More Than A Dozen Bills Printed Today; Even More Bills Coming Tomorrow
The Senate Education Committee printed a total of 14 bills this afternoon, and the House Education Committee is set to print three additional bills tomorrow (http://www.legislature.idaho.gov/sessioninfo/2013/standingcommittees/hed.pdf).
Two of those bills printed this afternoon are sponsored by the Idaho Education Association. The following brief synopsis of each of the bills printed this afternoon, will be followed up tomorrow with a much more detailed description of the legislation and the impact it will have.
The IEA bills would:
- Require all negotiations between teachers and school boards be held in public. The language comes directly from Proposition 1.
- Amend the Financial Emergency law. The proposed changes would allow qualifying local school districts to reopen the master contract, if their funding is reduced in future years due to state cuts or failed supplemental levies. Additionally, this bill would require RIF decisions be made by the local school board and require the board to adopt a policy establishing how to recall individuals who were subject of a RIF.
The ISBA bills reprinted today would:
- Limit all contracts to one year with regard to salaries, benefits and any items with direct or indirect cost to the school district; all other portions of the agreement could be extended for no more than two years.
- Require the local association to prove that they represent 50% + 1 of the professional employees in the district in negotiations, should the district request such information and would allow either party to call for mediation, as long as the mediation was completed before June 10th.
- Require that if a district puts an employee on involuntary paid administrative leave, the district will have 60 days to investigate the matter; stop paying the salary and benefits of any employee if a court order prevents the employee from carrying out his or her contractual duties; give the board sole authority to reduce or increase contract days and/or reduce or increase the salary of employees for any reason or no reason whatsoever and further deny an individual due process hearing for affected employees.
Other Bills printed today would:
- Require students to provide proof that they are maintaining satisfactory academic progress to obtain a driver’s license.
- Shift $7.5 million of transportation funding to discretionary funding.
- Direct Idaho schools to provide one school counselor for every 325 students.
- Establish that the maximum student-teacher ratio at 18 for grades K-3, 22 students per teacher in grades 4-8, and 26 students per teacher in grades 9-12.
- Provide incentives for districts of 5,000 or fewer students to consolidate services with other contiguous districts.
- Create stable, long-term funding for Idaho Digital Learning Academy (IDLA), establishes a portal for online classes, and re-establishes dual credit program.
- Repeal the Early Retirement Incentive Program for teachers; this is pulled directly from Prop 1.
- Provide extra funding to hire math and science teachers
- Prevent school districts from using their district funds to educate out-of-state students who are placed in Idaho group homes.
We’ll report on the remaining bills being introduced in the House Education Committee in tomorrow’s update.
Committees Listen to the Public
Nearly 400 Idaho citizens streamed into the Statehouse, filling the Capitol Auditorium to standing room only and overflowing into two additional committee rooms. During the two hour “listening session” dozens of citizens spoke to legislators about school funding stability, adequate and equitable funding for all school districts, class size, the labor laws being considered this session, education reform, teacher morale, the use of technology in schools, and charter school funding.
More than 100 educators attended today’s hearing and many of them signed up to testify. However, as today was ISBA’s Annual “Day on the Hill,” a great number of local superintendents and school board members dominated the two-hour timeframe, leaving time for very few teachers and education employees to have three minutes in front of the committee. Nevertheless, a handful of parents and teachers did get a chance to address lawmakers about the decisions that will be made over the next few months that risk negatively impacting our schools and our students.
Special accolades to IEA members Sandy Merrick (Boise Education Association), Gail Chumbly (Meridian Education Association), John McCrostie (Boise Education Association), and Jerry Helgeson (Retired Meridian Education Association member and former MEA President) . Thank you for eloquently speaking out and representing your students and your colleagues across the state.