STATEHOUSE REPORT

 

The General Assembly has adopted the $6.8 billion dollar budget. Highlights for public education include:

$2,220 Base Student Cost

$20.5 million for instructional materials

$4 million for professional development for technology

$10 million for Reading Coaches

$29 million for K-12 Technology Initiative

$2.1 million for increased bandwidth in school districts

$1.5 million for the Rural Teacher Recruitment Initiative

$1.5 million for Summer Reading Camps

$12 million for the Charter School District

$3 million for teacher evaluation system

$8.5 million to modernize vocational equipment

$1.5 million for adult education

Districts will be required to fund at least one teacher salary step increase.

 

The following proviso requested by the Palmetto State Teachers Association was adopted by both the Senate and House of Representatives.

 

Proviso 1.85. (SDE: Teacher Salary Schedule Structure)  The Department o(Educationshall convene stakeholders to include:  Palmetto State Teachers Association. SouthCarolina School Business Officials. South Carolina Association of School Administrators. South Carolina School Boards Association. South Carolina Education Association. and the Education Oversight Committee to examine and make recommendations  regarding changes to the statewide minimum state teacher salary schedule to include extending the steps on the state teacher salary schedule: an

examination o(the  beginning teacher salary: and an examination of each district's salary

schedule structure.  Recommendations  shall be provided to the Chairman o(the  SenateFinance Committee and the Chairman o(the  House Ways and Means Committee byNovember 15. 2015.

 

Passed this session:

 

Senate Bill437 Sen. Campsen and others - This bill requires that beginning of the 2016-

2017 academic year, any entering ninth grader, must take the US Citizenship Civics Test. This provision does not apply to students who are exempted in accordance with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). It states that students making 60 or higher must be rewarded a certificate of achievement from the district.  This exam does not cost the district or school. This bill was signed by the Governor on June 3, 2015.

 

These bills did not pass this session:

 

House Bill 3849 by Rep. Bingham - This bill will exempt personally identifiable information in certain evaluations of public school educators and student teachers from public disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. In the last two hours of session, Senator Thurmond placed his name back on this bill which killed the bill for this session. (It only takes one senator to hold up a bill).                                                                                                                                  ·

Senate  Bill 533 by Sen. Hayes and others - This bill amends the "Teacher Employment and Dismissal Act of 2015" so as to change the deadline to before May 1 for issuing teacher contracts.  It also amends sections relating to notices of dismissal and conduct of related hearings, so as to provide the board may utilize a designee who must be a lawyer admitted to the South Carolina Bar and certified as a mediator in South Carolina. It provides this designee serves on behalf of the board with duties of evidence gathering and determination of admissibility of specific testimony in accordance with the law. The fmal determination in termination is still up to the board. This bill also amends sections relating to the scheduling of teacher dismissal hearings to extend the period for scheduling a hearing to forty-five (45) days, to provide that hearings are quasi-judicial, and to permit the use of hearsay evidence in certain circumstances. It amends the statute to reflect appeals from the board will go to the Administrative Law Court. This bill received a favorable report from the Senate Education Committee. Senator Malloy placed a minority report on the bill and is holding it up on the Senate calendar.

 House Bill 3560 by Rep. Limehouse and others - This bill was amended to conform to Senate  Bill533 in the House Education and Public Works K-12 Committee and passed the House of Representatives. This bill is on the Senate Calendar and Senator Kimpson has placed his name on the bill.

 House Bill3041 by Rep. Delleney and others- This bill will delete the Superintendent of Education from the list of State Officers which the constitution requires to be elected and provide that the Superintendent of Education be appointed by the Governor. This bill will create a referendum on the election ballot if signed into law. This bill was recommitted to the Judiciary Committee.

 Education Policy Review and Reform Task Force

This task force, appointed by House Speaker Jay Lucas, is charged to study ways to improve the state's public schools and prepare them for the 21st Century job market. The task force has held three meetings in Columbia, Dillon, and Due West. The task force has heard from educators, parents, students, and other citizens in South Carolina concerning public education. PSTA Executive Director, Kathy Maness testified at the recent meeting held on June 1, 2015.

 The President Pro Tempore of the Senate formed a special subcommittee in response to the Abbeville case. This subcommittee met on April23rd and heard testimony from Superintendent Spearman on ways to improve public education in rural school districts. The Supreme Court recently ruled that the General Assembly has a deadline of February 1, 2016 to present a proposal to improve public education in South Carolina.

 

Academic Standards Update

On March 9, 2015 the Education Oversight Committee approved the new standards. On March 11, 2015, the State Board of Education unanimously adopted the new English Language Arts and Mathematics standards. These standards will replace the Common Core Standards in South Carolina and will be implemented during the 2015-2016 school year.

 Teacher Evaluation Update

On March 11, 2015, the State Board of Education approved to change the Student Growth component of the new evaluation system from 30% to 20%. This is what PSTA recommended last year. We appreciate the State Board of Education and Department of Education taking this step to make evaluations fair and reliable for all South Carolina public school teachers. The Federal ESSA was signed by President Obama in December and PSTA will be sharing updates as they are made available through the SCDE.