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10 new education laws effective July 1
06/27/2017

More than 30 new education laws signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb will go into effect on Saturday. Below are the top 10 new laws ISTA would like to highlight as having the most impact on public schools.

SEA 30 - Student School Information
This bill requires the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) to annually publish the name of each eligible voucher school in the area of legal settlement, and the number of students from the district enrolled in an eligible voucher school each semester. The IDOE must post the information on its website.

This bill provides greater transparency and useful information to school districts about voucher enrollment.

SEA 248 - Consolidation of School Corporations
SEA 248 allows the consolidation of school districts. It enables consolidating districts to keep their respective debt (accrued pre-consolidation), which is a change in consolidation statutes. The bill enables each district to retain their school name and attendance areas. It also permits the consolidation to apply to administrative functions only.

SEA 337 - Study of Ethnic History
Requires each school district, charter school and other eligible school to offer an elective course each year on ethnic and racial groups as part of the high school curriculum. The course may be offered through a course access provider through IDOE.

SEA 409 - Collective Bargaining
The bill changes collective bargaining dates to begin Sept. 15 (instead of Aug. 1) and adjusts other dates so that both parties have better estimates of Average Daily Membership (ADM) counts and insurance premiums. ISTA requested this bill and believes it will provide better information for bargaining units and administrators to negotiate agreements.

This bill was included in ISTA's original legislative agenda.

SEA 498 - Teacher Compensation
The bill restores master's degree compensation after a misinterpretation by IEERB, which previously stated teachers should only receive a pay increase for the first year after they "attained" their master's degree.

The bill clarifies that a teacher with a master's degree receives pay increases for "possession" of the degree. The bill also clarifies reciprocity language making it easier for out-of-state teachers to come to Indiana. 

This bill was included in ISTA's original legislative agenda.

HEA 1007 - Education Course Access Program
This bill creates a course-by-course voucher program to enable students to enroll and pay for online courses funded by the student's public school. In effect, the operation of this bill would force school districts to contract educational services at a parent's or student's request. 

IDOE is given the power to develop the catalogue of courses available under the program.  

ISTA strongly opposed this bill, but supporters convinced lawmakers that this authorization would somehow help smaller school districts. We will continue to monitor the development of the program by the IDOE.

HEA 1079 - School Employment and Teacher Licensure
This bill adds provisions dealing with background checks that apply to school districts, charter schools and non-public schools. 

It requires a school employee to undergo an expanded criminal history background check including a Child Protection Index (CPI) check every five years. The employee bears the cost of the check unless the school district, charter or non-public school assumes the cost.

HEA 1382 - Charter Schools
The bill makes numerous changes to charter school accountability, and while laudable in this endeavor, the bill does not go far enough to protect both kids and taxpayers.

ISTA was instrumental in amending the bill to prevent Indiana's Charter School Board from hiring additional staff at taxpayer expense. ISTA also succeeded in requiring financial disclosure and conflicts of interest statements to be filed for local charter board members.

Unfortunately, the bill enables 90 percent of charter school teachers to be licensed under "any license or permit," which effectively means that individuals who hold a substitute teacher license will be considered within the 90 percent of licensed or permitted teachers employed in charter schools.

ISTA believes that all students, in all schools, should have teachers adequately prepared with pedagogy and appropriate training to be in classrooms teaching children. Any less preparation diminishes the value of a license.

HEA 1430 - Suicide Awareness Prevention
After June 30, 2018, each school corporation, charter school and accredited non-public school shall require all teachers and may require other school employees in third grade through 12th to undergo training in suicide prevention once every three years.

The bill makes clear that any mandated training must be done during school hours or at a time amenable to the employee.

HEA 1537 - Thirteenth Check
This bill would provide a 13th check in 2017 and 2018 for certain retired members of the Indiana state teachers' fund and other public employee retirement plan participants.

This bill was included in ISTA's original legislative agenda.

For a more detailed look at these new laws and others passed this year, check out our 2017 Legislative Review.