House Education Committee members voted unanimously on Tuesday to hold HB442 for one week and encouraged the Idaho School Boards Association to work on a compromise that would address the concerns raised by opponents and make the bill more palatable for lawmakers.
Under HB 442, the district would be allowed to issue a supplemental contract to teachers who require additional days to complete their contract work. When questioned by legislators, ISBA Executive Director Karen Echeverria acknowledged that under this proposal, there is no guarantee that these educators would receive their daily rate of pay under the supplemental contract. Librarians, counselors, professional-technical teachers, speech and language pathologists and any other educator who requires extra days to complete their contracted job could be impacted.
IEA General Counsel Paul Stark, testifying for the Association, joined a representative of state Vo-Ag teachers in opposing the legislation. Stark pointed out that districts already have a great deal of flexibility in reducing or eliminating extra contract days for these teachers, if necessary. He further pointed out that this legislation could make it even more difficult to recruit teachers to rural districts.
The IEA will work with ISBA and others over the next week to hammer out a compromise.
Rural Education Centers Funding Questioned
One of the major differences in the education budget proposals presented by Superintendent Sherri Ybarra and Governor Otter concerns Ybarra’s request for $300,000 to start up rural education centers. At least two prominent legislators said Tuesday that they need more specifics before moving forward with the concept.
In a JFAC meeting that focused on education budgets, House Education Committee Chairman Reed DeMourdant (R-Eagle) praised Supt. Ybarra for her willingness to think outside of the box for solutions to Idaho’s education issues. But, as he made a presentation to JFAC on Tuesday morning, he told committee members that her current proposal lacks detail. JFAC member Rep. Wendy Horman (R-Idaho Falls) also questioned the lack of information about the rural education centers.
In her presentation to JFAC earlier in the session, Supt. Ybarra painted the rural education centers idea in broad strokes, envisioning a regional hub where rural districts could share resources and ideas. Last week, she was joined by a colleague from Washington state who presented more details about how our neighboring state uses these centers. You can read more about today’s JFAC meeting from Idaho Education News.
Supt. Ybarra has not introduced any specific legislation regarding her rural education center idea yet this session. Why might this be important? Legislative rules limit only a few committees to introduce bills after the 36th day of the session. Monday marked that important date.
3% Raise Recommended for State Workers
The Joint CEC (Change in Employee Compensation) Committee today recommended 3% merit-based raises for state employees. JFAC unanimously accepted the recommendation on Tuesday. Idaho trails most other states in compensation for state workers, but legislators highlighted an upward trend in the last couple of years as the economy has recovered from the recession.
It is important to remember that teachers and other professional educators are not categorized as state employees and do not fall under this JFAC decision. The Career Ladder legislation that was passed last year dictates the funding appropriation that districts will receive to be used for teacher salaries; however, the actual salary that teachers receive is negotiated at the local level. Both Governor Otter and Superintendent Ybarra have proposed budgets that would fully fund the second year of the Career Ladder appropriation. JFAC will begin setting state budgets, including K-12 education, over the next couple of weeks.