As the Indiana General Assembly finished the first half of its 2014 work at the end of January, Chalkbeat was tracking 43 education-related bills had passed either the House or Senate.
Two more education-related bills — one on guns at school and another on athletic concussions — were added to our list in February. Of those 45 total bills, here’s where we stand today: 14 have been passed by both the House and Senate and are headed to Gov. Mike Pence for his signature, 19 passed the Senate and House and have either been assigned or appear headed to a conference committee and another 12 did not advance and are dead for this session.
Lawmakers have until this Friday, March 14, to iron out the differences between bills passed in the House and Senate and to approve the final versions of any remaining bills.
Here’s a look at where the education bills all stand:
BILLS THAT HAVE PASSED
These bills have passed both the House and Senate, with both houses agreeing on the same version so they will not need to to a conference committee. They only need Gov. Mike Pence’s signature:
- School safety division. Senate Bill 344 would establish a school building safety division within the Indiana Department of Education.
- Complexity index. Senate Bill 363 would make changes to the way school poverty is calculated for some school districts.
- Veterans to teachers. Senate Bill 331 is designed to ease the transition from military service to teaching.
- Voucher special education. Senate Bill 282 would send extra special education funding to private schools when students in special education use vouchers to attend them.
- Allergic reaction injections. Senate Bill 245 allows school districts to keep EpiPens and administer them if needed.
- Charter school accountability. Senate Bill 205 would limit charter school contracts to seven years and requires sponsors to close schools that don’t meet minimum standards. The bill also establishes a means for determining if schools stay in state takeover.
- State fair absences. Senate Bill 114 would allow excused absences from school for children participating in the state fair.
- School resource officers. Senate Bill 85 would allow grants for law officers in schools to be used for training the officers and requires them to be employed by a law enforcement agency.
- Bond refunding. House Bill 1340 would allow for bonds to be refunded when schools consolidate.
- Bus out of service order. House Bill 1303 would provide for additional notifications if a bus is ruled out of service during inspection.
- Student athlete health awareness. House Bill 1290 aims to educate coaches and others of the risks of sudden cardiac arrest for athletes.
- Career and technical diploma. House Bill 1213 would create a new career and technical diploma.
- School transfers. House Bill 1079 would allow the siblings of a student who has transferred from one district to another to have preference for making the same transfer.
- Career and technical education. House Bill 1064 would create a study of the return on investment of career and technical education programs in Indiana.
BILLS THAT ARE STILL IN PROCESS
These bills have passed both the House and Senate, but amendments mean the versions differ. One side of the legislature can agree to the other side’s version. Or the bills can be considered by a conference committee, made up of members of both the House and Senate, to work out the differences. The final versions then must again be passed by the House and Senate. These bills have either already been assigned to a conference committee or are expected to be:
- Common Core. Senate Bill 91 would void Common Core academic standards.
- Tax cap fix. Senate Bill 143 would give districts more flexibility to manage their debt and avoid shortfalls that have resulted from property tax caps in some districts.
- Drop Out Recovery Charter Schools. Senate bill 159 would continue to fund dropout recovery charter schools, which mostly serve adults, separately from the K-12 funding formula. It lifts a restriction against opening new dropout recovery charter schools but also creates a new approval process for them.
- Athletic concussions. Senate Bill 222 is aimed at raising awareness about student athletes who suffer concussions.
- Guns in school parking lots. Senate Bill 229 is a general firearms bill that had language added by an amendment that would allow for guns to be brought to school by licensed owners as long as they remain locked in a vehicle.
- Charter school funding flexibility. Senate Bill 321 would give charter school operators new flexibility to share funds across multiple schools.
- Teacher loan payback. Senate Bill 330 would provide grants to part time college students and offer college loan reimbursement to teachers in high demand fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
- Indiana Knowledge Network. House Bill 1003 would allow education data to be used as part of the state’s workforce development efforts.
- Preschool study. House Bill 1004 once contained a preschool pilot program but it was dropped by the education committee and replaced with a plan to study the issue over the summer. Last week, lawmakers acknowledged there was a possibility the pilot program could be revived in some form during the conference committee debate.
- Drop out recovery charter schools. House Bill 1028 would require a study of dropout recovery charter schools, which mostly serve adults, including how to fund them. The schools prefer to be funded via the K-12 funding formula. State law currently funds them separately and limits and new schools from opening.
- Day care safety. House Bill 1036 would add health, safety, education and training requirements for day care centers that receive federal aid that is administered by the state.
- Tax cap fix. House Bill 1062 is aimed at giving districts more flexibility to manage their debt and avoid shortfalls that have resulted from property tax caps in some districts.
- Charter School compacts. House Bill 1063 would allow districts to trade building space or services to charter schools in return for the ability to count test scores from charter schools in the district averages.
- Career and technical education. House Bill 1181 would make career and technical centers eligible for state grants and special funds.
- Immunity for health issues. House Bill 1204 would give school districts immunity for incidents that arise from student health conditions that were not previously disclosed to the district.
- High ability students. House Bill 1319 would require more reporting from schools about students who score in the high ability range on ISTEP.
- Innovation schools. House Bill 1321 would allow Indianapolis Public Schools to forge unique partnerships with charter schools.
- Allergic reaction injections. House Bill 1323 would allow colleges to keep EpiPens and administer them if needed.
- Teacher preparation program. House Bill 1388 would require teacher education programs to submit data about their graduates to the Indiana Department of Education and establishes a rating system.
BILLS THAT ARE DEAD
These bills did not advance:
- Cursive writing. For the third consecutive year, a bill passed the Senate requiring schools to teach cursive handwriting, and for the third straight year it died without a vote in the House on Senate Bill 113.
- Teacher choice program. Senate Bill 264 would have made highly rated teachers who took jobs at D- or F-rated traditional public or charter schools eligible for extra pay.
- Various education matters. Senate bill 284 included several education provisions, mostly dealing with issues of unions and their contracts.
- School bus safety. House Bill 1042 would have allowed traffic cameras on school buses.
- Athletic participation. House bill 1047 would have allowed virtual charter school students to participate in sports at their local public school districts.
- Teacher preparation program. Senate Bill 204 would have required teacher education programs to submit data about their graduates to the Indiana Department of Education and establishes a rating system. A similar bill, House Bill 1388, passed the House and Senate and is headed to a conference committee.
- Music curriculum. Senate Bill 276 would have required schools to assure music is part of the curriculum, including ensembles.
- School bus driver physicals. Senate Bill 278 would have required school bus drivers to undergo physical exams.
- Winter holiday traditions. Aimed at protecting Christmas traditions, Senate Bill 326 would have permitted schools to teach about winter holidays and use holiday symbols.
- Expanded background checks. House Bill 1233 would have required school employees receive an expanded background check every five years. It was defeated in a floor vote by the Senate, 24-23.