Last week, a joint committee of the House and Senate Education committees held a listening session to gather feedback from stakeholders on proposed funding formula draft language. This week, education committee co-chairs and key lawmakers convened a stakeholder roundtable to go page by page and address the problems they heard. These meetings will continue next week with the IEA focusing specifically on issues related to contract rights, local salary schedules, and the “wealth adjustment” weighting. President Kari Overall made these subjects the focus of her testimony to the joint committee last week.
The funding formula is proving to be a pivotal piece of legislation lawmakers must tackle this session before they go home. In a townhall interview conducted by CBS 2 and the Idaho Press, House Speaker Scott Bedke (R-Oakley) and Representative Wendy Horman (R-Idaho Falls) went into detail on the many specifics of the funding formula model. In the interview, Speaker Bedke stated he would like to see the bill introduced and passed by the house and senate this year so it can go into effect fiscal year ’20-’21.
There are still substantial changes and adjustments stakeholders have identified that need to be made before the official legislation goes before the education committees. Negotiations and discussions over provisions within the new formula may drag the 2019 session longer than usual.
Charter School Administrator Certificate bill advances out of Senate Committee
Senate Bill 1058 passed the Senate Education Committee along with a party-line vote. SB1058 is a rehash of legislation the IEA opposed lasted year and testified against again this week. The bill would create a standalone certificate for charter school administrators, loosening certification requirements. The IEA and the Idaho Association of School Administrators opposed the bill.
IEA President Kari Overall said in opposition to the legislation, “Administrators are responsible for evaluations, discipline, mentoring, classroom management, student behavior, interaction with parents, and instructional practice. Administrator preparation must include the training and tools necessary to prepare administrators to complete these functions.” The State Board of Education also opposes the legislation. SB1058 now goes to the Senate floor for a vote.
Governor Little introduces a bill to increase starting teacher salaries
Greg Wilson, Governor Little’s Senior Policy Advisor on Education introduced House Bill 153, a measure that would raise starting teacher salaries to $40,000 over the next two years. The bill is an attempt to make good on a campaign promise Little made during the 2018 gubernatorial election.
In studies year over year, Idaho teacher salaries rank lowest in the country, 12% lower than the national average. While the Career Ladder legislation introduced in 2015 has improved teacher salaries over the years, veteran teacher salaries have seen very little movement, making retention of experienced educators difficult.