Georgia General Assembly

Tuesday was the final day of the Georgia General Assembly and also served as the deadline for several education bills with some passing both chambers and some having to wait until next year to be revisited.

House Bill 602, the Rome Building Authority, and 603, which provided a pay increase for Floyd County Schools Board of Education members, both passed the House and Senate.

The building authority would give Rome City Schools the ability to sell bonds in order to finance the school’s college and career academy early. The system will pay back the bonds with ELOST V funds which the system began collecting on Monday. The bill is currently waiting to be signed by Gov. Brian Kemp and the Rome City Schools board will have to vote to use the authority to fund the college and career academy once it has been passed.

Floyd County Schools board members received a $200 monthly pay increase, which was voted by the board during a called meeting on Jan. 17. Members will now receive $600 a month for serving on the board of education and will also be reimbursed for any expenses incurred while traveling outside of Floyd County if members are conducting board of education business. The pay increase will become effective on the first day of the month after the governor signs the bill into law.

Other bills that have been passed by the house and senate include a $3,000 state-wide raise for teachers, mandatory recess for elementary students in kindergarten as well as first- through fifth-grades and required computer science classes for middle and high schools.

The $3,000 pay raise was called a down payment by Kemp, who promised a $5,000 raise across the board once he was elected. The standing governor announced the raise on Jan. 17 along with $30,000 to each school to be used for security purposes. The budget containing these two items has been passed by the house and senate and await Kemp’s signature.

Beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, state schools will be required to give kindergarten through fifth-grade students a daily recess providing around 30 minutes of outdoor time. Schools are not required to give students recess if they have physical education or other activities scheduled for the day according to the bill. The bill calls for local school boards to create their own policies regarding recess time for elementary school students.

The Georgia General Assembly also passed Senate Bill 108 which will now require middle and high schools to incorporate a computer science class into the curriculum. According to the bill less 0.5% of high school students take a computer science course. The bill says there is a growing number of computer science jobs in the state of Georgia, and the logical thinking taught in these classes has become valuable.