The Senate Education Committee today voted to send S1331 to the full Senate. This is the bill proposed by Sen. Dean Cameron (R-Rupert) to force the Legislature to fully fund the pay-for-performance and technology mandates required by last year’s S1110 and S1184.
Cameron – who voted no on all three laws brought by State Superintendent Tom Luna last session – said he brought the bill at the urging of many colleagues because public schools must always be “our first and fundamental priority to fund.” He said the bill carries a $34 million fiscal impact, most of it in the next two years.
Cameron noted that the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (which he co-chairs) is eyeing 2 percent raises for all public employees except teachers, but it is more important to backfill the 4.05 percent loss to salary-based apportionment scheduled for FY 2013. He added that Luna asked JFAC to backfill that shift, but just for FY2013. He also reminded the committee that classified employees are not eligible for bonus pay under S1184, so his proposal will help keep both certified and classified employees on the job.
Idaho Education Association President Penni Cyr testified in support of S1331, though she noted that it does not come close to remedying the myriad issues that educators and parents had with the three laws passed last year. Here’s what Penni had to say:
We believe the three education bills passed last year were flawed from the start because the state did not work with educators –people who are in the classroom every day – to create reform that truly puts students first.
All three laws are on the November ballot as Propositions 1, 2, and 3, and we Idahoans will have the chance to vote NO to overturn them because leaving the laws on the books will mean larger class sizes and fewer teachers wanting to work in Idaho.
If, however, these laws remain in effect, SB 1331 would provide a small correction to the faulty funding mechanism that is now taking money from teacher salaries to fund technology mandates and pay-for-performance.
The funding mechanism is far from our only problem with the new laws, as we’ve noted. These laws strip away local control, take away teachers’ voices, and are not based on research or real-world experience about how children learn.
In other news today:
• H481, the bill to lift charter school caps, passed the House by a 49-19 vote. It now moves to the Senate Education Committee. The bill was opposed in committee last week by the IEA, the Idaho School Boards Association, and the Idaho Association of School Administrators.
• The House Education Committee printed three new bills. One, brought by Rep. Mack Shirley (R-Rexburg) is a compromise to extend the 97 percent funding protection for districts with enrollment declines, but to spread the cost among districts. (The state is picking up the tab this year.) Two other bills brought by the State Department of Education would increase the background check fee for education employees and volunteers from $40 to $55 and align the online classes required by last year’s S1184 to state standards.
• House Ed also passed H579, the bill introduced by Rep. Scott Bedke (R-Oakley) to extend the rights of administrators and teachers to come out of retirement without sacrificing benefits earned through the Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho.
• The Senate Education Committee delayed consideration of Rep. Steve Thayn’s “8-in-6” credit acceleration bill, H426, until Thursday while potential amendments are refined.