House Bill 154, sponsored by Rep. Mike Denham, cleared the House by a 58-41 vote yesterday. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.
The legislation requires reports to be made by school finance officers and the Commissioner of Education. It also specifies annual training requirements for school board members.
The state Department of Education would be required to review each district’s annual financial report and, within two months, respond to the local board of education with a written report on the financial status of that district.
School board members with up to 8 years of service would be required to have 12 hours of in-service training, while members with more than 8 years would be required to have 8. All school board members would be required to have 2 hours of school finance training, 2 hours of ethics training, and 2 hours of superintendent evaluation training annually.
House Minority Floor Leader Jeff Hoover, called for a “fiscal impact statement” to be attached to the bill because of the potential cost of proposed changes. A fiscal impact statement shows what costs, if any, would be incurred by government by enacting a bill.
Rep. Jim DeCesare said that increasing annual training for school board members costs money, as would the cost of certifying school finance officers. Although this bill would provide much needed transparency, he believes that would put an unfunded mandate on our local school districts while they are struggling to make ends meet.
The Chamber has expressed support for HB 154 to bring more transparency to education spending in an effort to ensure added funding makes it to the classroom.