House Passes School Flexibility Act

The Alabama House of Representatives on Thursday passed HB 84 by Rep. Chad Fincher, R-Semmes.  The bill, known as the Local Control School Flexibility Act, passed by a vote of 65 to 37 after Rep. Wayne Johnson, R-Madison, made a motion to move the previous question (cloture) which then ended nearly four hours of debate.

The bill would authorize the state Board of Education to allow innovative programs and budgets with approved waivers from certain state laws, and board of education rules, regulations, and policies. A local school board would have to approve an innovation plan that was recommended by its school superintendent to the state Superintendent of Education.

During debate on the House floor, Fincher noted that seeking innovative school status would be voluntary. He said local school boards, superintendents, and parents should have the flexibility to choose innovative schools because they know what works best in their districts.  Fincher also said that opponents who continue to claim that teacher’s rights would be stripped are wrong.

Let’s stop playing politics with education,” Fincher said.  “This is a great step forward in bringing true education reform to Alabama.

Fincher gave the example that under this legislation local school boards would be able to decide that instead of spending money on textbooks, they could use that money instead to purchase iPads.

Rep. Jay Love, R-Montgomery, added that under this bill, school districts would be able to move money in order to save teacher positions.

Opponents of the legislation introduced numerous amendments on the floor to slow down debate.  All of the amendments were tabled.

The Business Council of Alabama continued work with the business education alliance at the State House during today’s activities.  Working together with us to ensure the bill was passed were the Alabama Association of School Boards, the School Superintendents of Alabama, Alabama Association of School Business Officials, A+ Education Partnership, Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools, and the State Department of Education.

The bill now goes to the Senate where Sen. Bill Hotlzclaw, R-Madison, is the sponsor.

– Nathan M. Lindsay and Dana Beyerle