The Alabama Legislature passed the Alabama Accountability Act, which is a new name for the Local School Flexibility Act passed by the House last week. After entering into a joint conference committee Thursday, the bill received about 20 pages of new provisions, including tax credits to families with children in failing school districts.
The Alabama Accountability Act does the following:
- Local school systems can apply for a waiver from certain state mandates after the local board holds a public hearing on the potential waiver request, and provides the state assurance that it will adhere to state accountability standards and higher rigor. All waivers must be approved by the State Board of Education and the State Superintendent.
- Failing schools can apply for the flexibility to create a “dual-track” system for teachers, giving them an option of maintaining their tenure or opting out of the tenure program in exchange for higher pay.
- Students assigned to a school system that is “failing” would be eligible for state tax credits to offset the cost of moving to a higher-performing public school or a private school of their choice.
- Businesses and individuals can receive state tax credits for contributing to a 501(c)3 that funds scholarships for students choosing to move from a failing school into a nonfailing public school or private school.
According to the specifics of the bill, the tax credits would be paid for out of a new fund within the Education Trust Fund, which is funded by sales tax revenue. The Governor came out in support of the bill during a news conference on Thursday.