Listen to IEA President Penni Cyr, Executive Director Robin Nettinga and Director of Public Policy Matt Compton discussing the significant outcomes of the recently concluded legislative session and what they mean for professional educators.

 

 

The Senate began the 74th day of the session on Thursday with an appeal from Majority Leader Sen. Bart Davis (R-Idaho Falls) that they work diligently all day and adjourn sine die by the end of the day.

Senators completed a bevy of legislative action in the race to clear their calendars and go home, including floor debate, a committee meeting, and a majority caucus meeting.

In the House, lawmakers needed to plow their way through over three dozen bills before they would be able to adjourn for the final time.

Idaho Statesman Reporter Dan Popkey reports on the cost of running the legislature and length of each session over the past decade.

The Senate suspended their rules and took up debate on the public school budget for FY 15 prior to taking a noon lunch break. They passed five of them: HB’s 637 “Division of Administrators”, 638 “Division of Teachers”, 639 “Division of Operations”, 640 “Division of Children’s Programs”, 641 “Division of Facilities” before the lunch break.

The newest section of the overall public schools budget, HB 643 “Division of Central Services” also breezed through the approval process later in the afternoon.

The bills will now make their way to Governor Otter’s desk. The governor is expected to sign them in the next week or so.

Six separate bills that will direct funding for public schools next year were printed on Wednesday morning and the House of Representatives approved the measures late Wednesday afternoon. The bill are now headed to the full Senate for their approval. These funding bills are the final piece of business the IEA is following this session. Once the legislature dispenses with these bills and a few other smaller appropriations, the legislature will be able to adjourn sine die.

All indications continue to point to a Friday, March 21 adjournment.

This year, K-12 funding is broken down into six separate bills. These separate bills, all combined, make up the $1.6 billion public school budget for FY 15.

HB 637 provides $79.7 million to fund the “Division of Administrators.” Included in this measure is a 1% increase on the base salary allocation for administrative positions and funding to provide for school district strategic planning. This piece of legislation represents a 2% increase for next year.

HB 638 will provide $770 million to the “Division of Teachers.” Aside from a 1% increase to base salary allocation, this piece of legislation also provides $15.8 million for leadership awards and $8.25 million for professional development. This legislation represents a 1.5% increase in funding for next year.

HB 639 provides $534.9 million to the “Division of Educational Support” program, a 7.1% increase over last year’s budget. The FY 15 budget includes a 1% increase to the non-certificated employee base salary allocation, includes an increase of $35 million to begin restoring discretionary funding to districts, $8 million in ongoing funding for classroom technology funding and $3 million in one-time funding for the second year of the technology pilot projects that were introduced last legislative session.

HB 640 represents the “Children’s Program Division” of the FY 15 public school budget. The allocation levels in this budget remain essentially unchanged from FY 14.

HB 641 is the “Facilities Division” of the public schools budget, which addresses bond levy equalization and the use of lottery funds.

HB 643, the “Central Services Division” of the public schools budget provides $16.8 million. This is the newest section of the public schools budget. It includes primarily those moneys that are expended at the state level for the benefit of all school districts. This budget includes funding for WiFi services, funding for School Net, and funding for technology education opportunities for high school students and faculty to prepare students to be career and college-ready.

Tuesday morning the Senate concurred with House amendments to SB 1232.

SB 1232 will assure that a school bus driver who is working within the scope of his or her duties will not be civilly or criminally liable for reasonably acting to aid a rider on the bus whom the school bus driver reasonably believes to be in imminent danger of harm or injury.

This final legislative procedural action now clears the way for the bill to make its way to Governor Otter’s desk.

In what will hopefully be their final funding decision of the 2014 session, members of the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee have voted unanimously to allocate $90,000 to the Legislative Services Office to conduct service audits of the Idaho Education Network and the state high school WiFi contract.

Legislative staff told committee members that the audits are intended to determine the specific services being provided to districts, their cost, and the districts’ level of satisfaction with the services provided by Education Networks of America, the company that has been contracted by the state for both of these projects.

Following a second round of amendments, the House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill on Monday, sponsored by the IEA, that would amend Idaho law to shield a school bus driver from civil or criminal liability in the event he or she comes to the aid of a rider who may be in danger.

SB 1232aa now returns to the full Senate. If they concur with the amendments made by the House, the bill will make its way to the Governor’s desk for his signature. If the Senate rejects the House amendments, the bill will be dead for the 2014 session.

All signals point to the legislature easily completing their work and adjourning sine die this week.

Leadership announced on Monday that they are pushing for a final adjournment before week’s end.

Except for a few straggling bills, most measures are either slated for a vote this week or have been secured in a dark desk drawer of a committee chairman for the remainder of the session. Most legislative committees are scheduled to meet “at the call of the chair”; a clear signal that their work is completed for this session.

A quick review of the calendar shows fewer than three dozen bills for the House of Representatives to act on and the Senate calendar is approximately the same length. Lawmakers can slog through debate and decision-making on that many bills during a busy legislative day.

Most education-related legislation has been dealt with, or is on the fast track to be completed. Only the public schools appropriation bill has yet to be printed and sent to the floor. Once that very complex bill has been printed and begins working its way through the floor process, its passage is not expected to be problematic.

Both the House and Senate met Friday morning to continue whittling down the list of bills as they work their way toward a March 21 deadline. Both the House and Senate adjourned by noon on Friday. It is not uncommon for legislators to meet well into the afternoon on Fridays at this time in the session. The short list of bills and the inactivity of most committees signals that, short of a significant hiccup on one or more pieces of legislation, lawmakers should be able to complete their work and adjourn sine die by Friday, March 21st.

Here is an update regarding of some of the pieces of legislation the IEA has been following this session:

 

BILL #

TOPIC

WHAT DOES IT DO?

WHERE IS IT?

HB 379 Teacher Awards Would create a legislative teacher’s award (certificate and $500) to be presented annually in each legislative district. Senate Ed
HB 477 Criminal History Checks Would allow the SDE to charge individuals an additional $7.50 to cover the cost of fingerprinting. House Education
HB 501 ESP Grievances Amends ESP grievance law to itemize those issues which can be grieved and adds required problem-solving step. To Governor
HB 504 Leadership Premiums Would provide for leadership premium payments to public school educators who serve in a leadership capacity. LAW
HB 507 Educational Tax Credits Would provide tax credits to individuals and corporations that make donations to scholarship granting organizations (SGOs) for students to attend private or parochial schools. Senate Local Government and Taxation
HB 521 District Strategic Planning Requires all school districts to create and post on their website, a strategic plan that focuses on improving student performance. The measure also provides up to $2,000 per district for training of school boards in strategic planning, governance, finance, ethics, and superintendent evaluation. To Governor
HB 556 Teacher Evaluations Requires student and parent input into teacher evaluations and increases, over time, the percentage of student achievement and reduces, over time, the percentage of professional practice that must be considered in teacher evaluations. Senate Ed Committee
HB 557 Use It or Lose It Provides mechanism for reducing flexibility on Use It or Lose It funding school districts have had for the past five years. To Governor
HB 567 Parental Rights Establishes parental rights and obligations for their children’s education Senate Ed
SB 1317 Reduction in Force Extends Sunset date to July 1, 2015 on law that seniority cannot be the only factor used when considering a reduction in force. To Governor
SB 1318 Evergreen Clause Extends Sunset date to July 1, 2015 on law that limits all contracts to one year with regard to salaries and benefits; all other portions of the agreement can be extended for no more than two years and also eliminates Fact Finding. To Governor
SB 1319 Reduction of Days/Salaries Extends Sunset date to July 1, 2015 on law giving the local school board sole authority to reduce or increase contract days and/or reduce or increase the salary of employees for any reason or no reason whatsoever and further deny an individual due process hearing for affected employees. To Governor
SB 1326 Class Size Reporting Requires the SDE to collect and report data on class size and pupil-teacher ratios. To Governor
SB 1327 Life-Threatening Allergies in Schools Authorizes schools to voluntarily train staff, provide guidelines for the use of, and maintain a supply of epinephrine auto-injectors for use in situations where students or staff may be suffering a life-threatening allergic reaction. To Governor
SB 1232 School Bus Driver Immunity Amends law to shield a school bus driver from civil or criminal liability in the event he or she comes to the aid of a rider who may be in danger House 3rd Reading Calendar
SB 1342 District Court Appeals Amends law to allow districts to augment the record for on an appeal to the District Court in teacher dismissal cases House 3rd Reading Calendar
SB 1343 Curriculum and Testing Would require that the legislature ratify in law, any agreement between the SBE or the SDE and any multistate consortium or the federal government concerning testing or K-12 students. Senate Ed
SB 1372 Data Collection Outlines the types of data public schools may collect and limits the use and distribution of that data. House 2nd Reading Calendar
SB 1377 Website Reporting Clarifies that local school districts, not the state, adopt curricular materials. To Governor
SB 1396 Assessment Item Review Committee Creates a 30-member committee of parents, teachers, administrators, school board members, SDE, SBE to review SBAC test items for social engineering and assures Idaho “maintains its sovereignty with respect to education of our children.” House Education Committee