Legislative Update, Feb. 16
After the break, this week started out slowly as committees got back to work again. Next week will be busier as bills must pass out of committee before the end of the month to stay alive to meet legislative deadlines.
Keep track of bills using ISTA's bill watch site.
Our focus this week was on Thursday's Senate Appropriations Committee meeting. The committee heard two bills - HB 1001 and HB 1315, both are top priorities for ISTA.
HB 1001 would provide relief for schools facing cutbacks due to a school funding shortfall. We testified in support as efforts in the bill are part of ISTA's legislative agenda. State estimates now show that the shortfall could be as high as $60 million next year. The bill was amended in committee lifting a previous cap on funding relief that would have fell short of providing enough funds to cover the shortfall. HB 1001 passed out of committee,
9 - 0.
HB 1315 aims to hold school districts accountable for becoming fiscally distressed, but wrongly targets teachers and students in its solutions. The bill punishes both Muncie and Gary schools. The committee heard testimony from senators representing both cities, who oppose the bill. ISTA, the president of the Muncie Teachers Association, the mayor of Muncie, parents from Gary and others also testified in opposition. Ball State's president and chairman of the board testified in favor of the bill. Committee Chairman Ryan Mishler (R - Bremen) held the bill and it will likely be taken up again next Thursday.
HB 1315 (Rep. Tim Brown - Crawfordsville) - Loss of Teacher Rights
HB 1315 aims to hold school districts accountable for becoming fiscally distressed, but wrongly targets teachers and students in its solutions. The bill heavily impacts both Muncie and Gary schools.
For a complete review of HB 1315, including its impact on Gary schools, read our blog.
Why you should care
The bill would hand control of Muncie Community Schools over to Ball State University (BSU). BSU would be empowered to appoint a new, unelected school board for Muncie schools. The bill punishes Muncie teachers by stripping them of their right to association recognition, to bargain wage issues, to discuss student learning issues and to work under a teacher contract.
The bill also sets up a framework in Muncie that enables the new appointed school board to waive the application of most every education law impacting student learning.
For all other teachers in the state, the bill would hold classroom teachers responsible for the state of a school districts' finances by specifically calling for the termination of up to five percent of the teacher force by the end of a fall semester, if a district is designated as being in fiscal distress. These actions would no doubt impact student learning, academic goals and increase class sizes right in the middle of a school year.
What you can do
Tell your senator to oppose HB 1315 so long as Muncie teachers and classroom teachers in general are being disrespected and wrongly scapegoated.
HB 1001 (Rep. Sally Siegrist - West Lafayette) - K-12 School Funding
The bill would provide additional funding to schools due to a shortfall caused by an increased number of students enrolling in our traditional public schools.
HB 1398 (Rep. Robert Behning - Indianapolis) - Coalition of School Corporations
This bill creates a new governance model under a pilot that would allow four to eight school corporations, charter schools and/or private schools to form a coalition with business in an undefined geographic region. The bill would eventually allow up to 30 districts to participate in a single coalition. A member school within the coalition could suspend a variety of statutes and rules, including curricular and calendar requirements, teacher licensure requirements, accreditation procedures or any other statutes. Collective bargaining is preserved, but there are other rights that are not.