Legislation examined at S. Putnam

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

When it comes to help on education issues, the South Putnam School Board is looking to the Indiana Statehouse for some assistance.

School Board members Mike Rissler, Dale Mendenhall, Nancy Wells, Howard Bowen and Steve Cash talked about two bills now making their way through the House of Representatives that could affect South Putnam -- House Bill 1581 on Teacher Professional Development Days, and House Bill 1001 on State Budget.

The teacher professional development days bill allows a maximum of three full school days or six half days that are used for staff professional development activities to be counted as student instructional days for the purposes of the required 180 day school year.

This bill also allows the corporation to use two of the six half-days or one half-day of the three full-days for parent-teacher conferences, and leaves the decision of choosing between full and half days solely in the hands of the governing body, which would be the school board.

This bill was authored by District 68 Rep. Robert J. Bischoff, and was later co-authored by District 22 Rep. William J. Ruppel and District 70 Rep. Paul J. Robertson. The bill also went through its first reading and was adopted by the Committee on Education.

The state budget bill was passed by the Committee on Ways and Means. It not only appropriates money for state agencies, but also specifies that the school tuition support formula be used to support schools with state tuition money.

"It will change a lot before it gets done, but right now it looks good for schools," Cash told fellow board members.

Cash explained that under this bill, schools would receive a 3.8 percent increase from the distribution of state tuition for both 2008 and 2009. He also explained that funding for full day kindergarten would be $57.5 million for 2008 and $103.5 million for 2009 under the state budget.

Cash also talked about a bill on special education students and the ISTEP test. This bill "allows a student, who is a child with a disability, to participate in the ISTEP test, or to participate in alternative assessment based on the student's age and instructional level, or opt out of any testing," Cash said in reference to the bill.

According to Cash, this bill has not moved from the committee yet due to the fact that some of the committee members have not seen the complete version of the bill.

The school board will be keeping an eye on the progress of these and several other bills that might affect the corporation.

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