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Legislative Session Summary

April 19, 2016

When the 2016 regular session of the Maryland General Assembly came to a close at midnight on April 11, 2015, a total of 2,817 bills had been introduced, of which 834 were successful.annapolisdome

For Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, total state aid for primary and secondary education will increase by $190.5 to $6.4 billion, a total increase of 3.4 percent compared with FY 2016. State aid through the Bridge to Excellence formulas increases by $147.1 million, or 2.7 percent. This increase reflects full funding of the mandated education formulas including the Geographic Cost of Education Index. The budget also includes $19.4 million for five school systems that have lost enrollment and aid in recent years (Baltimore City, Calvert County, Carroll County, Garrett County, and Kent County). An additional $19.0 million in budgetary savings is restricted for grants to help school systems fund the increase in their share of teachers’ retirement costs.

Montgomery County’s share of direct aid for primary and secondary education is more than $671 million, a 5.3 percent increase from FY 2016. The total state FY 2017 capital budget includes $280 million for the traditional Public School Construction Program. By March 2015, $252 million of those funds was allocated, with Montgomery County recommended to receive $31.4 million. The remaining dollars will be allocated by mid-May.

Below are the bills that passed, for information on all bills that the Board took a position on, please read the Memorandum sent to the Board or to read the testimonies submitted by the Board during the 2016 Legislative Session, click here.

Budget Highlights

In the operating budget, the state funded all programs at the level required by state formulas, including public schools. Additionally, the Montgomery County Delegation (delegation) succeeded in finding $6.1 million dollars in state money for Montgomery County to help pay for teacher pension costs. It will be up to Governor Lawrence Hogan, Jr. to release the funding. The operating budget also holds higher education tuition increases to 2% (much lower than the national average) and provides funding for important healthcare, public safety, and transportation programs. The delegation also passed legislation regarding the repayment of County income taxes under the Wynne Supreme Court decision. The legislation will allow taxpayers owed refunds to be repaid immediately, but allow the County to slow its repayment to the state for those refunds and ease the burden on the County budget.

There was also major progress on school construction, an important issue for Montgomery County’s overcrowded classrooms. This year, the delegation doubled the grant for school construction in high growth jurisdictions, like Montgomery County, to $40 million. The county receives approximately 25% of those funds, bringing the total school construction funding from the state to more than $47 million.

Local Issues

 MC 11-16 (HB0087) – Montgomery County Board of Education – Student Member – Voting

Board Position: Support

Outcome: Passed

This bill authorizes the student member of the Montgomery County Board of Education to vote on matters relating to the capital and operating budgets; school closings, reopenings, and boundaries; and collective bargaining. The bill takes effect July 1, 2016.

 MC 27-16 (HB1079) – Montgomery County Student Loan Refinancing Authority

Board Position: Support with Amendment

Outcome: Passed with Amendments

As amended, this bill authorizes Montgomery County to create a refinancing authority to refinance study loans. Before the authority is created, a study must be done on the aspects of implementation including feasibility and demand, the potential benefit to recruitment and retention, and a study of the operation of similar programs across the United States. Public hearings must be held and opportunities for public comment must be provided.

Assessments

HB0412 (SB0533) – Assessments – Administration and Provision of Information

Board Position: Oppose

Outcome: Passed with Amendments

As amended, this bill requires a local board of education to provide the following information for each assessment administered in a local school system: (1) the title of the assessment; (2) the purpose of the assessment; (3) whether the assessment is mandated by a local, state, or federal entity; (4) the grade level or subject area, as appropriate, to which the test is administered; (5) the testing window of the assessment; and (6) whether accommodations are available for students with special needs and what the accommodations are. Assessment does not include a teacher-developed quiz or test. By October 15 of each year, this information must be updated, posted on the website of the local board, and included in the annual update of the local board’s master plan. The bill also extends the time by which the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) has to develop state-specific assessments in specified core content areas (i.e., social studies) by two years, from the 2016–2017 school year to the 2018–2019 school year. The bill takes effect July 1, 2016.

HB0657 (SB0794) – Education – Prekindergarten and Kindergarten Assessments – Administration

Board Position: Support

Outcome: Passed with Amendments

As amended, this bill requires a statewide kindergarten assessment that is administered to measure school readiness to be limited to a random sample, as determined by MSDE, of kindergarten students from within each local school system. In accordance with a collective bargaining agreement, a principal and a teacher who are in mutual agreement, or a local board of education, may administer a statewide kindergarten assessment with the purpose of measuring school readiness if (1) the assessment is completed by October 1 and (2) the aggregate results are returned within 45 days after administration of the assessment. The bill also prohibits a standardized test from being administered to an enrolled prekindergarten student unless it is being administered by a school psychologist or other school-based professional who intends to use the results in order to identify a disability. MSDE must adopt regulations to implement the requirements of the bill. The bill takes effect July 1, 2016

Curriculum and School Days

SB0770 (HB1297) – Education – Public High Schools – Agriculture Science

Board Position: Oppose

Outcome: Passed with Amendments

This bill encourages each county board of education, beginning in the 2018–2019 school year, to implement an agriculture science curriculum in at least one public high school or career and technology education center in the county. If offered, the curriculum must be selected from existing curricula developed by MSDE or developed by a county board and approved by MSDE.

Food, Health, and Nutrition

HB0039 – Orange Ribbon for Healthy School Hours – Establishment    

Board Position: Oppose

Outcome: Passed with Amendments

As amended, this bill establishes an Orange Ribbon for Healthy School Hours certification in MSDE beginning in the 2017–2018 school year. Orange Ribbon certification is intended to recognize a local school system that creates, implements, and enforces school start times that are consistent with those recommended by MSDE, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). To receive Orange Ribbon certification, a local school system may not have (1) an elementary school requiring a student to be in class before 8:00 a.m. and board a school bus before 7:00 a.m. and (2) a middle or high school requiring a student to be in class before 8:30 a.m. and board a school bus before 7:30 a.m. Other certification criteria are specified. The bill also establishes criteria for limited (“honorable mention” and “commended”) certification, which MSDE may grant. The bill takes effect July 1, 2016.

HB0983 – Public Schools – Food Recovery Programs – Authorization

Board Position: Support

Outcome: Passed

This bill authorizes a county board of education to develop and implement a “food recovery program” that reduces food waste by donating leftover or excess food in schools under its jurisdiction to a local food bank or other nonprofit organization. If a county board exercises this authority, it may apply for recognition of its food recovery program under any relevant certification program. The bill takes effect July 1, 2016.

HB0771 – Public Schools – Administration of Diabetes Care Services – Guidelines

Board Position: Oppose

Outcome: Passed with Amendments

As amended, this bill requires MSDE and DHMH, to establish guidelines for public schools regarding the administration of heath care services to students with diabetes and provide specified technical assistance to schools to implement the guidelines. MSDE and DHMH, in consultation with the other specified and interested stakeholders, must establish a plan for all public school health services programs in the state to provide diabetes care services so that students with diabetes can (1) remain safe in school; (2) be supported for optimal academic achievement; and (3) fully participate in all aspects of school programing, including after-school activities and other school-sponsored events. By December 1, 2016, MSDE and DHMH must report to specified committees on the implementation of the plan. The bill takes effect July 1, 2016.

Students

HB0072 – Education – Sexual Abuse and Assault Awareness and Prevention Program – Development and Implementation

Board Position: No Position

Outcome: Passed with Amendments

As amended, this bill requires the State Board of Education and specified nonpublic schools in the State to develop and implement a program of age-appropriate education on the awareness and prevention of sexual abuse and assault. The program must be taught by teachers who are trained to provide instruction on the awareness and prevention of sexual abuse and assault and incorporated into the health curriculum of local boards of education and nonpublic schools. The State Board of Education must adopt regulations to carry out the bill. The bill takes effect July 1, 2016.

HB0085 – Education – Children with Disabilities – Support Services – Parental Notification

Board Position: Support

Outcome: Passed with Amendments

As amended, this bill requires that at the initial evaluation meeting, the parents of a child with a disability be provided with written information that they may use to contact local school system early intervention and special education family support services staff members, and a brief description of the services that they provide. Parents may request this information at any subsequent meeting, and this information must be prominently published on the appropriate section of each local school system’s website. If a parent’s native language is not English, the information must be provided in a parent’s native language. If a child with an IEP, developed in one local school system, moves into another local school system, the latter school system must provide the information at the time of the first written communication with the parents regarding the child’s IEP or special education services. Failure to provide the information required by the bill does not constitute grounds for a due process complaint. The bill takes effect July 1, 2016.

HB0086 – Special Education – Translations of Individualized Education Programs or Individualized Family Service Plans – Native Language    

Board Position: Support

Outcome: Passed with Amendments

As amended, this bill authorizes the parents of a child, with a completed IEP or individualized family service plan (IFSP), to request that the IEP or IFSP be translated into the parents’ native language, if that language is spoken by more than 1 percent of students in the local school system. School personnel must provide the parents with the translated document within 30 days after the date of the request.

An amendment added by the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs committee charges the Maryland State Department of Education to report to the Governor and committees whether there are economies of scale that can be utilized to lessen the financial impact of this Act and how the needs of students whose parents speak a native language that is spoken by less than 1 percent of the student population in the local school system can be addressed. Furthermore, on or before August 1, 2018, each county board of education shall report to the State Department of

Education regarding the number of requests received under § 8-405(e)(4)(i) of the Education Article, as enacted by Section 1 of this Act, the cost of implementing these requests, whether it would be feasible to have this number increase, and if so, by how many requests. The bill takes effect July 1, 2016.

HB0245 (SB0310) – Child Abuse and Neglect – Failure to Report

Board Position: Support

Outcome: Passed

This bill requires that if an agency is participating in a child abuse or neglect investigation and has substantial grounds to believe that a worker has knowingly failed to make a required report of suspected abuse or neglect, it must file a complaint with the worker’s licensing board, law enforcement agency, county board of education, or other agency, institution, or licensed facility, as appropriate, at which the worker is employed. The bill takes effect October 1, 2016.

HB0551 – Education – Children with Disabilities – Individualized Education Program Mediation

Board Position: No Position

Outcome: Passed with Amendments

As amended, this bill requires the IEP team to provide a parent, who disagrees with a child’s IEP or special education services, with, in plain language: (1) an oral and written explanation of the parent’s right to mediation; (2) contact information for receiving information on the mediation process; and (3) information regarding pro bono representation. The parent may request this information at any IEP team meeting. MSDE must make staff available to assist a parent in understanding the mediation process.

An amendment added by the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs committee requires that if the native language spoken by a parent is more than 1 percent of the student population of a local school system, the parent may request the information be translated. The IEP team then has 30 days to translate the document. The amendment also charges MSDE to report to the Governor and committees whether there are economies of scale that can be utilized to lessen the financial impact of this Act and how the needs of students whose parents speak a native language that is spoken by less than 1 percent of the student population in the local school system can be addressed. Furthermore, on or before August 1, 2018, each county board of education shall report to MSDE regarding the number of requests received under § 8-405(e) (4) (i) of the Education Article, as enacted by Section 1 of this Act, the cost of implementing these requests, whether it would be feasible to have this number increase, and if so, by how many requests. The bill takes effect July 1, 2016.

HB1095 – Prekindergarten Programs – Notification of Eligibility by Local Departments of Social Services

Board Position: Support

Outcome: Passed with Amendments

As amended, this bill requires local departments of social services and local health departments to provide a parent or guardian, who applies for economic services, with an oral and written notice that his or her child may be eligible for publicly funded prekindergarten programs if the parent or guardian has a child who will be four years old on September 1 of the next academic year. The notice must include contact information for the enrollment office of the local school system and the Division of Early Childhood Development in MSDE. Annually, by December 1, each local department of social services and local health department must report to the Maryland General Assembly on the number of parents who were given notification and subsequently enrolled their child in a publicly funded prekindergarten program. The bill takes effect July 1, 2016.

SB0595 – Education – Middle School Students – Awarding of Credit

Board Position: Support

Outcome: Passed with Amendments

As amended, this bill requires a local board of education to award credit to a middle school student for any course for which a high school student would be awarded credit if the middle school student meets the same requirements as the high school student. The bill takes effect July 1, 2016.

SB0764 – Education – Student Journalists – Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press

Board Position: No Position

Outcome: Passed

As amended, this bill allows a student journalist in a public elementary or secondary school or a public institution of higher education to exercise freedom of speech and freedom of the press in school-sponsored media, subject to restrictions in the bill. The bill establishes that a student journalist is responsible for determining the news, opinion, feature, and advertising content of school-sponsored media, also subject to specified restrictions. These restrictions are not to be construed to authorize or protect content that (1) is libelous or slanderous; (2) constitutes an unwarranted invasion of privacy; (3) violates federal or state law; or (4) incites students to engage in specified types of dangerous, unlawful, or disruptive behavior. Each county board of education and public institution of higher education must develop a written policy regarding the bill’s requirements, which may include limits on language that may be defined as profane, vulgar, lewd, obscene, harassing, threatening, or intimidating. The bill takes effect October 1, 2016.

SB0781 (HB0708) – Education – Maryland Seal of Biliteracy Act – Establishment

Board Position: Support

Outcome: Passed

This bill establishes a Maryland Seal of Biliteracy Program to recognize public high school graduates, beginning with the graduating Class of 2017, who have attained proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing one or more languages in addition to English. The purpose of the program is to promote linguistic proficiency and cultural literacy in one or more languages in addition to English and to provide recognition of the attainment of those skills by affixing a Seal of Biliteracy to the student’s diploma or transcript at graduation. Participation in the program by a local school system is voluntary; however, if a local school system chooses to participate, an individual school may not opt out. The State Board of Education must adopt regulations to implement the program. The bill takes effect July 1, 2016.

Fiscal/Legal

HB0115 (SB0582) – Education – Robotics Grant Program – Establishment

Board Position: Support

Outcome: Passed with Amendments

As amended, this bill establishes a Robotics Grant Program to provide grants to public schools in the state to support and expand existing robotics programs. A school is eligible to receive a grant through the program if the school is associated with an existing nonprofit robotics club or has an existing robotics program or club. The governor must appropriate at least $250,000 in the annual state budget for the program. The bill takes effect July 1, 2016.

HB0352 – Office of Legislative Audits – Local School System Audits – Repeal

Board Position: Support

Outcome: Passed with Amendments

As amended, this bill establishes a potential exemption to the general requirement that the Office of Legislative Audits (OLA), at least once every six years, conduct an audit of each local school system to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of the financial management practices at the local school system. Beginning in fiscal year 2017, a local school system is exempt from the audit requirement if the county governing body, the county board of education, and the county delegation to the Maryland General Assembly each submits a letter to the Joint Audit Committee requesting an exemption by November 1, 2016, or by November 1 of the last year of the six-year audit cycle for local school systems. However, the Joint Audit Committee may direct OLA to conduct an audit of a local school system at any time. The bill takes effect on October 1, 2016.

SB0083 – Public Safety – School Safety Enforcement Fund

Board Position: Support

Outcome: Passed with Amendments

This departmental bill renames the School Bus Safety Enforcement Fund to be the School Safety Enforcement Fund. The bill expands the allowable uses of the fund to include enhancements to school safety, in addition to the current purpose of addressing the problem of drivers illegally failing to stop for school vehicles. It likewise expands eligibility to receive grants from the fund to local boards of education. However, the bill prohibits a law enforcement agency or local board of education from using a grant from the fund for installing or maintaining a speed monitoring system in or around a school zone. Finally, the bill requires the Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP) to consider the geographic distribution of grant recipients before making a grant from the fund, and it repeals the existing limit on the initial grant amount that may be awarded, allowing the Executive Director to award more than $35,000 in a fiscal year for use in a single county. The bill takes effect October 1, 2016.

SB0271 (HB0722) – Capital Grant Program for Local School Systems with Significant Enrollment Growth or Relocatable Classrooms – Funding

Board Position: Support

Outcome: Passed with Amendments

As amended, this bill increases from $20.0 million to $40.0 million, beginning in fiscal 2017, the amount the governor is required to include in the annual Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for the Capital Grant Program for Local School Systems with Significant Enrollment Growth or Relocatable Classrooms. The bill also extends – from October 1 to January 15 – the deadline for annual reports to be submitted by specified entities on the progress of replacements, renovations, and maintenance of Baltimore City public school facilities. The bill takes effect June 1, 2016.

SB0520 (HB0756) – County Boards of Education – School Buses – Motor Fuel Tax Exemption and Refund

Board Position: Support

Outcome: Passed with Amendments

This bill exempts from the motor fuel tax, motor fuel that is purchased for use in a vehicle (1) owned by a county board of education or (2) used to transport students by a school bus operator under contract with a county board of education. The bill takes effect July 1, 2016.

SB0575 – County Boards of Education – Limit on Liability

Board Position: Oppose

Outcome: Passed

This bill increases the liability limit on a county board of education and the minimum amount of liability coverage a county board of education must maintain from $100,000 to $400,000. The bill also makes a corresponding change to the State Board of Education’s existing statutory requirement to establish standards for these comprehensive liability insurance policies. The bill applies prospectively to causes of action on or after the bill’s October 1, 2016 effective date.

Teachers and Schools

HB0537 (SB0373) – Teachers’ Retirement and Pension Systems – Reemployment of Retirees – Clarification

Board Position: Support

Outcome: Passed

This bill clarifies that a local school superintendent may hire no more than a combined total of five retirees of the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) and Teachers’ Pension System (TPS) to work in any position at any school without the teachers being subject to a reduced retirement allowance. The bill takes effect July 1, 2016.

SB0494 (HB0713) – State Department of Education – Community-Partnered School Behavioral Health Services Programs – Reporting System and Report (School Behavioral Health Accountability Act)

Board Position: Support

Outcome: Passed

This bill requires MSDE, in consultation with DHMH, local boards of education, and other interested stakeholders, as determined by MSDE, to develop and implement a standardized reporting system to determine the effectiveness of community-partnered school behavioral health service programs. The standardized reporting system must use measures that collect data on the outcomes of students who receive behavioral health services, including a student’s academic, behavioral, social, and emotional functioning and progress. By December 1, 2017, and every two years thereafter, MSDE must submit a report that provides an analysis of the effectiveness of community-partnered school behavioral health services programs. The bill takes effect July 1, 2016.

SB0586 – Department of Health and Mental Hygiene – Regional Institutes for Children and Adolescents – Report Before Closure

Board Position: Support

Outcome: Passed

This bill requires DHMH to submit a report to the Governor and the Senate Finance, Senate Budget and Taxation, House Health and Government Operations, and House Appropriations committees justifying the closure of a Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents (RICA) before the facility may be closed. The committees have 60 days to review and comment on the report. The report must include (1) the reasons for the closure; (2) the plan to serve the RICA’s target population after the closure; (3) the budgetary savings anticipated from the closure compared to the costs to serve the RICA’s target population in other settings; (4) the plan to assist state employees displaced by the closure in finding other employment; and (5) the plan for the RICA facility. The bill takes effect July 1, 2016.

It was truly a pleasure to represent the Board and Montgomery County Public Schools during the Legislative Session as the Legislative Aide. If you have any questions on these or any other pieces of legislation, please do not hesitate to email me at patricia_r_swanson@mcpsmd.org.