The House Education Committee approved legislation that would allow the state's charter schools to tap into the bond levy equalization fund that backs a small part of voter-approved building bonds for school districts. According to the sponsor Rep. Reed DeMordaunt (R-Eagle), HB 663 which was introduced to print on Tuesday, would cost $370,000—or 2%–of the $17.4 million targeted for the Bond Levy Equalization Fund in the FY 13 budget.
In debate against the measure, Rep. Brian Cronin (D-Boise) pointed out that the bill would allow the board of a charter school to tap the fund while traditional school districts need to get two-thirds of their voters to approve a bond levy vote before they can access the fund.
The bill now moves to the House for final consideration.
The Senate voted 22-12 to pass HB 481, the measure that will lift both the six-per-year cap and the one-per-school district cap on charter schools. Charter school proponents claim that the current caps makes it unlikely that potential donors will provide funding to Idaho charter schools. They argue that removing the caps will allow them to access both governmental and private grants for current and future charter schools. The bill now moves to Governor Otter’s desk for his signature.
The Senate also passed SB 1358a, Sen. Nicole LeFavour’s (D-Boise) anti-bullying bill, by a wide margin of 25-8. This bill, supported by the IEA, more clearly defines bullying and cyberbullying, requires school districts to create and post written policies and train staff on how to stop bullying. This bill now moves to the House. Interestingly, a similar bullying bill was held up in the House last session.
It’s Not Dead Yet
In a move that is typical of the “horse trading” that can occur toward the end of the session, we learned late this afternoon that HB 495 is not dead after all. You’ll recall that we reported yesterday that this legislation, which would significantly shorten timelines for the Idaho Land Board to make decisions regarding the acquisition and disposal of land in the best interest of the beneficiaries and limit the Land Board’s ability to diversify investments and maximize returns through the acquisition of business entities, was presumably dead for the year when no one on the committee made a motion on the legislation. Apparently, the bill will be reconsidered tomorrow afternoon by members of the Senate Resources and Conservation Committee, where it is listed on the agenda for “discussion.”