Education – All-Bill Summary 2020

All bills assigned to the Senate Education Committee, passed by the Legislature and sent to the Governor for her signature in 2020.

SF 2082 – Department of Education Clean Up bill

SF 2082 is the Iowa Department of Education’s technical code clean up. Main components of the bill include:

  1. Language clean up related to how shared-time and part-time pupils from private schools who are enrolled in public schools to access classes or services are counted for enrollment.
  2. The term “agency fund,” describing a fund maintained by a school district, is replaced with the term “custodial fund.”
  3. Open enrollment requests for special needs students clarification. Currently, a receiving school district only needs to grant the open enrollment request of a child requiring special education if the district maintains a special education program appropriate to meet the child’s educational needs and such enrollment would not cause the appropriate class to exceed the maximum class size. The bill clarifies that the enrollment of the child must not cause the caseload to exceed the maximum caseload in that special education program, and there must be sufficient classroom space in the general education classes to which the child would be assigned.
    [2/6: 48-0 (Excused: Whiting, Zaun)]

SF 2118 – Rural Physician Loan Repayment Fixes

SF 2118 adds new language to allow refinancing student loans as private loans, while maintaining eligibility for loan repayment through Iowa’s Rural Physician Loan Repayment Program. The appropriations maximum award and timeframe still apply. The bill allows the same refinancing allowances to the Health Care Professional Recruitment Program and the Health Care Loan Repayment Program. The amendment also makes the refinancing allowance retroactive to January 2019.
[2/26: 49-0 (Excused: R. Taylor)]

SF 2142 – SSA/Categorical School Funding with Property Tax

SF 2142 is a compromise between House and Senate Republican to increase PreK-12 basic funding for the next school year by 2.3%, which amounts to an additional $86 million for schools. It is below the Governor’s recommendation and the House’s original proposal. Democrats offered an amendment to increase funding by 3%, which would have provided an additional $133 million, but Republicans rejected it. 
[3/4: 31-17, party line (Excused: Rozenboom, Wahls)]

SF 2164 – Per-pupil and transportation equity

SF 2164 addresses the school aid state cost per pupil (SCPP) versus the district cost per pupil (DCPP) and transportation equity.

The per-pupil equity provides an additional $10 per student for some school districts on top of the state supplemental aid for the upcoming budget year. This equates to an additional $5.9 million for schools in FY21.

It is estimated that 195 school districts will receive additional funding, of which 177 will see the full $10 increase to their state cost per pupil. This is new money for those schools. 

The rest of the school districts will get a small property tax decrease, because $10 of their current DCPP will be paid for by additional state dollars. These districts won’t see “new” money under this portion of this bill.

With this bill, the difference in SCPP and DCPP is a maximum of $155. Five districts are at that amount.

The transportation equity portion of the bill provides an additional $7.3 million to the Transportation Equity Fund for a total of $26 million in FY 21. This builds upon last year’s $19 million investment. If a school district exceeds the statewide transportation cost per pupil, it will receive a payment. An estimated 204 school districts will receive funding to buy them down to the statewide average in FY21.

With this bill, all schools will be at the statewide transportation per pupil average. In addition, the bill directs transportation funding to grow by the Categorical SSA percentage starting in FY21. This means an additional $400,000 will be generated through the school aid formula and the cost for FY21 SSA will increase by that $400,000. Since all schools are now at statewide average, that $400,000 will be divided between all schools.
[2/10: 48-0 (Excused: Nunn, T. Taylor)]

SF 2261 – Tele-med option for school location services

SF 2261 outlines the process for a school to implement voluntary behavioral health screenings either in person or through the use of telehealth. No student can be screened without the written consent of a parent/guardian. Parents must be notified of the results of the screening, and the results may be sent to a primary doctor. The mental health professional providing services in schools does not need to consult with the child’s primary care doctor prior to services being initiated. Schools must provide a secure, confidential and private room, and the technology necessary to deliver such services. Mental health providers must provide a way for the student’s parent/guardian to participate in the session. The school cannot have access to or handle any of the student’s medical records related to the provision of telehealth mental health services. A public school, AEA or nonpublic school may serve as a site of service for purposes of private insurance reimbursement. The first meeting of certain approved telehealth services may be completely online.
[6/5: 50-0]

SF 2284 – Board of Regents technical and regulatory cleanup bill

SF 2284 modifies various regulations for the Board of Regents, including:

  • Changes gifts and grants reporting from monthly to quarterly.
  • Eliminates the Iowa Telecommunications and Technology Commission waiver request requirement, which would put the universities into the same category of users as private colleges and nonpublic schools.
  • Updates Iowa’s open meetings law to allow the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics to go into closed meetings (as other public hospital boards do) when discussing patient care quality, process improvement initiatives, or marketing and pricing strategies.
  • Eliminates outdated Regents Resource Center language and updates continuous improvement language.
    [6/11: 49-0]

SF 2310 – Online Learning and Covid-19 Requirements

SF 2310 restructures online learning programming in Code and outlines new online programming offered by Area Education Agencies (AEAs), which plan to provide the same online offerings for less money and be self-sufficient in two years. After Covid recess, the Legislature modified the bill to provide more guidance for the required online learning that will be part of school districts’ “Return to Learn” plans for the fall.

The bill allows federal funds to go toward developing the AEA platform in partnership with school districts and accredited nonpublic schools. Federal funds may also be used to offset costs to school districts for participation in the program. Return-to-Learn plans must contain provisions for in-person instruction, which is the preferred method of instruction for core courses, including that it be rigorous, high-quality, aligned with the Iowa core and core content requirements.

Changes to Offer and Teach: Current law allows any two core subjects to be taught online only after a good-faith effort is made to hire a teacher. The bill adds up to two additional courses for a school district or accredited nonpublic school that proves to the satisfaction of the department they made every reasonable effort, but are unable to meet the requirements of “offer and teach.” The bill then allows three additional courses of World Language, Financial Literacy and Computer Science to be offered online, if they have shown they have made a good faith effort to hire a teacher. 

Instructional Time for Online Learning, including inclement weather: The Governor is allowing schools to start the upcoming school year earlier than August 23. An extended school year will cost more. The bill allows a school district to use their professional development dollars for the 2020-21 school year for extended instructional time. If used under this provision, the 36-hour requirement for professional development will be reduced by the same number of hours of additional instructional time.

School Closure and Social Distancing: The bill authorizes school districts to close due to a Covid-19 outbreak. They are encouraged to follow CDC guidelines and consult with the local board of health in determining social distancing guidelines. In implementing social distancing policies, school districts and accredited nonpublic schools should prioritize core academic subjects for in-person teaching.

Instructional Time Requirements and Online Learning Supports to Students: A school district or authorities under a nonpublic school, cannot waive minimum school day requirements. If a school is going to provide online instruction, it must have appropriate support staff to assist students.

Truancy Regarding Online Learning: Any student that does not participate in online learning through the school district or nonpublic school due to Covid-19 is considered truant. This provision does not apply to home-schooled students.

Statewide Assessment: The Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress is waived for the 2019-20 school year due to Covid-19.

CPR Certification Waived: The requirement that a student complete a CPR course to graduate is waived if the school district or accredited nonpublic school closes.
[6/13: 49-0 (Excused: Hogg)]

SF 2356 – Dyslexia expanded support services

SF 2356 requires the State Board of Education to establish procedures for approving practitioner preparation programs that offer an advanced dyslexia specialist endorsement by July 2022. The Department must maintain a dyslexia consultant to provide technical guidance and assistance. Subject to an appropriation, each AEA must maintain a dyslexia specialist. An Iowa Dyslexia Board will oversee implementation of dyslexia instruction in Iowa and make recommendations for continued improvement. The bill expands the definition of dyslexia used to determine what schools must provide to students who are persistently at risk in reading at grade level. Finally, the bill requires K-3, Title 1 and ELL teachers to complete the Iowa Reading Research Center dyslexia overview module by July 1, 2024.
[6/11: 49-0 (Excused: Hogg)]

SF 2360 – Classroom Management and Therapeutic Classrooms

SF 2360 addresses concerns from some parents and teachers regarding at-need students and the increased use of “room clears” in response to violent behavior. In a room clear, students are evacuated from the classroom while a violent or disruptive child remains in the classroom. The bill has these main components:

  • Teacher Training and Preparation: Provides $500,000 starting in 2021-22 school year for educators to receive additional training to manage classroom disruptions, address student behavior and use the least restrictive environment. 
  • Therapeutic Classroom Funding: Therapeutic classrooms provide smaller classes, intensive help, and short-term breaks to help students reset and develop new coping strategies before reentering their regular classroom.
    • Provides $1,582,650 starting in 2021-22 school year for grants for districts and community mental health agencies to help students with violent behavior. Schools may collaborate and apply for a regional therapeutic classroom model. The Iowa Department of Education estimates the funding will cover 150 seats.
    • An additional $500,000 starting in 2022-23 school year will reimburse schools for transportation costs to a regional therapeutic classroom. Grants will help establish therapeutic classrooms for one to five pupils, classrooms with six to 10 pupils, and classrooms with 11 to 15 pupils.
  • Classroom Clear Requirements: Provides statewide expectations for clearing a classroom when a student behaves violently, and increases the requirements for school communication with parents of all children affected by a room clear.
  • Data Collection: Establishes data reporting to track incidents of violence or assault by students, in compliance with federal special education and data privacy laws, and to track key student demographic information to identify overuse or patterns that have a disproportionate racial, gender or social-economic impact.
    [6/11: 48-1 (No: Celsi; Excused: Hogg)]

HF 2340 – College Savings Iowa Used for Out- of-State Private K-12 Schools

HF 2340 permits an Iowa Educational Savings Plan (529 Plans) for students requiring special education to be used to attend out-of-state elementary or secondary schools. Current Iowa law allows tax-free withdrawals from Iowa accounts for elementary and secondary tuition expenses, but the educational institution must be in Iowa. This bill would allow the same tax avoidance to students requiring special education attending qualified schools out of state. The expansion of the income tax exemption is estimated to reduce General Fund revenue by $175,000 in FY21 through FY24, and $145,000 in succeeding fiscal years.
[6/3: 49-0 (Excused: Hogg)]

HF 2359 – Praxis I Entrance Exam into Teaching would be an Option, not Mandate

HF 2359 allows an institute of higher learning the option to administer the Praxis 1 (or other exam), or not to administer any entrance exam, before granting admission to its College of Education. With fewer college students choosing to go into education, and the continued challenge of attracting and retaining a diverse teaching force, eliminating unnecessary barriers to entry into the profession is a priority for a variety of K12 education entities and higher education institutions.
[6/10: 49-0 (Excused: Bisignano)]

HF 2418 – BEDS Reports Allowed to be Corrected

HF 2418 says that if a school district requests the Department of Education to review information contained in a BEDS (Basic Education Data Survey) submission and the director finds an error relating to licensure of a practitioner, they must notify the Board of Educational Examiners (BOEE). BOEE will initiate corrective action. The bill includes a waiver for four school districts that missed the deadline to submit their requests for modified allowable growth for their dropout prevention programs.
[6/10: 49-0 (Excused: Bisignano)]

HF 2443 – Eligibility requirements and assessments for the senior year plus program

HF 2443 removes the requirement for students to demonstrate proficiency in reading, math and science under new Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress proficiency standards prior to participating in the program, and modifies authorization for a community college’s assessment of student readiness. Students still must meet academic standards set by postsecondary institutions to be eligible for concurrent enrollment.
[6/10: 49-0 (Excused: Bisignano)]

HF 2454 – Qualifications for community college CTE instruction

HF 2454 gives another option by which a community college instructor may teach in the career and technical education (CTE) area by allowing someone with an associate’s degree in the relevant CTE field, if such degree is considered terminal for that field of instruction, and at least 3,000 hours of recent, relevant work experience, to teach CTE classes in their area. In addition, anyone with a 4-year degree and 18-semester hours of relevant CTE classroom work is eligible to teach those CTE classes.
[3/11: 46-0 (Excused: Breitbach, Brown, Feenstra, Hogg)]

Education Related Bills from Other Committees

SF 2398 – Veterinary Loan Repayment Program

SF 2398 establishes a Rural Veterinarian Loan Repayment Program in the College Student Aid Commission, as well as a Rural Veterinary Care Trust Fund. The program provides loan repayment for those who practice as licensed veterinarians in “rural service commitment areas” or “veterinary shortage areas” for four years. Other details include:

  • “Rural service commitment area” means a city in Iowa with a population of less than 26,000 located more than 20 miles from a city with a population of 50,000 or more, and which provides a dollar contribution equivalent to 12.5% of the veterinarian’s total eligible loan amount upon graduation for deposit in the Rural Veterinary Care Trust Fund.
  • “Veterinary shortage area” refers to a designated veterinary service shortage situation in Iowa identified and nominated by the State Veterinarian or recommended for designation in accordance with federal National Veterinary Medical Services Act.
  • An individual is eligible to apply if any of these requirements are met: 1) Enrolled in the final year of a veterinary degree program at a College of Veterinary Medicine accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education; 2) Is a veterinarian licensed pursuant to Chapter 169 within five years of applying for this program with a veterinary medicine degree.
  • Priority is given to applicants who graduated from a high school in Iowa or completed private instruction under Chapter 299A (home school). When possible, the commission will enter into agreements with individuals with this priority order:
    • Private practice food supply (livestock) veterinary medicine in any veterinary shortage area.
    • Private practice food supply veterinary medicine in a city with a population of less than 26,00 that is located more than 20 miles form a city with a population of 50,000 or more, especially in remote or economically depressed rural areas.
    • Animal veterinary medicine in a rural service commitment area.
    • The College Student Aid Commission may consult with the State Veterinarian to determine prioritization. 
  • Disbursements for loan repayments cannot exceed $15,000 annually. Payments cannot exceed the four consecutive years of practice and cannot exceed a total $60,000 or the amount of outstanding eligible loans, whichever amount is less. Subject to the availability of funding, the Commissioner will enter into at least five program agreements annually. There is no funding in the bill.
    [6/4: 49-0 (Excused: Hogg)]

HF 2629 – Future Ready Iowa 2020

HF 2629 extends the Future Ready Iowa program by creating an Expanded Registered Apprenticeship Opportunities program. Components include:

  • Future Ready Iowa Apprenticeship Training Program to encourage small and medium-sized businesses to start apprenticeship programs. Seventy percent or more of the apprentices must be residents of Iowa; the rest must be residents of states contiguous to Iowa. Funding was $1 million in FY20. The Governor recommended $1.6 million for FY21. No appropriations in this bill.
  • Iowa Child Care Challenge Fund (Iowa Workforce Development): The Iowa Employer Innovation Fund matches eligible employer contributions to expand education and training leading to high-demand jobs. A business or nonprofit may apply for construction of a new child care facility, rehabilitation of an existing child care facility, or retrofitting and repurposing an existing structure. Funding was $1.2 million for FY20. The Governor recommended an increase of $2.8 million to bring the total to $4 million. The portion of the increase going to the Child Care Challenge Fund is $2 million. No appropriation in this bill.
  • Computer Science Instruction – K-12 Educational Standards Online Coursework: This requires all school districts and nonpublic schools to include computer science and adds a half unit of instruction to the Iowa core. The bill allows the instruction to be offered online. This portion goes into effect July 1, 2022. No appropriation in this bill.
  • Operational Sharing to include a Work-based Learning Coordinator: A work-based learning coordinator would help facilitate structured education and training programs at K-12 schools that include authentic work-site training, such as registered apprenticeship programs. This position would be included under the maximum amount of additional weighting a school district can receive for sharing staff in a budget year, effective for the 2021-22 school year.
  • Last Dollar Scholarship Program: The bill addresses these qualification issues:
    • Allows a student who graduates from high school, before becoming an adult learner, to enroll full-time at a community college. This addresses eligibility for 19-year-old students, meaning students don’t have to attend immediately after graduating.
    • Fixes an issue with students taking prerequisite courses not being eligible for the program since they did not go directly into an eligible program.
    • The bill’s proposed changes allow for all eligible students to receive scholarships for part-time classes during the summer. No appropriation in this bill.
  • Division 6: Senior Year Plus and Postsecondary Enrollment Options: The division eliminates the part-time enrollment limitation for a high school student enrolling in a community college course through Concurrent Enrollment (Senior Year Plus). The bill eliminates all references within the program that restrict it to part-time enrollment.
    [6/11: 49-0 (Excused: Hogg)]