Flurry of education bills filed in early days of legislative session

Most will likely not survive till end of 40-day session



ATLANTA – Taxes, school security and mandatory attendance appeared to be the focus of lawmakers on the education landscape in the opening days of the 2013 legislative session.

But if past history is any judge, only a few of the bills up for consideration will likely be considered seriously as lawmakers move through the 40-day session.

A few education bills to watch in the coming weeks include:

House Bill 9 – One of several bills seeking to change the mandatory ages for school attendance. This bill requires school attendance for all students between the ages of 5 and 17, unless they successfully complete all requirements for a high school diploma. Current law requires attendance from age 5 to 16.

HB 11 – Requires the local school system to develop guidelines to supervise children under age 8 as they get on and off school buses.

HB 13 – Seeks to abolish the Tax Credit Scholarship Program, which is designed to provide scholarships at private schools.

HB 15 – Requires additional reporting, training and so on to deal with bullying in schools.

HB 17 – Creates a “farm to school” program to encourage local school systems to buy food products from Georgia farmers.

HB 23 – Requires all schools to have carbon monoxide detectors and provide for periodic inspection.

HB 26 – Removes schools from the list of places where guns cannot be carried, along with other currently restricted areas including parks and recreational areas.

HB 35 – Permits local boards of education to allow designated school administrators, after being “trained,” to carry weapons on school campuses.

HB 48 – The “Return to Play Act,” first introduced last year, would require a medical professional to determine when a youth can return to participating in a sport activity after sustaining a concussion. It would apply to all youth sports in public and private schools, as well as community leagues like ALTA, Little League and so on.

HB 54 – (Equivalent bill is Senate Bill 59) – Reduces the HOPE eligibility requirement from 3.0 to 2.0.

HB 70 – Would permit the State Board of Education to waive the requirement that a student attend a public school for a year before qualifying for a special needs voucher to a private school.

HB 123 – The “Parent Trigger Bill” would allow a majority of parents to vote to petition the local board of education to become a charter school if the school is considered a low achieving school, is in a system that has lost its accreditation or is on probation. The petition would have to be approved by the local school board.

SB 21 – Raises mandatory age for school attendance to 17.

SB 22 – Would change the date for determining school eligibility from Sept. 1 to Dec. 1.

SB 42 – Would require all the education austerity cuts (dating from 2002) to be fully restored.

SB 43 – Would require pre-K to be 180 days. (Gov. Nathan Deal has already provided funding for 180 days, so this is likely a moot issue this year.)

SB 57 – Would change the age of mandatory attendance to 5 rather than 6, making kindergarten mandatory.

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