These are my notes from Lisa Woodard’s legislative update presentation at the Alabama Educational Technology Association MidWinter Conference on March 10, 2011. Lisa is with the School Superintendents of Alabama. MY THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS ARE IN ALL CAPS. THESE NOTES ARE JUST PARTIAL, I WAS NOT ABLE TO CAPTURE EVERYTHING LISA SHARED. AS YOU MIGHT IMAGINE, THIS NEWS IS GRIM. WE LIVE IN GRIM TIMES FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION.

Republicans now enjoy a super-majority in the Alabama legislature
– 105 incumbents, 33 new members in House

Now have a new Visitor’s Policy in the state house
– no obstructions are permitted in the hall of the 5th floor house
– procedures make it more difficult to communicate with legislators

MY COMMENT: THIS IS WHY FOR THE AETA MEETING TODAY, LEGISLATORS WERE INVITED TO COME FOR BREAKFAST AND TO NETWORK WITH ASSOCIATION MEMBERS. THIS WAS BEFORE THEIR 9 AM COMMITTEE MEETINGS. SOME CAME, SO THAT IS GREAT!

Everything happening in the statehouse now in Alabama is guided by the GOP “Handshake with Alabama”
– creating jobs and economic opportunities
– control wasteful spending
– ending corruption in Montgomery
– combat illegal immigration
– block the Washington DC Power Grab

We are seeing more bills that give tax breaks to business than we have in a long time

ETF FY12 Budget
– OCE is $89 million less this year and it will not covered the salaries and benefits of support workers currently employed
– this is what keeps the doors open for our state superintendents / district leaders
– Transportation is $23 million short funding salaries and benefits, includes nothing for fuel (estimates are we will need $40 million for fuel)
– 50% cut for High Hopes Program (Exit Exam Remediation)
– 1% salary adjustment (required by ACT 97-238) is not included
– textbooks funded at $15.88 per unit, same as FY11, and that IS “flex money”

There is no support currently for ANY new taxes, there will be no new revenue this session
– looking at Fractual Units (SB52)
– this means school districts can combine partial teacher credits and then allocate those teachers as needed

After the break we’ll probably see Tenure and Fair Dismissal” revisted
– we are not out to destroy tenure, but if teachers need to be transferred from 3rd grade to 2nd grade we shouldn’t have to go to an arbitration hearing, and that is what we currently have to do in some cases

This is the cliff we’ve been talking about… and it is here.

The more you can get local legislators IN your schools.
– try to get your legislators to look at the videos of students this morning
– this legislature: grassroots is VERY important, particularly the new legislators really want to hear from their constituents
– let legislators see what some schools have and what others don’t
– Coming to Montgomery is more difficult this year than ever, but you can be just as effective in your district

Ethics: After March 15th you can’t accept anything of value from anyone as a public employee
– you can still get door prizes or eat food at conferences
– beware of golf or deep sea fishing trips offered at conferences by vendors who are trying to sell you a service
– If Apple wants to take you out of state, a trip may include more than 12 people, you may want to run that by the ethics commission

The “solutions” being offered right now (budget cuts) seem to only affect classroom teachers (the state department of education, for example, isn’t facing any cuts)

Is everyone getting my “Friday Update” that goes to superintendents?
– this includes “action items”

MY COMMENT: I’M THINKING IT WOULD BE GREAT FOR LISA TO SHARE THESE OUT ON A FACEBOOK PAGE TOO

If you are struggling to meet your technology budgets, contact your legislators and talk to them about projects
– iPad initiatives for example: Many legislators want to fund projects, it can help them too with PR
– there is always money in these contingency funds, and Republican legislators control it now

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