in their class who pass a qual­i­fy­ing exam for col­lege credit. The pro­posal re­quires the money to go to ed­u­ca­tors who pre­vi­ously taught the stu­dent in rel­e­vant cour­ses lead­ing up to their Ad­vanced Place­ment course, not just the AP teacher.

Last year teach­ers split $3.8 mil­lion in bonuses, but some school lead­ers pointed out that the bonuses had ed­u­ca­tors clam­or­ing to teach AP cour­ses and has some teach­ers feel­ing left out. The pro­gram awards $450 to teach­ers per pass­ing score for low-in­come schools and $300 to teach­ers per pass­ing score in all other schools.

Spon­sor: Rep. Jeff Weninger, R-Chandler.

Sta­tus: Passed House Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mit­tee; await­ing a vote of the full House.

More flex­i­bil­ity for in­struct­ing English learn­ers

SB 1014 would over­haul how Ari­zona schools are re­quired to teach English lan­guage learn­ers, in­clud­ing chang­ing the much-de­bated stip­u­la­tion that ELL stu­dents be taught a min­i­mum of four hours of English lan­guage de­vel­op­ment per day to about two hours of min­i­mum in­struc­tion.

Very sim­i­lar leg­is­la­tion wound through the Leg­is­la­ture last year, but died dur­ing #RedForEd as law­mak­ers scram­bled to pass a bud­get.

The leg­is­la­tion has been cham­pi­oned by var­i­ous ed­u­ca­tion ad­vo­cacy groups, which have long said the state’s frame­work for teach­ing ELL stu­dents has proven in­ef­fec­tive. Ari­zona has one of the na­tion’s low­est grad­u­a­tion rates for stu­dents who are English lan­guage learn­ers.

A sim­i­lar bill, HB 2184, is mak­ing its way through the House.

Spon­sor: Sen. Paul Boyer, R-Phoenix. Sta­tus: Passed Sen­ate.

Ju­ve­nile de­ten­tion cen­ter ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams

SB 1104 in­creases the amount of fund­ing for ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams at county ju­ve­nile de­ten­tion cen­ters to at least $100,000 each, from $20,000. Six ru­ral coun­ties have such pro­grams, ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion from the state Sen­ate.

Other coun­ties pro­vide pro­grams through ex­ist­ing schools.

The pro­gram was es­tab­lished in 1994 to help im­prove ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams for in­car­cer­ated chil­dren, Me­gan Kint­ner, with the Ari­zona As­so­ci­a­tion of Coun­ties, told the Sen­ate Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mit­tee.

Danna Gal­lardo, ed­u­ca­tion di­rec­tor at the Santa Cruz County Ju­ve­nile De­ten­tion Cen­ter, told the com­mit­tee that it’s hard to an­tic­i­pate how many stu­dents she’ll have on any given day in her one­room school­house in No­gales.

“Some of my stu­dents don’t even know how to sub­tract,” she said. Adding later, “It’s quite an in­ter­est­ing feat to take care of all these kids along with all the emo­tional prob­lems they have.”

She said the bill would likely add some­one to help her with the pro­gram.

Spon­sor: Sen. Heather Carter, R-Cave Creek.

Sta­tus: Passed Sen­ate Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mit­tee; await­ing a vote of the full Sen­ate.

In­ves­ti­gat­ing teacher con­duct

SB 1020 would al­low the Ari­zona Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion to share im­moral or un­pro­fes­sional con­duct in­ves­ti­ga­tion records of cer­ti­fied teach­ers with schools or school dis­tricts where the teacher has ap­plied. The records would still be con­fi­den­tial and not sub­ject to pub­lic records law.

This wouldn’t ap­ply to all teach­ers. State law does not re­quire char­ter school teach­ers to be cer­ti­fied.

The Ari­zona School Ad­min­is­tra­tors As­so­ci­a­tion and Mesa Pub­lic Schools sup­port the bill.

Spon­sor: Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake.

Sta­tus: Passed Sen­ate; moves to the


Full-day kinder­garten sur­vey

HB 2083 would re­quire the Ari­zona Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion to ask school dis­tricts and char­ter schools how many hours of kinder­garten in­struc­tion per day they pro­vide at each school, how the dis­trict or char­ter funds full-day kinder­garten, and read­ing pro­fi­ciency lev­els of chil­dren in kinder­garten, first grade and third grade.

The sur­vey would largely help the state un­der­stand whether Kinder­garten pro­grams in the state are ef­fec­tive and gauge who is of­fer­ing what. The state cur­rently doesn’t fund full-day kinder­garten.

A sim­i­lar bill, SB 1066, is mov­ing through the Sen­ate.

Spon­sor: Rep. Leo Bi­a­suicci, R-Lake Havasu City.

Sta­tus: Passed House Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mit­tee; await­ing a vote of the full Sen­ate.

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