Things have started to heat back up on the Government Relations front. Here’s what we’re looking at so far:
The committee to study violence in schools has concluded and issued their report. We engaged very heavily with this committee. Special thanks to Rachel Hawkinson and Esther Dickinson for their integral help in making this a successful study committee for us! In summary the committee is acknowledging both the seriousness of the issue with educators being assaulted as well as the need for changes. In the short term they are recommending statutory fixes that we suggested to them which will take the form of a new piece of legislation. Here are some of the key actions the committee will be asking for:
- Requiring Joint Loss Management committees to establish procedures around responding and preventing violence against educators from students
- Requiring that communication and training to staff be a part of this
- Establishing new protective language to prevent the discouragement of reporting injury
- Establishing procedures and penalties under the safe school zones act around school districts who fail to report
- You can read the report which goes to the Governor, Speaker of the House and the Senate President here.
Fighting against Attacks on Public Education
Learn Everywhere – Following the action of JLCAR issuing a final objection on 3 counts about learn everywhere, there will be a joint resolution which will be submitted to the legislature which objects to the key components of the program. That resolution will go through the legislative process next year and in the meantime, learn everywhere cannot go forward until the fate of that resolution is decided. We will have a few advocacy points next year during public hearings and when it comes up for a vote.
There are also 2 bills that will be dealing with this issues as well. One is a house bill which is a repeat of SB 140 which would have made crystal clear the authority of local school boards to grant credits. The other is a bill put in at our request in the senate which would clarify the local school credit granting authority, but also require assistance from the state board and department be given to school districts with potential extended learning programs (more on this in future update).
Federal DOE Charter Grant – We are monitoring the extraordinarily large $46 million charter school grant awarded to NH by the federal DOE. The next steps for this grant is that the first $10 million installment must be accepted by both the Joint Fiscal Committee of the legislature and the Governor and Council. Those questions will be put before them this month. NEA-NH and our partners have many questions about the accountability, transparency and efficacy of this grant which we are bringing before both Fiscal and the Council.
Important Commissions with NEA-NH member representation that are just getting going include the Commission on Teacher Preparation (Maxine Mosley is our appointee) and a Commission on Mental Health Education Programs, Behavioral Health and Wellness Programs (Stephanie Edwards is our appointee).
Education funding commission is working on populating itself and there will be more to come on this.
There is a shortfall in state special ed funding to school districts of over $2 million that was talked about in the state budget. This is mostly due to updated figures coming in from the DOE which were short of funding expectations during the budget process. House Education committee has voted to place an agenda item at the next state board meeting asking that they seek to close the shortfall by asking for the gap from the legislature. You may hear about this from your school districts.
Preparing for a New Session
Senate filing period has closed and we will be working on putting together a list of bills we will be watching and engaging on as we get more information. Thus far we know about 772 bills that have been filed and I expect there are another 100 we do not know about yet. Currently we only have titles for bills unless it is one we have been working on directly. There will be an additional filing period for those study committees like our school violence one that have recommended statute changes.