The Chamber's Education Committee reconvened at the offices of ChanceLight Behavioral Health and Education for their third meeting of the 2015-2016 school year in February. ChanceLight President and CEO Mark Claypool welcomed committee members and explained his company's work as the nation’s leading provider of behavioral therapy and alternative and special education programs for children and young adults.
The February meeting focused on an in-depth discussion of legislative issues. Committee members were excited to have a Q&A with Rep. Mark White, chair of the Tennessee House of Representatives' Education Administration and Planning Committee. The meeting also provided status updates on the Chamber's state and Metro legislative priorities, which include the following bills:
- HB 1485/SB 1899 – Quality Pre-K – With the surprising and inadequate results of the Vanderbilt study that was released last September, this bill is a proactive approach to improving the pre-K program in Tennessee. As school districts annually apply for pre-K dollars, this bill will require them to do the following: have a plan for parental/family involvement; have a plan for professional development; have a plan for collaboration between pre-K educators and elementary school educators; and utilize the portfolio growth model as the evaluation of performance.
- HB 2022/SB 1953 – Bus on Shoulders – This bill enables TDOT to explore the option of allowing mass transit buses to travel on the shoulders of certain highways and interstates when traffic is congested. Several other states have implemented such programs, and they have proven to be safe, cost-efficient measures for addressing traffic issues.
- HB 2407/SB 2093 – P3 Initiatives – This bill outlines the program and requirements of public-private partnerships with transportation projects. Tennessee faces many obstacles with improving and funding its infrastructure for mass transit, and this option allows the state and local governments to partner with the private sector to address these needs. Several other states and countries have found these arrangements to be effective and beneficial for both the public and private sectors.
We look forward to our final meeting of the 2015-2016 academic year, where committee members will focus on the progress the district has made on implementing the five key recommendations from the Chamber's 2015 Education Report Card.