Encouraging innovation in Alabama’s schools is a top priority for legislative leaders and for educators around the state who have long sought relief from one-size-fits-all state mandates. The Local Control and School Flexibility Act sponsored by Rep. Chad Fincher and Senator Bill Holtzclaw, allows local systems to create innovative learning environments unique to their local communities in exchange for greater accountability.
The Act would allow school systems to develop and propose innovations to best serve local students while maintaining a commitment to the State Board of Educations’ standards, assessment and accountability provisions. Development of plans must include public input, and proposals must detail which state laws are requested to be waived for which schools. Proposals must have an annual accountability plan with five-year targets and each request for a waiver must demonstrate a tie to improving student achievement.
Schools would not be able to waive laws involving the health and safety, civil rights, financial reporting regulations or employee’s protections earned under tenure, nor could they pay teachers less than the state’s minimum salary.
The Act is aligned with the State Board of Education’s Plan 2020 and the stated goal of ensuring each Alabama student graduates prepared for college and a career in the 21st Century.
A similar bill did not succeed in the last session. It was overshadowed by the Education Options Act of 2012 that combined similar elements of flexibility for traditional school systems with provisions to allow for public charter schools. This flexibility bill, HB84, has nothing to do with public charter schools, and only involves flexibility for traditional public schools.