With the current
Duneland Schools referendum set to expire in 2019, the Duneland School Board
is watching what state lawmakers are proposing this year that would affect
There are about 75
pieces of legislation moving through the Indiana Statehouse and Senate
related to public school education, according to Duneland School Board
member John Marshall who discussed six specific bills at Monday’s school
Marshall is the
board’s legislative liaison and delegate to the Indiana School Boards
Association. Each meeting, he reports on proposed laws or actions by
lawmakers that could affect Duneland Schools.
Two of the bills
Marshall mentioned are aimed at school referendums, mainly about their time
frame and when school districts can hold elections for them.
House Bill 1038, if
passed as is, would decree that any referendum passed after June 30 this
year may not impose a levy for more than eight years. The current limit is
seven years like the one Duneland has now.
Marshall said an
eight year limit would prevent school corporations from holding special
elections in non-election years. One other thing the bill would do is allow
schools to use their facilities to promote supporting a referendum, he said.
The other bill, HB
1043, deals with the referendum and remonstrance process.
Marshall said that
if a referendum for a schools district should fail, the bill states that the
district would have to wait 700 days, roughly two years, before it can be
tried again instead of the current law which requires at least 350 days.
However, HB 1043 says that if 500 residents or five percent of the voting
population within the school district sign a petition within 15 days after
the failed referendum, the 700-day limit would be shortened to 350 days.
In HB 1043 School
Corporations would have to conduct at least two public hearings on a
resolution for a referendum instead of one as under current law.
that the ISBA is in support of the bill.
Voters in the
Duneland School Corporation passed a referendum in favor of increasing their
property tax levy rate by 22 cents per $100 of assessed valuation in 2012.
The referendum fund supplements the general fund and tax-levied funds
impacted by the state tax caps and supports a variety of school programs.
about four senate bills. SB 35, authored by Sen. Jon Ford, R-Terre Haute,
and Sen. Dennis Krause, R-Auburn, passed on first reading and deals with
teacher evaluations. Marshall said that school corporations would be able to
use “objective measures of student achievement” as part of their teacher
evaluations. School corporations would be able to decide if student
standardized test scores should be included in evaluations. Currently, test
scores must be included in evaluations.
Marshall said the
new Every Student Succeeds Act passed by the U.S. Congress allows states to
decouple student performance matrices from teacher evaluations.
SB 86 would require
that school corporations and accredited non-public elementary schools
include cursive handwriting in the teaching curriculum. Marshall said that
ISBA believes that adding a cursive writing curriculum should be left up to
individual school corporations.
Next, SB 87 would
add that it be a requirement that each public school and accredited
non-public school issue letter grades on report cards for grades 3 through
12. Some schools use the Likert Scale, some use teacher narratives and some
use letter grades, Marshall said, and the ISBA believes it is better left to
local schools to decide what kinds of report cards are used.
one last bill, SB 108, which would eliminate the need for the Indiana
Department of Education to publish model compensation plans as well as
eliminating the need for each school corporation to submit their local
compensation plans to the department or publish local compensation plans on
the DOE’s website.
All bills mentioned
passed out of first reading but they can still be changed, even
substantially, before they even get to the full floor in the House of
Representatives or the Senate for a vote.
After they pass
their respective houses, the other can make changes before their members
vote on it.
“These bills as
they go through different readings are going to have things added to them
and stricken from them. I have never seen one of these bills come out
exactly as it went in,” Marshall said. “And so, I will try to stay on top
with at least these six.”
The deadline to
file bills in the House was Jan. 10 and Jan. 12 in the Senate. The 2017
Legislative session is scheduled to conclude on April 27.