State lawmakers are considering a bill that would cap public school class sizes at 20 students and increase the new teacher salary to $55,000 per year.
The measure, filed as Senate Bill 2105, was introduced by Sen. Josh Green, D-Kona, Ka‘u. It would take effect in the 2018-19 school year. Currently, new state Department of Education teachers with a bachelor’s degree earn between $35,962 and $50,333, depending on their prior experience and whether they’ve completed a state-approved, teacher certification program.
Green’s bill cleared a first reading and is one of several dozen education bills introduced during this year’s legislative session.
Other education bills, if they become law, would:
• Require a minimum 30-minute period for students to eat lunch.
• Require the DOE to provide meals to students at public charter schools.
• Appropriate funds to the DOE to create a suicide prevention mobile application with 24-hour per day crisis support services.
• Create a DOE farm-to-school program.
• Establish a composting grant pilot project in public schools.
• Prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression and sexual orientation in any state educational program or activity that receives state funding.
• Increase the general excise and use tax by 0.5 percent for six years to serve as a dedicated funding source for the DOE, along with state programs addressing homelessness.
• Add a nonvoting, public school teacher representative to the state Board of Education.
• Require at least 20 percent of the total general fund per-pupil request be allocated for special education.
• Limit the number of standardized state tests a student takes each year.
• Require the DOE to maintain a list of priority schools in need of classroom cooling and allow those schools to apply for grants for cooling projects.
• Develop a statewide, public computer science curricula.
• Add interior locks to all classroom doors and mandate all schools have emergency management plans that are updated yearly.
• Allow public school students to opt out of dissection, vivisection and other “harmful” animal procedures and participate instead in alternative projects.
• Establish requirements for parents who want to home-school their child.
• Increase the fine to $1,000 for overtaking a school bus on a state highway, if the bus is stopped and its signals are turned on.
• Allow school principals to close their school due to natural disaster without needing to consult the complex area superintendent first.
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