Oklahoma house crams education bills on deadline
BY RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Friday, March 15, 2013
3/15/13 at 7:53 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY - A fistful of education bills - including two that would give school districts more flexibility in dealing with state mandates and another that creates a task force to study the controversial A-F school grading system - limboed under the deadline for House passage.
Thursday was the so-called Third Reading Deadline - the final day for legislation originating in the House of Representatives to be voted on in the House - and lawmakers ground through more than 40 pieces of legislation in one day.
Those of note included House Bill 2131, by Rep. Jeff Hickman, R-Dacoma, and HB 2087, by Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City. Both are so-called "deregulation" bills that would grant districts the same exemptions from state regulations as charter schools. The districts would still have to meet most personnel-related mandates, including minimum pay, benefits and teaching credentials.
Hickman's bill would transition all districts into the opt-out system over a five-year period, although districts could choose to continue meeting some or all state requirements. Nelson's bill would make the process entirely voluntary.
Hickman's bill passed 87-9, while Nelson's passed 75-19.
Also passed was HB 2044 by Rep. Katie Henke, R-Tulsa. Her bill would establish a task force to review the state A-F grading system that has created an uproar in common education circles. The formula used to determine the grades was panned by a research group of University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University experts and has been bitterly criticized even by superintendents whose schools scored well.
The 15-member task force would be chaired by the state secretary of education, currently Phyllis Hudecki.
Other school bills passed Thursday included:
Other legislation surviving the deadline included:
- HB 1880, by Rep. Ann Coody, R-Lawton, which would modify the national board certified teacher program. The current $5,000 annual bonus paid on an "as-available" basis would be reduced to $1,250 but would become a permanent part of the pay scale so that it counts toward retirement income. The state would also resume paying the full cost of the board certification training and testing - about $3,000.
- HB 1100, by Rep. Arthur Hulbert, R-Muskogee, which would ban the Legislature from enacting new school mandates without adequate funding.
- HB 1661, by Rep. Lee Denney, R-Cushing, which would expand the definition of harassment, intimidation and bullying to include electronic communications and long-term patterns of behavior. The bill passed 69-19, with some opposition coming from members who said it would make schools responsible for actions that occur outside of school time and off school property.
- HB 1623, by Rep. Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, which would require schools to develop suicide prevention and drug abuse reporting policies and the Department of Mental Health to provide related training at no cost to the schools.
Original Print Headline: House crams education bills on deadline
- HB 1794, by Rep. Mike Christian, R-Oklahoma City, which would provide for $1,000 stipends for most state employees at a one-time cost of $34 million. State employees have not had a cost-of-living adjustment in six years.
- HB 2145, by Hickman, which would authorize a $7.3 million pay raise for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
- HB 1252, by Rep. Lewis Moore, R-Arcadia, which would establish a task force on federal funds accepted by the state.
- HB 2020, by Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy, which would bar public officials or state money from advocating for any type of gun control. Republicans succeeded in tabling a Democratic amendment extending the ban to any position on gun-related issues.
Randy Krehbiel 918-581-8365