The House of Representatives passed HB 6 on Wednesday, April 6th. It needs one more vote in the House, but this is usually a formality. The bill has changed some as it has gone through the process.
The first changes came in the House Public Education Committee. The witnesses that represented TCEA mentioned several concerns that our members had expressed. These issues were corrected in the final version that came out of the committee:
*The IMA can be used to pay for technical and training personnel.
*The bill also allows districts to charge an insurance fee to the students that are provided a piece of equipment. It does however, require a school district to create a policy on how they would handle students who cannot pay for the insurance fee.
*The amended bill eliminates the terms “conforming” and “non-conforming”. Instead, the State Board of Education will be required to determine the exact percentage of TEKS that are covered by the instructional materials they adopt.
During the House debate on HB 6, seven amendments were added.
1. Fixed some minor numbering (Rep. Eissler)
2. Allows the State Board of Education to remove an item on the Commissioner’s List if they inform the Commissioner within 90 days of the placement of the material on the list. (Rep. Eissler and Rep. Hancock)
3. Lists the materials that must be considered when a school district certifies that they have covered all the TEKS. They are:
*Instructional Materials on the SBOE List
*Instructional Materials on the Commissioner’s List
*Open-source materials submitted by eligible institutions
*Open-source materials made available by other public school districts.
*Instructional materials developed or purchased by the school district.
This amendment also requires the SBOE to call for an adoption of materials 12 months before they will be adopted instead of 24 months. It also requires that the SBOE must consider submitted open-source instructional materials that are available for use by the state without charge on the same basis as instructional materials offered for sale. (Rep. Strama)
4. Requires the IMA to also fund the Technology Lending Grant. Up to 10% of the IMA can be used for this program. This is a program that has been in law, but has never been funded. (Rep. Hochberg)
5. Requires a school district to provide the title and publication information for any instructional materials paid for with IMA funds. (Rep. Hochberg)
6. Stipulates that items purchased by the IMA belong to the school district and not the state. (Rep. Hochberg)
7. Allows a district to seek reimbursement from an employee if they intentionally damage technological equipment. (Rep. Strama)
The next step is for the Senate to take up their version of this bill. SB 6 has already come out of the Senate Education Committee and is schedule to be voted on the floor of the Senate any day. In their version of the bill, they have delayed the implementation of the IMA until September, 2012. The original intent was to delay the implementation for two years, but the committee only delayed it one year when they actually took a vote.
After the Senate version is passed by the full Senate, the two versions will go to a conference committee which will work out the differences and come to consensus on one bill. As always, we will monitor the progress and report the updates here.