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Top school districts could become exempt on reports to state

The Mississippi House voted Monday to exempt top-rated school districts from having to report information about curriculum and some other matters to the state Department of Education.

House Bill 1224 also would allow A- and B-rated districts to offer financial incentives to teachers.

Some lower-rated school districts have difficulty attracting teachers, and current state law lets them forgive student loans and provide housing assistance and moving expenses.

The bill would allow higher-rated districts to offer the same types of incentives. Rep. John Hines, D-Greenville, said that would let top teachers move away from districts that are rated C, D or F.

“This is free agency gone buck wild,” Hines said.

“You’re going to have teachers jumping around, going to the other team…. ‘Who’s going to pay me the most? Who’s going to set me free? Who’s going to give me a championship?”’

Rep. Brad Touchstone, R-Hattiesburg, said the bill aims to ease “burdensome” bureaucracy for high-performing districts.

“It is really not that helpful when we know they are doing a good job,” Touchstone said.

The bill says A- and B-rated districts would not have to report student grades to the state, undergo annual audits of their discipline plan or code of student conduct, and complete surveys from the Department of Education.

They would be exempt from a textbook selection process established by the state, and teachers in the districts would not have to fulfill continuing education requirements to renew their licenses.

Individual schools within the districts would not have to submit reports to their own local superintendent about the type and amount of work done in each grade.

The bill passed the House 79-40, with significant opposition from Democrats. It moves to the Senate for more work.

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