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Legislature will vote on significant K-12 bills in 2016

Legislative leaders have voted to allow a handful of bills into the upcoming session that could have a significant impact on public education, including a proposal that would infringe on the school board’s legal right to set educational policy when making teacher assignments.

The Legislative Council, made up of Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate, also voted to allow in a bill endorsed by a resolution passed by the Maine School Boards Association Delegate Assembly in October. It authorizes the use of warrant articles to give schools flexibility on the use of General Purpose Aid when the state budget is passed after local school budgets are approved.

There is a bill to overturn Maine’s adoption of the Common Core standards in English and math, which were included in Maine’s Learning Results in 2011. Those standards were endorsed by the MSBA Delegate Assembly in 2014. Another bill would delay any new statewide assessment test.

There also is a bill in dealing with health insurance for Alternative Organizational Structures, whose members will be affected by the Affordable Care Act rules for districts with fewer than 50 employees – a rule that affects AOSs since each member town is considered a single employer.

Maine School Management will send out alerts when these bills are introduced to the Education Committee so school board members and superintendents can weigh in with committee members.

Bills of interest include:

  • “An Act to Improve Teaching Assignments in Maine’s Public Schools”, LR 2390, sponsored by Sen. Linda Baker, R-Sagadahoc, who said she introduced the bill because “teachers have little to no input on the teaching assignments in public schools.” This bill would infringe on the school board’s legal right to set educational policy.
  • “An Act to Facilitate the Use of State Education Subsidies,” LR 2329, sponsored by Sen. Rebecca Millett, D-Cumberland, at the request of MSBA. Late passage of the biennial budget after local school budgets already are adopted is an ongoing problem. This bill would enshrine in statute that voters can approve a warrant article giving the School Board the option of using additional GPA in the upcoming school year when the Legislature is late passing the state budget.
  • “An Act to Facilitate Homegrown Education in Maine,” LR 2352, sponsored by Rep. William Tuell, R-East Machias, which seeks to overturn the Common Core in English and math as the state standards. The Maine Education Association has aligned with Tuell in support of this bill.
  • “An Act to Delay Any New Statewide Assessment Test,” LR 2213, sponsored by Rep. Ellie Espling, R-New Gloucester.
  • “An Act To Enable Alternative Organizational Structures To Purchase Group Health Insurance for All Employees,” LR 2300, sponsored by Rep. Brian Hubbell, D-Bar Harbor. The bill would allow AOSs with common employment contracts to purchase a single-group health insurance policy.

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