2021 Legislative Session Bill Summaries

IASB includes in its bill summary only those bills that have passed a committee, been approved by the House or the Senate or signed by the governor. This is to focus attention on those bills the legislature has determined have a chance of becoming law.Each year, there are a large number of bills that are introduced, impacting K-12 public education.It’s common that bills may have an initial hearing at the subcommittee level but progress no further.IASB’s goal is to focus you attention on bills that are actually moving toward enactment.This does not mean that we do not give our full attention to bills that implement the resolutions adopted by the delegate assembly each year.If you have specific questions about a bill that is not listed, please contact Phil Jeneary at pjnereay@ia-sb.org or Emily Piper at epiper@ia-sb.org for more information.

Below are summaries of bills important to IASB that we are tracking throughout the session.

Standards & Accountability

HF 308 – Eligibility Requirements for Concurrent Enrollment: This bill allows a student to qualify for concurrent enrollment classes if they have shown   proficiency in reading, math, and science based on assessment scores. Currently, students must meet specific requirements, and this provides an alternative route for students to take these courses. The school district and community college must jointly adopt proficiency measures that students must meet. 

IASB registered in support of the bill because this provides more ways for students to earn college credits based on a student’s overall performance and not based on a specified test. The bill passed the Senate on a 48-0 vote and had previously passed the House by a 94-0 vote. The bill goes to Governor Reynolds for her consideration.  

HF 414 – Child Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault Awareness: This bill requires schools to provide age-appropriate instruction on child sexual abuse and child sexual assault awareness as part of their human growth and development curriculum. Additionally, teachers would be required to take continuing education on the same topic.  

IASB is registered neutral on this bill because while we support educating students on this topic, it is an unfunded mandate put on schools. The bill passed the House Public Safety committee.   

Educator Quality

HF 371/SF 288  Teach Iowa Scholar Program: This bill allows money collected from the teacher shortage loan program to be deposited in the Teach Iowa Scholar Program. The bill strikes language creating the Teacher Shortage Loan Forgiveness Repayment Fund and any remaining funds in that account and the Teacher Shortage Loan Forgivable Loan Repayment account on June 30, 2021 will be directed to the Teach Iowa Scholar Program.  

IASB is registered in support because this program is designed to keep teachers in Iowa. The bill was passed by the House Education committee. 

SF 285 – Eligibility for Iowa Opportunity Program: The bill allows a student participating in the Iowa Opportunity scholarship program to suspend, in addition to deferring participation in the program up to two years if the student meets specific requirements or if a student is fulfilling a military commitment.    

IASB registered neutral on the bill as this affects students who have already graduated high school but does allow those within the program flexibility to continue their education. The bill passed out of the Senate on a 48-0 vote and passed the House on a 96-0 vote. The bill goes to Governor Reynolds for her consideration. 

Fiscal Responsibility & Stewardship 

HF 317/SF 287– Funding for Children in Certain Facilities: This bill modifies the calculation used to determine the amount of funding a school district can request by changing the calculation from number of months to number of days that a student is enrolled in the district in order to provide education services to children living in approved or licensed shelter home or other approved facilities. 

IASB is registered neutral on the bill as it works to provide additional information on how this will affect school districts. The House version passed the House on a 94-0 vote. The Senate version passed out of the Senate Education committees. 

HF 318  Statewide Preschool Eligibility: This bill expands the eligibility requirements for the four-year-old statewide voluntary preschool program to allow five-year olds who reach that age between March 15th and September 15th. This is a three-year pilot project and a four-year-old who attends preschool can attend preschool again as a five-year-old if there is sufficient space. Enrollment priority will be given to four year olds. The bill requires schools to provide consultation services for parents to provide them with an assessment of their child’s readiness for the kindergarten or preschool program. The Department of Education will collect information from participating schools on enrollment and other demographic information of students enrolled in the programs. 

IASB registered in support of the bill because it focuses attention and resources on early childhood education which is the founding block for later educational achievement. The bill was passed by the House Education committee. 

HF 386 – District Reporting Requirements: This bill removes the requirement that districts report expenditures to the Department of Education from any non-profit entity that is associated with the district. Districts are still required to report the information to the community.    

IASB registered in support of the bill because it eliminates burdensome reporting requirements. The bill passed out of the Senate on a 48-0 vote and the House version had previously passed on a 94-0 vote. The bill goes to Governor Reynolds for her consideration.  

HF 532 – School District Supplemental Appropriation: This bill provides a $27.2 million one-time supplemental appropriation to school districts equal to the number of in-person instruction days. The bill calculates the number of in-person days between July 1, 2020 to January 29, 2021. Schools must submit their number of days to the Department of Management on or before the fourteenth day after the bill becomes law to receive supplemental payments. Districts will be given credit for the following: 

  • One day: A school day that offered six or more hours of in-person instruction.
  • Half day: A school day that offered 3-6 hours of in-person instruction.
  • Half day: A school day on which one half, but not all students, was offered six or more hours of in-person instruction. 

IASB registered opposed to the bill because it will create administrative burdens trying to calculate exact days and does not distribute funds equitably among districts. The bill was passed by the House Education committee. 

HF 602 – Student Activity Fund
: This bill allows districts to transfer general funds to the student activity fund to cover cocurricular and extracurricular activities. The board must pass a resolution before making a transfer. Districts will be able to make transfers to the student activity fund by July 1, 2023. The bill was amended in committee to cover district extracurricular and cocurricular activities from March 15, 2020 through June 30, 2022. 

IASB registered in support of the bill because this fund has suffered loss of revenue due to the pandemic and limiting fans while having the same expenses. The bill was passed by the House Education committee. 

HF 605 – ELL Weighting: This bill divides English proficient students into two categories based on proficiency and provides additional weighting for those students. Students identified as “Intensive student” will get an additional .26 weighting. Students identified as “Intermediate student” will get an additional .21 weighting. The changes are effective for the 2021-2022 school year.   

IASB registered in support of the bill as it increases weighting for ELL students to help them gain English proficiency. The bill was passed by the House Education committee. 

HF 642 – Shared Operational Function Expansion: This bill adds special education director to the list of positions eligible for supplementary weighting. The special education director would carry a weighting of three pupils. 

IASB registered in support because special education services are a critical service districts provide.  This bill gives flexibility to districts to hire a special education director using operational sharing incentives.  The bill was passed by the House Education committee. 

SF 130 – Board Member CompensationThis bill allows school board members who earn income as substitutes, food service workers or bus drivers to exceed the $6,000 compensation limit. This provision is only effective for the current school year.  

IASB proposed this legislation and is registered in support of the bill because it allows districts to utilize these board members during the pandemic. The bill passed the Senate by a 47-0 vote and passed the House in a 96-0 vote. The bill goes to Governor Reynolds for her consideration. 

SF 258 – School Resource Officers: This bill allows districts to levy for additional property taxes and income surtax above the instructional support 10% limit to pay for the cost of school resource office and equipment.  

IASB registered in support of the bill because school safety is a top concern, and this bill gives districts flexibility to hire an SRO which allows the board to shift those costs to provide additional funds to the classroom. The bill was passed by the Senate Education committee.

Governance

HF 228 – Voluntary Diversity PlansThis bill eliminates the ability of a district with a voluntary diversity plan to reject an open enrollment request if it would disrupt their diversity plan.   Five districts have such plans and use them to maintain a ratio of socio-economic status within their buildings. 

IASB registered opposed to the bill because research shows students perform better with a diverse student make up and this bill takes away the ability of a district to keep their districts more diverse. The bill was passed by the House on a 56-32 vote and has been referred to the Senate Education committee. 

HF 315/SF 259 – Programs for At-Risk Children: This bill allows money appropriated to the Department of Education to assist schools in developing program plans and early childhood education needs can also be used by the AEAs for the same purpose. The bill also strikes language about grant awards given to school districts needing to be a combination of preschool and full-day kindergarten. 

IASB registered neutral on the bill as this cleaned up language and deals with AEA programs. The bill passed the House by a 93-0 vote. 

HF 316 – District of Residence with Open Enrollment: This bill changes the determination of a student’s district of residence to the district the child is enrolled in on the October reporting deadline. This district will be responsible for payment of costs to the receiving district.  

IASB registered neutral on the bill because this was a technical cleanup from the Department of Education. The bill passed the House on a 94-0 vote. 

HF 385 - Open Enrollment Modifications: This Department of Education bill adds pre-kindergarten students enrolled in a special education to those students eligible for the September 1 open enrollment deadline. If the request does not meet the deadline, a waiver can be granted under the good cause exemption. The bill also adds two additional good cause exemptions: 

A child moves to another district because they move from one parent to the other parent/guardian who lives in another district. 

Pre-kindergarten students needing special education services can go to another district to receive instruction.  

IASB registered neutral on the bill because open enrollment issues affect districts differently. The bill passed out of the House by a 96-0 vote. 

HF 415 – Pledge of Allegiance: The bill requires public and accredited nonpublic schools to administer the pledge of allegiance in grades 1-12 and to display the US flag in each classroom. Students can opt out if they choose to and if their parents also object to their child’s participation. 

IASB registered neutral on the bill because it provides an opt-out procedure if students or parents object. The bill passed the House on a 91-3 vote.

HF 482 – Local Farm Produce Programs: This bill creates a local farm produce program through the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to help schools purchase fresh farm produce. The department will reimburse districts, up to $1,000, for expenses on products during the school year. For districts to be eligible they must buy the produce from an instate farmer, or if their district borders another state, the farm can be in another state, but that farm must be located within thirty miles of the school district’s border. 

IASB registered neutral on the bill because this deals with multiple issues but is supportive of the department helping schools with this program. The bill passed out of the House Agriculture committee and was referred to the House Ways & Means committee. 

HF 585 – Safe and Sound Program: This bill establishes a reporting system within the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to receive anonymous tips on safety threats related to schools.  The bill provides materials for school trainings, creates a threat assessment team to assist local authorities and school officials on how to respond to a specific situation, requires schools to promote safety materials, and submit the district’s emergency operations plans to DPS.  

IASB registered opposed to the bill due to concerns over the requirement that districts submit their emergency operation plan with other entities. The bill was approved by the House Public Safety committee.  

SF 55 – Carbon Monoxide Standards: This bill requires the state fire marshal to adopt rules for carbon monoxide standards in several buildings, including schools. The rules will align with international fire and international building codes.  

IASB registered neutral on the bill as most districts have carbon monoxide standards and precautions in place. The bill passed out of the Senate State Government committee.  

SF 159 – Education Omnibus Bill: This bill creates a taxpayer funded voucher program in addition to a multitude of other topics.  

Division 1: Creation of voucher program 

Division 2: Expansion of charter schools 

Division 3: Elimination of Voluntary Diversity Plans 

Division 4: Education Information, Standards, and Funding 

Division 5: Tax Credits and Deductions 

Division 6: Changes to enrollment calculation 

Division 7: Open enrollment changes 

Division 8: School Board Powers and Duties 

Read a more in-depth breakdown of what the bill does

IASB registered opposed to the bill due to its creation of a voucher program, expansion of charter schools, and the elimination of voluntary diversity plans. Public funds should stay with public schools who have specific reporting and accountability measures to ensure taxpayer dollars are efficiently spent. The bill passed the Senate on a 26-21 vote.   

SF 174 – Certified Individuals Carrying Guns in Schools: This bill allows certain peace officers and emergency medical providers to carry a gun on school grounds if the EMT is part of a police tactical unit. The medical provider would have to train with the police tactical unit, complete all the required firearm and safety courses.  

IASB registered neutral on the bill because these individuals have professional liability insurance that covers them, and they must undergo additional training. The bill passed unanimously out of the Senate Judiciary committee.  

SF 183 – Construction Manager At-Risk: This bill creates a new option for bidding public construction processes called construction manager at-risk. The bill: 

  • Prohibits fee-based selection of an architect, landscape architect, or engineer.
  • Allows a governmental entity (school districts included) to use a guaranteed maximum price for a public improvement contract.
  • Outlines requests for statements of qualifications and requests for proposals. It gives governmental entities specific guidelines on the timeline necessary to complete these steps and where requests should be advertised, and the public process by which the district picks its contractors. 

IASB registered neutral on the bill as it adds more options for districts as they look for different avenues during the construction process. The bill passed the Senate on a 28-19 vote.  

SF 218 – Public Records Requests: This bill states any fees that a body would charge for examination of public records shall be “reasonable”. The bill also states that legal charges for the redaction of records cannot be included in the fee someone is charged to examine a public record. 

IASB registered in opposition to the bill because the district would now be responsible for paying legal fees if a document needed redaction. This is a burdensome expense if a large quantity of documents were asked to be reviewed. The bill passed the Senate State Government committee.  

SF 260 – Medicaid Reimbursement: This bill requires a receiving district to provide information and documentation to the sending district for Medicaid eligible services in the case of an open enrolled student who receives special education services.  

IASB registered in support of this bill because it creates a clear process for districts when this situation arises. The bill was passed by the Senate Education committee. 

SF 265 – Student Retention: This bill allows parents to request their child be retained at their current grade level during the 2020-21 school year if they did not make adequate educational progress. The bill was amended by the committee to eliminate language allowing a student to then switch grade levels mid-year.  

IASB registered neutral on the bill because most districts currently have a process in place for this and it could create logistical issues switching grade levels during the year. The bill passed the Senate on a 43-5 vote. 

SF 289/HSB 146 – Education Flexibility: This bill updates or eliminates several provisions in law to give school boards and AEAs additional flexibility. These provisions include:

  • Updates the threshold AEAs must meet to request approval from the Department of Education when entering into a purchase or lease agreement to the competitive bid threshold.
  • Reduces publication requirements AEAs must meet when posting their budget to their website and a newspaper of general circulation.
  • Extends a board presidents term an additional month in even numbered years to help close the prior fiscal years’ books in a timely manner.
  • Eliminates duplicative reporting for districts on dues paid to IASB and a report on community strategies for early literacy. IASB already collects dues information and will report it to the Department of Education.
  • Allows district flexibility to deposit proceeds from a sale of a school building to any account after holding a public hearing.
  • Eliminates requirement boards must publish an additional meeting notice before entering into a loan agreement on equipment purchases as boards already publish their agendas.
  • Eliminates the energy audit report districts submit every five years. 

IASB registered in support of the bill and brought these issues forward after hearing from school boards and AEAs on ways to provide additional flexibility. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 48-0. 

SF 328 – Health Care Providers in Extracurricular Activities: This bill adds occupational therapists to the list of providers that can make determinations on brain and concussion injury policies. The current list of providers helps decide when a student should be removed from athletics or returned to an extracurricular activity due to concussion concerns. 

IASB registered neutral on the bill as it provides districts flexibility in providing care for students during athletic events. The bill passed the Senate Education committee. 

SF 409 – Filing Complaints to Iowa Public Information Board: This bill expands the number of days someone has to file a complaint with he Iowa Public Information Board from sixty to ninety days.  

IASB registered opposed to the bill as it places additional burdens on districts to track and record correspondence on any complaints that may be filed for an additional thirty days. The bill was approved by the Senate State Government Committee. 

SF 425 – Expanding Definition of Open Meetings
: This bill expands the definition of the open meetings law to include budgetary meetings. The bill was amended in committee to allow posting of a notice to a district's website and to eliminate the requirement that the district personally notify anyone who requests such notification of an upcoming meeting. It also ensures that a personnel or student matter qualifies as a good cause exemption on issuing a 24-hour notice.

IASB originally registered opposed to the bill but with the committee amendments, will change its registration to neutral. The amendment eliminated proposed changes that would be difficult for school districts to administer and clarified what constitutes a good cause exemption. The bill was approved by the Senate State Government committee. 

Bills Signed Into Law by Governor Reynolds

SF 160 – School Instruction Options: This bill requires a district to offer a 100% in-person education instruction option. Parents will have five days after notification by the district to select 100% in person for their child.   Districts maintain the authority to seek a waiver to less than primarily in person instruction and include the number of teachers absent due to Covid-19 as well as shortages of substitutes, food service workers and bus drivers.  Districts must provide 100% in person instruction to those who request it on the first Monday two weeks after enactment (February 15). Districts who do not comply cannot count those days toward their instructional hours.

IASB registered neutral on this bill and worked with legislators to provide districts additional flexibility to obtain a waiver to move to online learning and to extend the compliance deadline. Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law on January 29, 2021.

SF 269 – Supplemental State Aid: This bill sets the supplemental state aid (SSA) rate at 2.4%. The bill includes an additional $10 to close the district cost per pupil gap and provides $800,000 in additional money to buy districts down to statewide average for transportation costs.  

IASB opposed the original Senate bill but changed its registration to neutral with the House amendment. The bill passed the House on a 56-36 vote and passed the Senate on a 31-18 vote. Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law on Feb. 23, 2021.