Compared to the House Education Innovation Policy Committee, the Senate Education Committee took longer, entertained more amendments and made more changes in the last hours of their omnibus education policy bill (SF 1495) on Friday — all under a threat by Chair Sen. Chuck Wiger that the mark-up could go into Saturday.
The mark-up brought some contentious debate when an amendment was offered that would eliminate the Gov. Mark Dayton’s test-reduction proposal and replace it with limiting the number of hours students could spend on standardized testing. The amendment to the amendment would have set a maximum of 34 hours of standardized testing on average for grades 1 through 6 and 35 hours for grades 7-12. The amendment was withdrawn.
During Thursday’s meeting, in a surprise moment, Sen. Gary Dahms was successful in passing an amendment that would allow school boards to hire nonlicensed, part-time vocational career and technical instructors through June 30, 2020. Approved on a bipartisan vote, this would increase the number of career and technical instructors in a hard-to-fill, high-demand field.
Sen. Terri Bonoff went on the record at being disappointed that her bill (SF 97) —that would have ended the automatic “last in, first out” (LIFO) approach to teacher layoffs — was NOT included in the omnibus bill. There were kind words to chair from the minority party saying there was not strong opposition to the bill and that it was thoughtfully written.
In the end, there we no audible votes in opposition to the 2015 Senate Education Omnibus Policy Bill. SF 1495 will now go to the Senate floor.