As of Tuesday afternoon, there were still no signs of a newly formatted version of the ideas from Senate Bill1113, Tom Luna’s bill that would impose technology mandates and increase class sizes at the expense of about a thousand Idaho education jobs. It has been hung up in the Senate for several weeks, and everyone wonders what the new version might look like.
School administrators began spreading the following information via an email throughout their membership ranks this week. This information is completely unsubstantiated, but it does tend to align with some of the talk taking place in the halls of the Capitol this week….
“When will we see SB1113 reappear? The answer is…sometime soon.”
Work continues behind the scenes to produce the funding and technology bill. Below you will find a list of things that have been discussed. Do not assume this list is all inclusive and do not assume the list is definitive. It simply represents discussion items we know have been considered.
· Instead of changing the divisor, the funding apportionment would most likely be decreased. School Districts would decide how to implement the reductions. Options available to districts could be: increase class size by hiring fewer teachers, decrease salaries and benefits, decrease contract days, or eliminate other expenses to the district. This reduction could be in the 5 to 6% range
· If the reduction was 5% for example, districts could be exempted that same amount in the “Use It or Lose It” provision [and be granted authority to use those funds that would otherwise be spent to hire teachers for other purposes.]
· The number of on-line courses for graduation would be set by the State Board of Education.
· An Interim Technology Task Force would be created to study and make recommendations related to the implementation of future technology plans.
· Students wanting to take on-line courses would need to register for them through the typical registration process. The implication here is that districts would have to approve the courses before they begin.
· Teachers would be the first to receive mobile computing devices with professional development taking place the first year. Students would then receive the same devices as determined by local district with the same requirement of a one-to-one ratio by the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year.”
Tough times call for tough choices
Members of the House Revenue & Taxation Committee made an unlikely decision today and voted 13-3 to suspend the next scheduled bump-up in Idaho's grocery tax credit in the coming year. HCR 25 sponsor Rep. Cliff Bayer (R-Boise) estimates that this measure would save as much as $15 million, which could be used to help balance next year's budget.
Currently, most Idahoans receive a $50 grocery tax credit. Low-income Idahoans receive a $70 credit, and seniors over age 65 get an additional $20 bump. Under the resolution introduced and sent to the full House this morning, the credit would stay at that same level next year rather than increasing by $10 in each category.
School board election deadline is Friday
The governor is expected to sign Senate Bill 1108 (the teacher-rights bill) and Senate Bill 1110 (the unfunded pay-for-performance mandate) later this week. Even before the ink is dry, these first two pieces of the Luna plan will be law. Now, more than ever, school board races will be critical to help ensure that these new laws are appropriately implemented with the least amount of harm to our students and our schools.
The deadline to run for the school board in the May electionsis this Friday, March 18. Do you know anyone interested in serving on a local board? Click here for an information packet and forms from the Secretary of State’s office. Contact your school district to learn if there are seats up for election. Educators: You can’t serve on the board for a district in which you’re employed, but you can run in the district where you live if you don’t work there. The new school board terms start July 1.