Legislative Alert

Cap K-3 class size

Kindergarten through third-grade classrooms would be capped at 17 students in schools with consistently low test scores, if legislators approve a bill sponsored by Rep. Shanelle Jackson, D-Detroit.

House Bill 4712 would amend the state school code to require the superintendent of public instruction to limit kindergarten through third-grade class size in schools which failed to make adequate yearly progress for four consecutive years under the No Child Left Behind Act. The same limit would apply if a school were unaccredited for three consecutive years.

 The code already allows, but does not require, the superintendent to impose other consequences, such as allowing parents to transfer their children to an accredited school. The bill was referred to the House Education Committee.

Track this bill and post comments at: www.michiganvotes.org/2009-HB-4712

Pay campaign fines over time

Candidates for public office, including school board candidates, who violate the state’s campaign finance law would be allowed to pay off any resulting fines or fees on an installment plan, under legislation introduced by Rep. Fred Durhal Jr., D-Detroit.

House Bill 4713 would authorize the secretary of state to accept installment payments over a maximum of 12 months. The law allows the secretary of state to impose civil fines in cases such as improper campaign expenditures or contributions.

The bill was referred to the House Ethics and Elections Committee on March 26.

Track this bill and post comments at: www.michiganvotes.org/2009-HB-4713

House protects DPS status

Detroit Public Schools would remain a “school district of the first class” until July 1, 2010, regardless of enrollment, under legislation adopted by the House of Representatives. As originally submitted by Rep. Bettie Scott, D-Detroit, House Bill 4047 would have protected Detroit’s first-class status by changing the definition of first class from a district with 100,000 students to one with 60,000. However, representatives instead adopted a substitute bill that simply states that any district with first-class status as of Sept. 1, 2008, would remain first-class until the July date.

The original bill and the substitute both would have the effect of limiting the number of charter schools that can be opened within Detroit district boundaries. Currently, community colleges may not authorize a charter school within a district of the first class.

The measure passed in the House on a 71-38 vote.

Track this bill and post comments at: www.michiganvotes.org/2009-HB-4047

Nix on golf fees, jewelry, gifts

School district money could not be used to purchase alcoholic beverages, jewelry, gifts, fees for golf or illegal items, under the terms of legislation introduced by Rep. Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy, on March 19. Intermediate school districts already operate under those restrictions, but House Bill 4666 would extend them to all public school districts.

The bill was referred to the House Education Committee.

Track this bill and post comments at: www.michiganvotes.org/2009-HB-4666