The concerted efforts of the IEA, association members, and a broad coalition of people committed to protecting Idaho’s public schools have paid off. HB 590, the private school voucher bill, has been pulled from the legislative agenda and is dead for the 2018 session.
The IEA and other stakeholder groups were informed by the office of Senate Education Committee chairman Sen. Dean Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls, that the committee would not be hearing the bill. HB 590 had tentatively been scheduled for a hearing Wednesday, March 14, with hundreds of IEA members planning to travel to the capitol to oppose the legislation.
“This wouldn’t have been possible without the passion and dedication of IEA members across the state,” says IEA President Kari Overall. “The commitment of our members and other concerned citizens to doing what is right for Idaho students and communities was remarkable, and so greatly appreciated.”
HB 590 had passed the House Education Committee by a 9-7 margin and was approved on the House floor in a 39-31 vote. These legislative votes came despite the IEA and every major education stakeholder group testifying in opposition to the private school voucher bill. If passed, HB 590 would have opened the door for public school funds to be diverted to private and religious schools.
IEA President Kari Overall also shared this statement with media outlets following news that the private school voucher bill had been killed:
“We are glad to hear that the ill-conceived HB 590 has been pulled and will not be moving forward. Our public schools are critical parts of Idaho neighborhoods and communities, and it is imperative that we protect their funding and integrity.
As we have said since HB 590 first surfaced, a private school scholarship program does not need legislative approval or oversight from any government agency. We all recognize the importance of reaching at-risk and special needs students, and Idaho’s public schools will continue striving to meet the needs of every student in every classroom. Investing in our public schools and providing them with the resources they need is the best way to ensure that all students are getting the educational experience they deserve.”
Charter School Administrator Bill Sent to Amending Order
HB 566, which would allow charter schools to hire administrators with just a bachelor’s degree and no education experience whatsoever, was sent to the floor for amendments by the Senate Education Committee. Proposed amendments would make the hiring requirements for charter schools slightly more rigorous than the version brought to the committee.
If the amended version passes the Senate, it would then go back to the House floor so that chamber could vote on the amended version. The House had already passed the original version, but concurrence is needed from both sides of the rotunda.
The IEA, along with the Idaho Association of School Administrators and the State Board of Education all opposed the bill on concerns that proper training and education experience are essential for qualified administrators.