Legislative and Policy News Galore
What a doozy June has been! Under the threat of a Special Session, the Legislature remained dramatic until the very end, with a budget finally being passed on June 6th. While perhaps not as sweeping as last year's changes, this year's education-related legislation will still greatly impact charter schools. Just as we did last year, LAPCS has prepared a 2013 Legislative Update presentation. This PowerPoint summarizes this year's legislative changes and the general responsibilities charters will have to be in compliance (this handout should also be helpful). More detailed information as it relates to implementation will be disseminated as it becomes available. As always, if there are questions, do not hesitate to contact Veronica at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The drama didn't end at the Capitol. Tuesday's BESE committee meetings were also scenes to behold-though, perhaps a horror movie scene would be more fitting. BESE took approximately 13 hours to discuss a variety of issues including Compass, the RSD, and the state's contract with Teach for America.
Regarding Compass, Superintendent White suggested that districts should have more flexibility to design their own evaluation systems and presented this presentation on how that could potentially happen in the future. The usual suspects, including the unions and Lee Barrios, came to the table to accuse the LDE of not being trustworthy and not understanding the needs of educators.
During the School Innovation and Turnaround Committee (SIT), the bulk of the conversation was dominated by Landry alumni who showed up in full force to protest what they feel is the "takeover" of L.B. Landry High School by O.P. Walker. While current Landry and Walker students seem to be taking the merger in stride, adults "representing" Landry continued to protest the "takeover" as being disrespectful to the legacy of the school. While BESE board members were understanding and aware of the history of the school, most felt that under the leadership of Mary Laurie, OPW's principal, the new school had an opportunity to begin a new legacy by becoming one of the best schools in the state. Still, there were several board members including Kira Orange Jones who opposed the plan. Gov. Jindal's appointee Dr. Judy Miranti of New Orleans actually offered a motion to stop the merger. The motion failed 4-6, and the original motion (to continue with the merger and accept a related report) passed 6-4.
SIT also heard an interesting debate on a plan that would allow children in Claiborne Parish to continue attending school in Junction City, Arkansas. For the past 90 years, Claiborne Parish had allowed for this arrangement but suddenly reneged for next school year. Under the new, temporary arrangement, the students will be enrolled instead at Delhi Charter School, a Type 2 charter located in Richland Parish, who would then contract with Junction City, AR school district to educate the students, but take Louisiana accountability exams.
Later in the night, the Finance Committee took up the state's contract with Teach for America. The same two board members who seemingly oppose all education reform related issues were the only two BESE members to vote against the contract (with Dr. Lottie Beebe publicly shaming another BESE member, Ms. Holly Boffy, for supporting Teach for America), but unlike last time, there was little public opposition. In fact, more than 40 people submitted testimony cards in support of TFA. Several students gave incredibly powerful testimonies concerning their learning experiences with some phenomenal TFA teachers, and one principal spoke of how he'd semi-jokingly have to shut down his school if it was not for Teach for America.
Other BESE Items of Note:
- After the East Baton Rouge School Board decision to transfer a number of students from high-performing schools into low-performing schools in an effort to prevent takeover by the Recovery School District, Superintendent White criticized the exchanges. BESE member, Carolyn Hill, touted the strategy, claiming that it is within EBR's rights to do so and that school districts should avoid RSD takeover by any means necessary. Conversely, BESE President, Chas Roemer, argued that EBR "gamed the system" and that changes to the school grading system should be considered to disincentivize such tactics.
- Responding to criticism of the LDE's data sharing contracts, Superintendent White shared this presentation, explaining how and what student data is collected. In addition, BESE agreed to create a task force to monitor and advise them regarding student information issues.
- 2013 Grant Allocations
- BESE approved the creation of an MFP Task Force to deliver recommendations regarding the formula and its implementation for FY 2014-15 and beyond. The board will consist of 15 members who will be nominated by the BESE President and approved by the BESE board.
New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board Update
Some of you may have recently received a "memo bill" from the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board. La R.S. 33:4096 and 33:4121 set out requirements for billing public schools for water and sewerage. Billing was temporarily ceased post-Hurricane Katrina, but the Board is currently reviewing and updating all public school account data to re-implement billing. Effective July 1, 2013, bi-annual bills will be produced. Each school facility will be allotted the use of 4 gallons per day per student and staff member (based on October 1st count). For more information, please read this SWBNO memo. LAPCS will continue to monitor this situation and keep you informed.
As always, if you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.
The LAPCS Team