Update Thursday morning: Upon signing the OSD-Lite bill, Gov. Nathan Deal said: “Georgia remains committed to improving our state’s education system by increasing student access to high-performing schools and learning environments conducive to today’s academic standards. To that end, Rep. Tanner has worked tirelessly with my office, members of the General Assembly and other stakeholders on HB 338. By focusing improvement efforts and education resources on our lowest-performing schools, our most vulnerable students will have greater opportunities for success. The educational investments in this legislation will produce long-term benefits for students, families and communities by ensuring education outcome is not hindered by zip code, but rather enhanced by state support and local accountability. I want to thank Rep. Tanner, members of the General Assembly and many others who worked together for the benefit of Georgia’s current and future students.”
The governor’s pen will be flying Thursday at 9:45 a.m. under the Gold Dome when he signs 10 education bills into law, including an Opportunity School District Lite legislation.
The signing session does not include the controversial campus carry bill that opens Georgia’s public campus to guns. The absence of House Bill 280 on the list doesn’t mean Gov. Nathan Deal isn’t going to sign it, but he’s not doing so Thursday.
Two of the most contentious bills Deal will sign are the OSD-Lite bill, House Bill 338, and the sanctuary campus ban, House bill 37.
Dubbed the First Priority Act, HB 338 provides a method for identifying low-performing schools and establishes a multiyear, multifaceted turnaround plan to assist them. It creates a new state education leader, the chief turnaround officer, to intervene in failing schools.
House Bill 37 would restrict state funds for colleges that violate state and federal law by adopting polices that protect students who are living in the U.S. illegally. HOPE could be taken away from students under the bill, which states: “Such withholding of state funding shall include funds provided to the private postsecondary institution directly as well as funding for scholarships, loans, and grants.”
Deal plans to sign a bill likely to thrill students as it could eventually lead to fewer tests: SB 211 requires the Georgia Board of Education to determine whether nationally recognized tests that students are taking in addition to the mandatory state standardized End of Course Tests, such as the SAT and ACT, measure learning of the same content as the state’s tests.
Some of the other bills on the list to be signed Thursday:
House Bill 139 will require the Georgia Department of Education to collect information on public schools’ spending on salaries, maintenance and other costs and publish it on its website.
HB 224 provides that a military student may attend any school in the local school system.
House Bill 237 would create a $5 million annual tax credit for an “innovation” grant program that prioritizes schools on the target list for turnaround under the First Priority Act.
House Bill 430 calls on state education agencies to establish charter school authorizing standards, and it would mandate hearings for charter schools that are trying to obtain unused school buildings.
SB 186 clarifies language related to the effect of dual credit courses on HOPE scholarship and grant applicability; to provide that students who earned a high school diploma through certain dual credit coursework are eligible for a HOPE grant toward an associate degree.