Anti-Collective Bargaining and School Voucher Bills Slated for Hearings Next Week Week
January 29, 2022
January 29, 2022
On Friday, the House Finance Subcommittee killed three bills that would have allowed localities to put to a voter referendum a 1% local sales and use tax increase to fund school infrastructure (HB63, HB545, and HB531). There were many speakers for the bills from around the state, including the VEA Policy Analyst/Lobbyist, Chad Stewart. All speakers to the bill were in support. Even though many Republicans in leadership have been saying it’s local responsibility to fund school infrastructure this session, they voted against the only bills brought before them to allow localities to tax themselves to pay for it. There’s more work to be done to win desperately needed support for school infrastructure this session, and VEA will be working with partners to call on lawmakers to provide additional state funding in the budget. Watch VEA’s testimony HERE.
HB788 – LaRock; VEA OPPOSES. This bill increases from 65 percent to 75 percent the tax credit for the value of the monetary or marketable securities donation made by a taxpayer to an eligible scholarship foundation.
HB846 – Lopez; VEA SUPPORTS. This bill provides an income tax deduction beginning in taxable year 2022 for the lesser of $500 or the actual purchase price of teaching materials purchased by a teacher and used in teaching Virginia public primary or secondary school students. The deduction may not be claimed if the purchases were reimbursed or claimed as a deduction on the teachers federal income tax return for the taxable year.
HJ31 – VanValkenburg. VEA SUPPORTS. This bill requires the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission to continue its study of the true cost of education in the Commonwealth and its directive to provide an accurate assessment of the costs to implement the Standards of Quality and, in conjunction, to study the efficiency and effectiveness of the at-risk add-on and the composite index of local ability-to-pay funding formula as tools for funding public education at levels that meet or exceed its true cost. The meeting and reporting deadlines in the original study are unaffected by the additional study tasks.
HB294 – Freitas; VEA OPPOSES. Declares eligible for a scholarship from a scholarship foundation that receives an education improvement scholarship tax credit, on the same basis as any other eligible student, eligible students in need of a safer school environment, defined in the bill as any student who, while enrolled in a public elementary or secondary school in kindergarten through grade 12, was the victim of assault, battery, bullying, harassment, hazing, kidnapping, or robbery on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored activity, as substantiated by an investigation and written report by the school principal. The bill provides that(i) eligible students in need of a safer school environment are permitted to use such scholarships to cover the expenses associated with attending another public school within or outside of his school division of residence and (ii) there are no family income restrictions on scholarships for eligible students in need of a safer school environment.
HB440 – VanValkenburg. VEA SUPPORTS. This bill requires each local school board to ensure that each elementary school teacher is provided an average of one 45-minute period per school day of planning time and that each middle and high school teacher is provided an average of one planning period per school day, which shall be at least 45 minutes or one class period, whichever is longer. The bill permits local school boards and teachers to enter into an appropriate contractual arrangement providing for compensation in lieu of such planning time or period. Under current law, public elementary school teachers are guaranteed at least an average of 30 minutes of planning time per school day during a school week.
HB511 – March; VEA OPPOSES. This bill prohibits public schools from joining an organization governing interscholastic programs that does not deem eligible for participation a student who (i) receives home instruction; (ii) has demonstrated evidence of progress for two consecutive academic years; (iii) is in compliance with immunization requirements; (iv) is a person of school age for whom public school is free; (v) has not reached the age of 19 by August 1 of the current academic year; (vi) is an amateur who receives no compensation but participates solely for the educational, physical, mental, and social benefits of the activity; (vii) complies with all disciplinary rules and is subject to all codes of conduct applicable to all public high school athletes; and (viii) complies with all other rules governing awards, all-star games, maximum consecutive semesters of high school enrollment, parental consents, physical examinations, and transfers applicable to all high school athletes. The bill provides that no local school board is required to establish a policy to permit students who receive home instruction to participate in interscholastic programs. The bill permits reasonable fees to be charged to students who receive home instruction to cover the costs of participation in such interscholastic programs, including fees to cover the costs of additional insurance, uniforms, and equipment and fees for facility upkeep and facility maintenance. The bill has an expiration date of July 1, 2027.
HB583 – Roem; VEA SUPPORTS. This bill requires each school board to adopt policies that prohibit the school board or any school board employee from denying a student the opportunity to participate in any extracurricular school activity because the student cannot pay for a meal at school or owes a school meal debt.
HB1022 – Guzman; VEA SUPPORTS. This bill provides that, subject to guidelines established by the Department of Education, any student who is a member of a state-recognized or federally recognized tribal nation that is headquartered in the Commonwealth and who is absent from school to attend such tribal nation’s pow wow gathering shall be granted an excused absence.
HB252 – Simonds; VEA SUPPORTS. This bill requires the Department of Education, in consultation with the Department of General Services, to develop or adopt and maintain a data collection tool to assist each school board to determine the relative age of each public school building in the local school division and the amount of maintenance reserve funds that are necessary to restore each such building. The bill requires each school board to provide to the Department of Education in a timely fashion the local data that is necessary to ensure that such tool remains relevant and useful for the determination of maintenance reserve needs. The bill requires the Department of Education to consider converting or using as a template the Department of General Services’ M-R FIXtool to meet the above requirement to maintain such a tool. This bill is a recommendation of the Commission on School Construction and Modernization.
HB253 – Simonds; VEA SUPPORTS. This bill makes several changes to the provisions relating to loans from the Literary Fund to finance the construction and renovation of public elementary and secondary school buildings in the Commonwealth. The bill requires the Board of Education (the Board) to establish an annual open application process for Literary Fund loans to occur during the period that the Board deems most suitable. The bill increases from $7.5 million to $25 million the maximum Literary Fund loan amount and permits the Board to increase such maximum to up to $35 million for loans for any school construction or renovation project that facilitates the consolidation of schools. The bill requires the Board to establish a competitive program for the award of up to $25,000 to a school division that receives a Literary Fund loan for the purpose of subsidizing all or a portion of the closing costs for such loan. The bill also permits the Board to remove any project that has been inactive for at least five years from any Literary Fund loan project waiting list that it maintains. This bill is a recommendation of the Commission on School Construction and Modernization.
HB319 – Coyner; VEA SUPPORTS. This bill is referred to as the Virginia Literacy Act. The bill makes several changes relating to early student literacy, including requiring (i) each education preparation program offered by a public institution of higher education or private institution of higher education or alternative certification program that provides training for any individual seeking initial licensure with an endorsement in a certain area, including as a reading specialist, to demonstrate mastery of science-based reading research and evidence-based literacy instruction, as such terms are defined in the bill; (ii) the literacy assessment required of individuals seeking initial teacher licensure with endorsements in certain areas to include a rigorous test of science-based reading research and evidence-based literacy instruction; (iii) each school board to establish a divisionwide literacy plan; and (iv) each local school board to provide a program of literacy instruction whereby, among other things, (a) the program provides reading intervention services to students in kindergarten through grade three who demonstrate deficiencies based on their individual performance on the Standards of Learning reading assessment or an early literacy screener provided or approved by the Department of Education; (b) a reading specialist, in collaboration with the teacher of any student who receives such reading intervention services, develops, oversees implementation of, and monitors student progress on a student reading plan; and (c) each student who receives such reading intervention services is assessed utilizing either the early literacy screener provided or approved by the Department or the grade-level reading Standards of Learning assessment again at the end of that school year. The provisions of the bill become effective beginning with the 2024-2025 school year.
HB418 – Delaney; VEA OPPOSES. This bill removes Reading Recovery from the list of programs and initiatives for which school boards may use at-risk add-on funds.
HB419 – Delaney; VEA SUPPORTS. This bill requires each education preparation program offered by a public institution of higher education or private institution of higher education that provides training for any student seeking initial licensure by the Department of Education to (i) include a program of coursework and require all such students to demonstrate mastery in science-based reading research and evidence-based literacy instruction and require such program of coursework and the student mastery required to be demonstrated therein to be consistent with definitions and expectations established by the Board of Education and the Department of Education after consultation with a commission consisting of independent literacy experts and stakeholders with knowledge of science-based reading research and evidence-based literacy instruction that has reviewed the relevant regulations and (ii) for any such student seeking initial licensure by the Department of Education as a teacher with an endorsement in early childhood, elementary education,or special education or with an endorsement as a reading specialist ensure that reading course work and field practice opportunities are a significant focus of the education preparation program. The bill requires the Department of Education to audit at least once every five years each education preparation program for compliance with such requirements.
HB879 – Rasoul; VEA HAS NO POSITION. Requires the nine-member Board of Education, all of whom are appointed by the Governor, to include at least one member with experience or expertise in local government leadership or policymaking, at least one member with experience or expertise in career and technical education, and at least one member with experience or expertise in early childhood education.
S.B. 374 – Obenshain; VEA STRONGLY OPPOSES. This bill repeals certain provisions of the Code that (i) require contractors and subcontractors under any public contract with a state agency or certain localities to pay the prevailing wage rate; (ii) authorize any public body, when engaged in procuring products or services or letting contracts for construction, manufacture, maintenance, or operation of public works, to require bidders to enter into or adhere to project labor agreements on the public works projects; and (iii) authorize a locality to recognize any labor union or other employee association as a bargaining agent of any public officers or employees or to collectively bargain or enter into any collective bargaining contract with any such union or association or its agents.
S.B. 721 – Obenshain; VEA OPPOSES. This bill requires consent by public employees authorized to engage in collective bargaining before union or employee association dues are deducted from the employees’ pay directly by their employers. The bill allows public employees to stop paying union or employee association dues at any time and gives public employees an annual opportunity to reconfirm that they want to continue union or employee association membership and pay such dues. The bill provides that if an employee does not reconfirm then the dues deduction must cease.