Wednesday, 16 May 2012 09:20
Last Tuesday the bill was vetoed by Governor Robert Bentley. He sent the bill back to the legislature with an amendment that would allow school systems to choose whether or not they wanted to adopt the new calendar guidelines. In a press release he said, “The flexibility component of this bill can be very valuable for local school systems as they meet the needs of the students they serve. Let me be clear- the intent of the bill regarding the school calendar is good, but I also want to make sure systems have the local control they need.”|
The House of Representatives voted 71-21 to override Governor Bentley’s veto, and then it was up to the Senate to decide what to do. Since the Senate put the bill into law, school systems are left scrambling, with little time to work out their 2012-2013 school calendars. School boards could decide to ax fall and spring breaks from the calendar, or they could make school days longer. Jackson County Superintendent Ken Harding says that he and Scottsboro Superintendent, Dr. Judy Berry, will work together on drafting a definite new school calendar after the state budget is finalized, but that he knows Jackson County Schools will begin August 20 this year. “Everything else is up in the air,” he said.
Dr. Berry said “The main thing we have to do is protect instructional minutes.” She says she would like to keep the city calendar as close to the county’s as possible. Right now the city is looking at two different options for the 2012-2013 school year. The first calendar would be 180 days long, would cut out fall break, and shorten spring, Christmas and Thanksgiving breaks. The second plan includes 178 days and would add five minutes to the school day. “The reason we can do that is because at some schools we have 360 minutes of instruction and that’s what we have to have now.” She said that if they get news from the state about adding additional minutes to instructional time that their plans may change.
According to Rep. Randy Davis, the bill’s sponsor, the bill will boost summer tourism revenue, since the window for summer vacation will be open longer. He says it will also cut down on transportation and air-conditioning costs for school systems, since school will be in session for fewer days during extreme heat.
Harding said he first opposed the bill and that he was against someone dictating the schedule for the entire state because the needs of north and south Alabama are completely different. However, since the calendar became tied to the budget, school systems won’t lose as many teacher units. “I’m against the new calendar, but I’m a whole lot more against losing teachers. So, if the calendar saves a few teaching jobs, then I’m for it,” he said.
Other bills passed by the legislature during this session include HB2 and SB388.
House Bill 2, which will prohibit texting while driving, has also been made law. Under the new law a driver will be fined and a two-point violation will be placed on his or her driving record for each offense. The law will go into effect on August 1.
Governor Bentley is expected to sign Senate Bill 388, a pension reform bill that has already been approved by both the Senate and the House. The changes will impact state pension by changing the minimum retirement age to 62 for most state employees, instead of 60, or at any age with 25 years of service. It will also adjust pension payments from an average of the highest paid three years of the last 10 years of service to an average of the highest 5, and employee contribution rates will go from 7.5% to 6.0 % for new hires, 7.0% for law enforcement, fire-fighters and corrections employees. The changes will not affect employees hired before Jan. 1, 2013. According to Bentley the changes will save the government around $5.03 Billion over a 30 year time period.
The 2012 legislative session is expected to end this week, but will likely go into special session to discuss either redistricting or the state budget.
|< Prev||Next >|