This is reportedly the last week of the 2016 legislative session. Lawmakers spent long hours on the floor amending, debating and voting on bills in an attempt to finalize their work.
House members began their day approving the six bills that make up the FY 17 Public Schools Appropriation:
- HB 617, Division of Administrators, provides a 3% base salary increase for administrators.
- HB 618, Division of Teachers, fully funds the second year of the career ladder compensation system and moves Pupil Services Staff to the ladder, funds academic and college and career advisors and student mentors that was approved last legislative session but left unfunded, and increased teacher professional development funding.
- HB 619, Division of Operations, provides a 3% increase in funding for classified staff, increases operational/discretionary funding levels back to 2009 levels, and increases local technology funding.
- HB 620, Division of Children’s Programs, funds Mastery-Based education pilots and provides funding for professional development for gifted and talented instructors.
- HB 621, Division of Facilities, provides the funding necessary to ensure for the upkeep of buildings and facilities such as the Bond Levy Equalization Program, Charter School Facilities Program, and School Facilities Maintenance Match Program.
- HB 622, Division of Education Services for the Deaf and Blind, funds Idaho’s School for the Deaf and Blind, which provides services to students who live on the Gooding, Idaho campus and also to students educated in Idaho traditional and charter public schools.
- HB 623, Division of Central Services, provides those funding for those services that the state delivers on behalf of school districts through various contracts and vendors.
These bills now move to the Senate for their consideration.
House Approves Bible in Schools Bill
House members returned from a lunch break and spent more than an hour debating SB 1342a, Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll’s (R-Cottonwood) bill assuring the use of the Bible and other religious texts in public schools. After a failed procedural tactic to try and get the bill moved to the amending order to remove the word “Bible” and an almost-assured legal challenge, House members voted overwhelmingly, 54-15-1, in favor of SB 1342a. Only Rep. Fred Wood (R-Burley) and Rep. Lance Clow (R-Twin Falls) joined Democrats in opposing the legislation.
Leadership Premium Amendments Problematic
The House Education Committee is expected to consider HB 627 on Tuesday.
The IEA opposes HB 627 for several reasons. Last legislative session we worked diligently to ensure every teacher would be eligible to receive a leadership award. HB 627 will require that districts increase the minimum award for every staff member to $900; however, districts will not receive increased funding to meet this requirement. This action taints the agreement that ensured IEA support of the career ladder law.
Additionally, HB 627 adds Career and Technical educators to the list of teachers who may be provided a leadership award. The IEA will argue that while these educators may be teaching in “hard to fill” positions, the language is duplicative and therefore unnecessary.
Senate Approves Innovation Schools Act
Late Monday afternoon, the Senate passed HB 570, the Local School Innovation Act sponsored by Rep. Wendy Horman (R-Idaho Falls). IEA opposes this legislation which will allow up to 10 traditional schools or charter schools to waive education laws, rules, and local school board policies in exchange for implementing innovative plans to improve student achievement.
In earlier testimony, IEA Director of Public Policy Matt Compton had urged that the legislature allow the State Board of Education to work with stakeholders over the interim to review Idaho laws, state rules, and policies that cause barriers to local innovation and autonomy. As he reminded lawmakers, process is incredibly important in order to foster real innovation and eliminate doubt, concern and confusion.
The bill now heads to the Governor for his signature.