The win-win solution I introduced through a committee amendment saves the hourly equivalent provision by removing the expiration, thereby making the state-wide start/stop date permanent, along with the hourly equivalent clause, IF the “opt-out” provision going into effect this year was supported.
The committee adopted the amendment in a meeting this morning but further adopted a second “surprise” amendment making the bill effective after October of 2013. Unfortunately supporters of the mandatory state-wide calendar failed to realize that their amendment undermines the intent of my bill. The “opt-out” provision that I championed going into effect immediately (the 2013-2014 school year) is no longer in the bill. To that end I will not support the amended bill and the current law will expire, as does the hourly equivalent portion.
I’m disappointed in the way this worked out as my offer allowed everyone to gain something - local schools could opt-out in the 2013-2014 school year and the hourly equivalent of 180 days clause remained. Now the mandatory state-wide calendar will expire this year and for the 2014 – 2015 school year, local school systems will once again have full control of setting their calendars.
Teacher’s Retirement Board Changes - SB303 was introduced by Senator Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) and championed by higher education and members of the Teachers Retirement (TRS) Board.
The concerns are that participants from higher education represent over 25% of the membership but they have not had representation on the board since changes were made to the TRS Board make-up in 1980. The teachers, support staff, principals and superintendents are all represented on the board.
Other concerns include preventing some shenanigans that happened when electing new members just this year. I wasn't fully aware of the internal power struggle with the board but under current rules, one organization distributes, collects and counts the ballots - AEA. Several requests have been made that an outside, third party be charged with performing these duties.
Lastly, the bill changes voting for membership so that principals across the state vote for principals, support staff vote for support staff, teachers vote for teachers, etc.
Senate Cost of Living Increase – For the third year in a row I have declined the automatic pay increase set by the legislature in controversial move in 2007 (read letters to the Secretary of the Senate here: 2011, 2012 and 2013). It has been reported that some legislators have once again accepted the cost of living increase. This issue will be resolved in 2014 as the legislative pay reform passed via a constitutional amendment in 2012.
The legislature will not be in session next week for spring break. We will reconvene on Tuesday, April 2nd.
Semper Fi - Bill