Here are a few bills entering the Arizona State House and Senate Education Committee hearings this week.
Let’s start out with something good this week! HCR2001 would waive Arizona’s Aggregate Expenditure Limit for one year. If this bill does not pass, Arizona Public School Districts could be on the hook for nearly $1.4 billion, forcing them to cut about 17% of their budget in the fourth quarter of this school year. This would result in major program cuts, layoffs, and, even worse, potential school closures. Scheduled for the House Education Committee on Tuesday, January 31st.
Co-Sponsor: Bliss, Carter, Chaplik, Griffin, Heap, Hendrix, Livingston, Marshall, McGarr, Peña, Smith, Carroll, Wadsack
Introduced for a third year in a row with similar language, HB2458 would ban teaching “controversial topics” in schools. This is a direct attack on public schools and teachers, with the threat of losing their teaching certificates and school penalties of up to $5,000. In addition, the Advanced Placement (AP) program will not recognize schools or courses that ban certain topics that this ban would apply to. Scheduled for the House Education Committee on Tuesday, Jan 31st.
HB2456 would continue to allow the Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind to continue providing services to students who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing, or deafblind. Scheduled for the House Education Committee on Tuesday, Jan 31st.
Co-sponsors: Kaiser, Shope
SB1183 appropriates $3 million from the general fund in the fiscal year 2024 to the Arizona Commerce Authority to administer a grant program to cultivate STEM learning and workforce development opportunities in rural and semi-rural areas. Scheduled for the Senate Education Committee on Thursday, February 2nd.
SB1185 would remove the limit on the number of nonresident foreign students in exchange programs with J-1 visas. This would allow governing boards to admit additional students without tuition payment and obtain state funding for the students. Scheduled for the Senate Education Committee on Thursday, February 2nd.
SB1205 requires school districts to give enrollment preference to children who are in foster care and requires the district to reserve capacity for children who are in foster care. It requires that within five days of entering foster care or if a child’s placement changes, the child’s caseworker, primary caregiver, representatives from the child’s school of origin, and representatives from the child’s potential new educational institution determine which educational placement is in the child’s best interest, prioritizing the child’s unique needs. Scheduled for the Senate Education Committee on Thursday, February 2nd.
SB1208 will authorize an alternative school within a school district or an alternative charter school that is not an Arizona Online Instruction provider to offer a dropout recovery program. Scheduled for the SEnate Education Committee on Thursday, February 2nd.
Co-Sponsor: Alston, Bennett, Kerr
SB1289 authorizes any school district governing board to construct or provide housing facilities for teachers and other school employees, exempting them following outlined voter approval requirements. This is an expansion from a program currently available only to rural districts. The exemption allows governing boards to circumvent voter approval to enter into a lease or lease-purchase agreement for a period between 20 and 99 years for school buildings or grounds. Scheduled for the Senate Education Committee on Thursday, February 2nd.