With no debate, the House Education Committee swiftly approved HB 452 on Monday morning. This legislation, sponsored by the State Board of Education and supported by the IEA, removes the limit of the number of accumulated sick leave days an individual may take from one state agency, including school districts, to another. Currently, when an individual moves from one school district to another or from a school district to the SDE or another state agency, they still accumulate PERSI retirement benefits; but, they are only allowed to bring up to 90 days of accumulated sick leave with them to their new job.
The SDE told committee members this limitation has made it difficult for them to recruit experienced staff from school districts, because those individuals fear losing their accumulated sick leave days that are needed to cover the cost of health insurance benefits in retirement.
If HB 452 is approved by the legislature and signed into law by the governor, the 90-day sick leave cap will be lifted, ensuring that any state employee or school district employee will be able to bring all of their accumulated sick leave to their new employer.
Budgeting Process Begins Next Week
Each year, prior to the beginning of the budget-setting process, committee chairs are invited to meet with the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC) to discuss their committee funding priorities for the coming fiscal year. Tuesday, House Education Chair Reed DeMordaunt (R-Eagle) will share his committee members’ priorities. JFAC is set to begin setting budgets on Monday, Feb. 22.
The Superintendent of Public Instruction has requested a $110 million increase for FY 17, and Governor Otter is recommending a $116 million increase. Both proposals would fully fund the second year of the career ladder teacher salary law and return operational/discretionary funding back to 2009 levels. The governor’s budget recommendation focuses on funding his task force recommendations. The superintendent’s budget request includes a significant technology funding increase and money for professional development.
The IEA has consistently supported full funding for the career ladder, additional funding for teacher mentoring, and increasing operational/discretionary funding back to at least 2009 levels. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index, it would take an additional $2,700 per classroom support unit to purchase what districts were able to buy in 2009. Even the increase to 2009 levels will leave school districts scrambling to make ends meet in 2017.
JFAC is scheduled to set the FY 17 public schools budget on February 29th.