The Senate Education Committee heard these bills at its Thursday meeting:
SB 1444 by Chair Larry Taylor, as originally filed, would have allowed any district to withdraw from ActiveCare. After concerns were expressed by TRS, TCTA and other education groups, Taylor amended his bill to eliminate the District of Innovation loophole discussed here and to instead allow districts to withdraw, but with limitations. A district choosing to leave ActiveCare would have to stay out for at least five years, and a district choosing to enter or re-enter ActiveCare would have to remain in the plan for at least five years. These provisions were included at the suggestion of TRS and should help mitigate concerns over adverse selection that could raise ActiveCare premiums.
SB 348 by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst would address the extent to which parents can observe online classes and have access to review materials used in online instruction. TCTA worked with the bill author to ensure that reviewing teaching materials and observing classrooms during virtual instruction occur in the same manner and are subject to the same laws and policies as in-person instruction.
SB 168 by Sen. Cesar Blanco would address how active shooter exercises can take place, requiring districts to give prior warning to students/parents/teachers including the date and content of the exercise. It would require collaboration between law enforcement and mental health professionals to ensure exercises are age-appropriate.
SB 194 by Sen. Beverly Powell includes information about students successfully completing a program of study in career and technology in the student achievement indicators of the accountability system.
SB 1526 by Sen. Charles Perry would limit the amount of student data that can be transferred to vendors, and would allow TEA or the school district to determine which data to include.
SB 1527 by Perry would create the Rural Schools and Community Technical Assistance Center.
SB 534 by Sen. Bryan Hughes would provide immunity from liability for districts that use certain security options (for example, school marshals or school guardians).
SB 1082 by Sen. Donna Campbell would strengthen provisions entitling parents to review the curriculum of sex education courses.
The committee voted out the following bills: