In unveiling his hastily reworked education overhaul plan today – mere days after the Senate Education Committee sent it back for “small corrections” – Superintendent Tom Luna showed he took this order literally.
The biggest changes were to Luna’s School Modernization and Reform bill. Among other things, the new legislation scales back the online course requirement from six to four and would allow high schools more flexibility on when to provide mobile computing devices, rather than requiring that they be given to 9th graders. It also changes language related to fractional Average Daily Attendance payments to online course providers.
The tweaked legislation did nothing to address concern over larger class sizes; the divisors that mean districts will be funded for fewer staff members remain exactly the same as in his initial proposals. Luna and Jason Hancock, his aide, said it will be up to districts to figure out how to make the math work. For example, they said they’ve heard teachers say they’d rather take a pay cut to keep class sizes manageable, or principals may need to teach a class or two.
The Labor Relations and Employee Entitlements bill is every bit as bad for teachers as it was before. The new version made very few changes other than to combine contract categories; allow performance evaluations to be done by a superintendent’s designee; and further clarify that a teacher who is not afforded an evaluation cannot sue the district for monetary damages. (Instead, the teacher could file a lawsuit seeking an injunction and demand that an evaluation be completed.)
Earlier in the day, the Department of Education indicated there might be a total of five bills, but by mid-afternoon, three emerged. Luna has placed his proposed pay-for-performance plan into a separate bill. The Senate Education Committee started analyzing the bills page by page today and will resume that effort, probably on Wednesday. All three bills will have new numbers this week.
Sen. Nicole LeFavour (D-Boise) asked Chairman John Goedde (R-Coeur d’Alene) whether there will be any public testimony taken on the bills. Goedde said he intends to invite closing statements from stakeholder groups, but there won’t be any major public hearings like we saw last week.