Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It is a pleasure to serve you in the state Legislature. As we approach the final two weeks of the 2014 legislative session, the House and Senate will be debating and negotiating the three state supplemental budgets: Operating, capital and transportation. In a short session like this year, we are only tasked with making minor changes to our two-year budgets. I will have more information next week on these budgets as things take shape.
One critical education component, Teacher-Principal Evaluation Program (TPEP), must be addressed this session despite the short timeline because of federal mandates. Under the federal No Child Left Behind regulations, states are required to include a significant portion of student performance data as part of the teacher principal evaluation system. Until now, our state has had a waiver from this requirement as a way to give us more time to pilot the evaluation system and find the right balance student of performance data to factor into the TPEP. Unfortunately, the state Senate rejected Senate Bill 5246 to make this adjustment and now we're at risk of losing more than $40 million. The disagreement on the bill boils down to how much student test scores/performance is factored into teacher and principal evaluations.
As we work to fully fund K-12 education and comply with the McCleary ruling, these dollars are much needed. And, parents, teachers and school administrators need the student performance data to understand how effective teachers are in our classrooms. The state Supreme Court was clear – not only did schools need a greater financial investment from the state, but student outcomes must improve based on the additional funding. Lawmakers and parents need to know how students are performing to better gauge where we have persistently failing schools and/or teachers, so we can take action to both improve student outcomes and support teachers. With $40 million in federal funding on the line, I hope this bill is passed soon.
This week, Rep. Chad Magendanz and I had the privilege to honor a local icon and civic leader, Gloria McNeely. We passed House Resolution 4687 outlining her contributions to our communities. And, while we listed much of her work, we know there is more and we know there is more to come. At 95, she is still going strong and doing all she can to support the arts and many other local endeavors. She is a true treasure and we know she'll continue to be active in our communities for years to come.
As always, my door is always open. Please feel free to call or e-mail me with your questions, comments and solutions. It is an honor to work on your behalf.