The full Senate made quick work of approving all seven bills that comprise the FY 17 Public Schools Budget on Wednesday. Not one bill was debated, and support was unanimous for all bills. You can read a brief description of those bills in a previous edition of the Hotline.
Assuming the trailer bills for reading intervention and college and career advising also meet with favorable approval, public schools would receive an additional 7.4% funding from the General Fund next year.
Governor Otter told reporters on Tuesday that he wanted to legislature to do more for schools this year. You can read more about his comments in a story posted by Betsy Russell’s Eye on Boise.
House Approves Rural Schools Bill
It took Supt. Ybarra nearly the entire legislative session to get a hearing on HB 628, the measure creating a pilot Rural Education Support Center in the northernmost part of the state. According to testimony and the fiscal note of the bill, the center is intended to provide a one-stop shop for small rural districts to access training, supplies, and potentially even share personnel costs.
Though HB 628 was only expected to receive a courtesy print hearing, members of the House Education Committee overwhelmingly approved sending the bill to the entire House last week without a full public hearing.
Following lengthy debate, House members approved the measure by a large margin: 44-26. However, the bill will probably not get additional consideration, as the chair of the Senate Education Committee is not expected to schedule a public hearing on HB 628 this year.
House Approves Increased Funding for CTE Instructors
HB 630, the measure that will treat Career-Technical Education teachers who hold Occupational Specialist Certificates like teachers who have earned a Master’s Degree, was approved by the full House on Wednesday. The IEA supported the legislation because the funding will flow to the district and all decisions regarding how those funds will be dispersed will be a matter for negotiations between the local district and the local association.
The Senate Education Committee will now be asked to consider the bill.
House Approves Changes to Leadership Premiums
The House agreed to make changes to change the way leadership premiums are distributed—over the objection on the IEA.
HB 627, sponsored by Rep. Julie VanOrden (R-Pingree), expands the list of duties for which a certified teacher can receive a leadership award by specifically pointing out that Career-Technical Education teachers can receive the awards as a result of teaching in a position that the legislature considers a hard-to-fill position. This school year, Idaho tapped more than 40 endorsement and certification areas of teaching as hard-to-fill. By singling out one type of certificated instructor as more valuable than others who also are working in hard-to-fill positions causes unnecessary resentment and frustration.
Additionally, the bill sets a minimum distribution of $900 per teacher, but does not increase the funding districts will receive. This change negates one of the critical components negotiated between the IEA and lawmakers last year and that led to IEA support for the career ladder law.
The bill now moves to the Senate Education Committee for consideration.
House Speaker Adds Levity as End of Session Nears
House Speaker Scott Bedke (R-Oakley), must have spent his evening writing poems and limericks to entertain the members of the House. And, he used them to introduce a number of bills for debate on Wednesday.
Several House members joined in the jocularity by introducing debate on legislation with rhymes of their own.
Typically, legislative work is done with the utmost propriety and decorum. The infusion of humor into Wednesday morning’s House procedure signals that the 2016 session is quickly coming to an end. Legislators are expected to adjourn sine die by Friday.