Georgia Legislature “Crossover Day” Summary

Thursday, March 7, was the deadline to move bills from the Senate to the House and vice versa. However, legislation that failed to “cross over” may still pass by riding on other education-related bills before the session ends on April 2. Here is a wrap up of what may affect our families.

  • Look up HERE for Senate Bill that has has crossed to the House
  • Look up HERE for House Bill that has has crossed to the Senate
  • Also contact committee members linked under each bill.

 


SB48 passed the Senate Unanimously

Today at the Georgia Capitol, the Senate passed SB48, which will mandate screening for all Georgia students Pre-K – 2nd grade! Thanks to all the hard work by groups such as Decoding Dyslexia-Georgia and International Dyslexia Association-Georgia Chapter.

This will help dyslexic students get identified sooner so that intervention can begin sooner, which will increase the chance of a child achieving full reading potential sooner. Screening such as this (had it existed) may have identified many of our students, allowing them to obtain appropriate instruction sooner.

The bill now crosses over to the House, where it has to go through two committees and then be voted on by the full House.

Let your Representatives know you support this bill  (look up HERE), and also contact committee members.

Here’s the House Education Committee List of Representatives:
Jasperse, Rick, Chairman
Cheokas, Mike, Vice Chairman
Benton, Tommy, Secretary
Belton, Dave, Member
Cantrell, Wes, Member 
Carter, Doreen
, Member
Dickerson, Pam, Member
England, Terry, Member

Evans, Becky, Member
Glanton, Mike, Member
Hill, Dewayne, Member
Howard, Henry “Wayne”, Member
Jones, Jan, Member
Jones, Todd, Member
LaRiccia, Dominic, Member
Lopez Romero, Brenda, Member
Nguyen, Bee, Member
Nix, Randy, Member
Paris, Miriam, Member
Setzler, Ed, Member
Stovall, Valencia, Member
Tanner, Kevin, Member
Wilson, Matthew, Member

 

Guest Columnist: Jan Murphy

Augusta, GA (February 16, 2019) – One of our parents, Jan Murphy, was featured as a guest columnist in the Augusta Chronicle with her column titled “This scholarship helped my family, and here’s how to improve it”.

In her column, she outlines her struggle with finding a school that would educate her daughters, and how that struggle led her to Brookwood Christian and Georgia’s Special Needs Scholarship (SB10).

“I remember those hard days: standing at the bus stop with my daughters, telling them that all we had to do was make it through one more year. If you don’t fit into the box, you fall through the cracks. And my daughters were quickly slipping through the cracks.

“We started exploring private school options, but tuition was beyond our means. That’s when we learned about the Special Needs Scholarship Program, which enables children with special needs who have attended public school for at least one year to transfer to another school (private, traditional public, or charter) that better fits their needs.

“Thankfully, my children qualified, enabling them to attend Brookwood Christian School in Acworth, a school with the type of student-to-teacher ratio that my girls need to truly excel. I’ll never forget the day one of my daughters came to me and said, “I don’t think I ever want to leave this school. Everyone here has a disability – and it’s no big deal.””

Jan then goes on give details of the history of the scholarship as well as her ideas for improvement. Thanks for telling your story, shining a light on the scholarship, and for speaking so well of us. 🙂

Read more about the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship HERE.

Full Article:  “This scholarship helped my family, and here’s how to improve it”, Augusta Chronicle, (02/16/2019)


HB 301 Introduced this Week

Georgia HB 301 was introduced into legislation this week by floor leader Jodi Lott-R (District 122).

This bill would allow parents to use state funds in a manner similar to “vouchers” in other states. Students are eligible if they were enrolled in a Georgia public school the year prior to enrolling in private school. This requirement would not apply to groups such as low-income families, the learning disabled or victims of bullying.

The funding would be similar to that of SB10 (Georgia Special Needs Scholarship), the state portion the local school district gets per student, which averages approximately 54 percent of the total when federal and local dollars are included.

Professional organizations such as the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE), oppose this bill claiming that it will “peel away the easiest students to educate” while dismissing the fact that so many students that will be using it are like those attending schools like ours because they were NOT being adequately served. Many of these students are currently receiving funds from SB10 and the Tax Credit Scholarship, which they also oppose. This bill would help families not eligible for SB10, and possibly offer additional support to those who do receive SB10 funds.

Let your legislators know you support this bill  (look up HERE)  and reach out to the bill authors:

Primary Author:  Cantrell, Wes 22nd

Co-Authors
Lott, Jodi 122nd, Governor’s Floor Leader
Fleming, Barry 121st
Stephens, Ron 164th
Gravley, Micah 67th
Harrell, Brett 106th

Source: “K-12 “scholarship” legislation would pay Ga. parents for private school“. Atlanta Journal & Constitution, (02/14/2019)


Dyslexia Day at the Capitol Update

Update from the Capitol yesterday:

♦ There seems to be a lot of bipartisan support for SB48, which will mandate screening for all Georgia students Pre-K – 2nd grade. This will help dyslexic students get identified sooner so that intervention can begin sooner, which will increase the chance of a child achieving full reading potential sooner.

There is a public meeting of the Senate Education and Youth Committee in Room 307 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building today where this bill is on the agenda. There is still time to reach out to your senators (look up HERE) and even representatives, and it heads to the House next.  You can watch the proceedings HERE at 2PM.

Senator P.K. Martin, IV is chair of this committee and the other committee members can be found HERE.

♦ It appears that SB139 from last Spring Session did NOT pass but rather got caught up in politics during the last few days of the legislative session.

Section 2 (lines 60-81) of this bill would have amended the SB10 rules so that students returning to public school, non SB10 private schools, or homeschool, would NOT have to return to public school for an entire year in order to get SB10 should they return to Brookwood, or another SB10 accepting private school.

HOWEVER, this is still on the list to include in legislation. We will be following closely and keep you updated. When we have the new bill number we will let you know so you can reach out to your legislators. If you wish to follow this more closely yourself, we suggest joining the Facebook Group Supporting Georgia’s Special Needs Scholarship.

♦ As Brookwood Christian is the only school that serves dyslexia in district 35, we were fortunate to be able to have a lengthy conversation with Representative Ed Setzler in his office about the above bills as well as other matters concerning our students. Representative Setzler is very supportive of our school and what we do, and supports both of the above bills when they get to the House.

♦ We were also able to, along with the leaders at other dyslexia schools, reach out and talk to other advocates for dyslexia including groups such as Decoding Dyslexia-Georgia and International Dyslexia Association-Georgia Chapter.

♦ We plan to begin working more closely with both of those organizations, as well as others that will benefit our families, to offer informative workshops and seminars for our parents at Brookwood, now that we have adequate space to do so!

♦ We are in the process of beginning a closed Facebook group exclusively for our school’s families so that you all may ask questions and share information, and we can easily share things too. We will let you know when that is up and running.

We are fortunate to have such supportive families and a wonderful staff that we can take the time to do this. We plan to continue such advocacy for our families and we thank all of you, our local community, and our elected officials that support us.


SEYC public meeting regarding SB48

Tomorrow, 2/13/2019, in a public meeting of the Senate Education and Youth Committee in Room 307 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building at the Georgia State Capitol, SB 48 will be under consideration:

To amend Title 20 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to education, so as to
provide for identification of and support for students in pre-kindergarten through second
grade with dyslexia

Early identification will greatly increase the effectiveness of any programs we use. If you’re able to attend, get there a few minutes early to sign up for public comment to express your support for Mandatory Early Screening.

They need to hear from us! If you’re not able to make it in person, the meeting will be broadcast live, CLICK HERE TO WATCH.

Please contact your senator (look up HERE) to ask that they support this bill, by reaching out via email, social media, or calling.

Also feel free to contact the committee members:

Committee Members

Wilkinson, John, Vice Chairman
Brass, Matt, Ex-Officio
Tippins, Lindsey, Ex-Officio
Black, Ellis, Member
Stone, Jesse, Member

Possible changes to GSNS (SB10)

EDIT: It appears this information is from last spring, was shared yesterday, and when we saw it, didn’t pay attention to original date :-/  We are researching this to find out if it passed or what parts did, and will keep you updated when we find out. We apologize for any confusion.

========================================
Tomorrow is the last day of the Georgia legislative session.

Section 2, lines 60-81 of SB139 (text of bill HERE) includes language that would allow students who qualify for the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship (SB10) to not have to “re-qualify” by completing another year of public school if their families try an alternative option such as returning to public school, homeschooling, or attending another private school that does not accept scholarship.

Currently, the student would have to complete another entire year of public school if you want to use the scholarship in the future.

Contact your state house and senate representatives TONIGHT to voice your support for the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship language in SB139! You can look up your legislator HERE.

 

HB 217 Passed – APOGEE Cap increased!

We just received this email from APOGEE!!

Please take a moment to thank your representatives as well as those listed below.  More details on the scholarship can be found here.


“We have VERY exciting news to share!  Assuming Governor Deal signs the bill (which we fully expect), the Tax credit cap will be increased from $58 million to $100 million for the next 10 years starting in 2019.  After the 10 year mark, the cap would be reduced back to $58 million.
There will be an assessment of the program and its effectiveness in saving the state money and providing opportunities to families at the 5 year mark. With the expectation that the results will be in our favor, we could possibly expect an even more favorable result legislatively at that point.
The bill also includes some moderate fee reductions for SSO’s and improves the SSO reporting process.
We would like to take a moment to thank Representative John Carson. Without Rep Carson, the tax credit cap expansion bill would never have come to fruition.  Rep Carson expended a great deal of time, energy, and political capital to get this bill across the finish line in a format that was favorable to all of us in the program.  There will thousands of additional children who will directly benefit from the work done to accomplish this monumental task.
If you would like to personally thank Rep. Carson for his tremendous work on the expansion of the tax credit program, he can be reached at 
Another key player in the expansion of the program was Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, who supported the larger cap increase to take place immediately rather than the proposed escalator.  Casey Cagle’s role in the Senate was vital to the success of the bill.  
Words of appreciation can be sent to casey.cagle@senate.ga.gov.  
We are extremely excited for the long overdue expansion to the program and for the tremendous impact this expansion will have on providing educational opportunities for Georgia families.
We are thankful for your response to our legislative alert.  It is always refreshing to see our legislative body react favorably to the support of a bill we have all been working towards for such a long time.”

HB801 proposed changes to GSNS (SB10)

HB801 was filed yesterday by Representative Scott Hilton. This legislation would:

  • give flexibility in how scholarship funds are spent,
  • change the scholarship calculation from the October to the March FTE count,
  • make special needs preschool count towards the one year,
  • give an exemption from the one year for children adopted from foster care,
  • ensure that if you participate in the scholarship, you never have to meet the one year requirement again!

Check it out at this link http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislati…/…/display/20172018/HB/801.