January 16, 2014

 


HB 1004 (Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis)

HB1004 passed the House on 3rd reading today with a vote of 87-9. The bill would provide vouchers for up to 1,000 Indiana children to attend an early education program.

 

ISTA supports early education. However, there are some concerns with the bill. ISTA opposes the K-12 voucher component and the diversion of public tax dollars to fund private pre-K programs.

 

The better approach would be to house early education programs in existing public schools. The program should target low-income families, and the 185 percent of poverty standard is too expansive. The Department of Education should also play a role in administering the program rather than the Division of Family Services.

 

Stay tuned as ISTA continues to track HB 1004.

 

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HB 1063 (Rep. Todd Huston, R-Fishers)

HB1063 was heard on 2nd reading today in the House. The bill provides that a charter school and school corporation could enter into a compact under which the school corporation or charter provides services, goods or facilities to the other party.

 

ISTA testified in opposition to the language as drafted in the original bill. ISTA had concerns that “services” could include educators, which could open up issues with bargaining and teacher contracts.

 

Rep. Huston assured ISTA that the intent was never to interfere with bargaining and teacher contracts and worked with ISTA to amend the bill to address these concerns. The amendment clarifies that bargaining and an employee’s employment status with the school district will not be impacted by any compact between a charter and school corporation. The amendment passed and the bill moves on to 3rd reading next week.

 

Please thank Rep. Huston for his willingness to work together to improve this legislation.

 

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HB1056, 1064 and 1047 were heard this morning by the House Education Committee

 

HB 1056 (Rep. Bob Cherry, R-Greenfield; Rep. Gerry Torr, R-Carmel; Rep. Terry Goodin, D-Crothersville)

This bill provides that a school corporation or nonpublic school shall authorize excused absences for attendance or participation in the state fair for up to five days. A similar bill is moving in the Senate.

 

ISTA supports the concept of allowing students to participate in the state fair, which is a long-standing tradition in Indiana. There are educational opportunities at the state fair that are beneficial to students.  Rep. Kreg Battles (D-Vincennes) proposed an amendment to limit the provision to students in good academic standing. The committee intends to address these issues and vote on the bill at a later meeting.

 

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HB 1064 (Rep. Wendy McNamara, R-Mount Vernon):

This bill requires the Indiana Career Council to complete a return on investment study of career and technical education programs by November 1, 2014.

 

We believe it would be beneficial for the state to also conduct a return on investment study on the voucher program in the future.

 

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HB 1047 (Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour; Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis):

This bill would allow a student who attends a charter school to participate in athletics at a high school that is a member of an athletic association if the high school is within the legal settlement of the student.

 

The bill was held until next week. However, ISTA voiced some concerns with the bill and will testify in opposition:

  • It could increase the extracurricular activity costs for public schools. Who bears the cost burden? This is charter school favoritism.
  • It allows students at charters to pick and choose services (cafeteria schooling). Public school students do not have this option. Again, charter school favoritism.
  • Charter proponents always talk about school choice. Parents and students accept the services offered by a school when they make the choice to enroll. Now they want additional exceptions.
  • It could lead to inappropriate recruitment of athletes.
  • It could potentially take away opportunities for existing students.