Palmetto State Teachers Association

STATEHOUSE REPORT

 

The first session of the 122nd South Carolina General Assembly began on January 8, 2019. PSTA is working hard to make sure public education takes priority during this session.

The Senate Finance Committee completed work on their version of the budget on April 4th. The full Senate will debate the budget during the week of April 15th

If you would like to watch the debate next week in the Senate, visit www.scstatehouse.gov and click on "Senate" underneath the "Chamber" Video section. 

The following items are locked because they are in both the Senate and House versions of the budget.

-        Beginning teacher salary increased to $35,000

-        Combined Base Student Cost and Fringe Benefit lines and added the teacher salary

-        An average 6% - 10% salary increase for teachers with 0-4 years’ experience

-        An average 4% salary increase for teachers with 5-23+ years’ experience

  • 0-4 years had to have higher percentages to make sure the salaries on those cells are higher than the new beginning teacher salary of $35,000.
  • PSTA has asked for a 10% across the board increase for all educators. We will continue to advocate for that.

-        $4.2 million for the required 1% retirement contribution increase

-        $20 million for instructional materials

-        $19 million for the lease and purchase of school buses

-        $10 million for School Resource Officers

Here are some of the current differences in the Senate and House versions of the budget.

 

-        The House did not add any additional funds to the BSC. The Senate added $15 million which equates to approximately a $17 increase per student.

-        The House allocated $85 million to the Department of Commerce for infrastructure improvements and job recruitment in rural areas. The Senate allocated $50 million for job recruitment and infrastructure improvements to include school facilities in counties with school districts that have 86% poverty.

-        The House approved a proviso (1.90) to hold school districts harmless from the Fiscal Accountability Act if a district uses its reserve funds to help pay for teacher pay increases. The Senate amended the proviso to specify that districts can be held harmless if there is not an increase in state support through the EFA and if a district must use their reserve funds to pay for teacher pay raises as determined by the SCDE.

-        The House deleted proviso (117.148) language requiring the transfer of school district career and technology centers to the State Tech Board but retained the transfer of adult education programs to State Tech Board. The Senate deleted the remaining adult education portion of the proviso.

-        The House added a proviso (108.16) to allow state retirees to return to work and be exempt from the $10,000 earnings cap after a 12-month break in employment. The Senate deleted the proviso. During the meeting, the Senate agreed to a hearing on House bill 3620 that would allow state retirees to return to work.

-        The House adopted a proviso (1A.83) that would have all districts to use digital programs as makeup days. The Senate amended the proviso to maintain the program as a pilot, not expanding the option to all school districts.

-        The House adopted a proviso (118.15) to give each taxpayer a $50 rebate. The Senate amended the proviso to state the payment would be made per tax return, not the taxpayer. A $50 rebate check would be mailed by December 2nd. The funds for this rebate are from the $61.4 million the state received from the claiming of the Mega Millions jackpot. The cost of administering the rebate is $700,000.

 

Bills to watch:

 

House Bill 3759 by Reps. Lucas and others: This bill is called the South Carolina Career Opportunity and Access for All Act. This bill will provide a statewide college and career readiness goal by 2030. The House of Representatives gave third reading to the bill and it now heads to the Senate. Highlights from amendments made are the following:

 

-        Adds language that the goal of the bill is consistent with the Profile of the SC Graduate

-        Zero to Twenty Committee has been changed to (SCORE) Special Council on Revitalizing Education

-        Adds the Teacher Bill of Rights

-        30-minute planning period for teachers

-        Provides for a study committee to review classroom sizes

-        The term of the student member to the State Board of Education is reduced from two to one year.

-        South Carolina Teacher of the Year is added as a non-voting member

-        The term Education Tsar is replaced with Executive Director

-        At least two teachers must be appointed to the Committee

-        Deletes the United States History end of course examination

-        Clarifies the use of literacy screeners should be given more than once in grades kindergarten through third if, and only if, the student demonstrates deficiencies

-        Read to Succeed Amendments:

  • Require districts provide appropriate in-class intervention until all students are at grade level.
  • Teacher observations are reinstated along with screenings and diagnostic assessments.
  • Parental appeal of retention is reinstated.
  • The requirement that reading coaches are employed in each elementary school is reinstated.
  • Professional development required for compliance with Read to Succeed must be offered at no cost to districts and teachers.

-        Removes the ability for traditional public schools to have up to 25% of their teaching faculty be non-certified.

-        The pay band study required of the State Department of Education is deleted.

-        When the Superintendent decides to reconstitute an unsatisfactory school, the requirement that all school employees must be dismissed is removed. Instead, the Superintendent has the authority to hire and fire personnel.

 

Senate Bill 419 by Senators Hembree and others: This bill is similar to House Bill 3759. This bill is in the Senate Education K-12 Subcommittee. The subcommittee is taking their time and debating chunks of the bill each week. The bill was amended on February 20th to remove the section asking the State Board of Education to adopt a model code of ethics for local school boards. The subcommittee heard testimony on the Read to Succeed sections of the bill on February 27th and sections affecting teachers on March 6th. Some amendments to the Senate bill include:

 

-        Deletes the Student Bill of Rights and the Zero to Twenty Committee

-        Beginning in 2021, the Education and Economic Development Act Coordinating Council, the State Superintendent of Education, and the State Board of Education will provide a comprehensive report that identifies benchmarks within the 0-20 education and workforce pipeline.

-        Mandates that computer science be taught in all schools

-        Deletes social studies assessments in grades 3-8 and the 8th grade science assessment

-        Deletes language specifying that screenings must be done at midyear and at the end of the school year and that SCDE, contingent upon funding from the General Assembly, shall reimburse districts for the cost of the screening instruments.

-        Expands the requirement to offer summer reading camps to students enrolled in first and second grade as an intervention.

-        Requires district to report annually on the total number of retention exemptions granted, the number of appeals made and granted, and the academic outcomes of these students in grades 4-8.

-        Provides flexibility in the use of its allocation for reading coaches to include but not be limited to reading coach, literacy interventionist, or other supplemental services. However, the plan must be approved by SCDE annually.

-        Changes the timeline and number of courses required for Read to Succeed Literacy Teacher certification endorsement. The endorsement must be received within five years and teachers are required to take one course or equivalent professional development hours. Reimbursement for these courses can be made by SCDE if funds are provided for that purpose by the General Assembly.

-        Deletes the requirement for middle and secondary classroom teachers to take a course or the equivalent professional development hours within 5 years of their most recent certification.

-        Specifies that educators who are not employed with a school district or who are employed by the district and whose responsibilities do not include classroom instruction would not be required to receive the literacy endorsement unless the educator reenters the classroom.

-        Specifies that a teacher candidate must successfully pass a test on reading instruction and intervention. Those candidates not passing the testing requirement must complete the requirements for a literacy endorsement as a prerequisite for completing induction.

-        Allows teachers already certified the option of utilizing the test to exempt course requirements.

-        Deletes a $2,000 income tax credit or a taxpayer who employs a public school teacher.

-        Deletes free college tuition for children of teachers teaching in unsatisfactory schools for at least 3 of the previous years.

 

House Bill 3620 by Reps. Pope and others: Removes the pay limitation for all state retirees who certify that he has not been engaged to perform services for the participating employer in the state system for compensation as an employee, independent contractor, leased employee, joint employee for other classification of worker for a period of at least 12 consecutive months subsequent to retirement. The bill received a third reading in the House and is in the Finance Retirement Systems Subcommittee. Kathy Maness testified in favor of this bill during public testimony on April 10th.

 

House Bill 168 by Senators Hembree and others: This is joint resolution mandates that the State Department of Education will develop recommendations for reducing and streamlining the amount of paperwork and reporting requirements of teachers, schools, and school districts. Director of Governmental Affairs, Craig King testified in support of this bill. The bill received third reading in the House and as enrolled for ratification on February 13, 2019.