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Support builds for Local Control School Flexibility Act

Grass-roots support and endorsement by top Alabama business leaders is growing for the Local Control School Flexibility Act (House Bill 84 – HB84, Senate Bill 54 – SB54).

Among its policy provisions, the act would return authority to local school boards to define school year calendars. In 2012, legislation was passed that requires school to start no earlier than Aug. 20 and to end before Memorial Day. Proponents claim that the shortened school year calendar will boost Alabama tourism revenue.

In support of HB84/SB54, a broad coalition has formed to support policies that reward innovation and creativity to strategically meet diverse needs of Alabama’s public school students, Denise Berkhalter said in a press release from the Alabama Association of School Boards. Berkhalter is the association’s director of public relations.

This coalition also includes the Alabama Association of School Business Officials, Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools, A+ Education Partnership and Business Council of Alabama. State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice and school superintendents also are endorsing the bill.

Meeting all students’ diverse educational needs is important to strengthening Alabama’s workforce, the coalition said.

“The act specifically safeguards employees’ protections earned under tenure, minimum state salary schedule, civil rights and health and safety regulations,” Berkhalter said in the release. “For any local innovation plan proposal, the bill requires public scrutiny through a strict approval process.”

The flexibility act would enhance Plan 2020, the State Board of Education’s long-range policy for schools with grades K-12. The state board allows local schools to request relief from certain rules and regulations.

With this law, a local superintendent must recommend and a local school board must approve a flexibility proposal. The proposal process requires community input, identified goals for student performance and increased accountability measures to justify waiving specific statutes or regulations.

Flexibility proposals require a school district to annual review accountability measures and follow five-year performance targets. The State Department of Education can periodically review and revoke the flexibility contracts.

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