House Education Committee Advances Several Bills Feb 6

The House Education Committee had a full agenda with ten bills on Monday, February 6.

Among them, HB 306 allows the State Board to create flexibility in administrative rules to allow small schools without enough parents who are not also employed by the district, to fill seats on the school community council. The Board estimates this flexibility would be needed by only 10-15 schools statewide. Policy and Research Director Jay Blain represents UEA on the school trust lands committee that recommended this policy change. UEA supports the bill. The bill passed out of committee unanimously.

HB 163 ensures a student participating in athletics cannot be prohibited from wearing religious clothing. Bill sponsor Rep. Pierucci stated the goal is that a student will not have to choose between participating in sports and their religious or personal beliefs. She also noted the legislation would apply to sports organizations renting public school facilities. UEA supports the bill. The bill passed unanimously.

HB 124 would add speech-language pathologists and audiologists to the existing Teacher Salary Supplement Program. The estimated cost to add these educators to the program would be about $4.7 million. UEA supports the bill if new money is appropriated so the existing funds are not diluted. The bill passed unanimously.

HB 82 requires LEAs to provide notice to parents when schools hold assemblies on prevention programs or education equity topics and then provide parents with resources at home on the same topic. Questions were raised about the lack of definition of “resources” and “notice” that must be provided and the bill sponsor stated this is purposeful to allow flexibility for LEAs to interpret. UEA has a position of Local Issue on the bill, meaning locally elected school boards are best suited to set this type of policy. The bill passed 9-5.