The 2012 Idaho Legislature entered its second month this week. For education, it was a week of several significant bills moving forward, including:
S1297, the bill cutting classified employee grievance rights, was introduced and will have a hearing in the Senate Education Committee at 3 p.m. next Wednesday, February 15. This is a bill that lessens the rights of classified school employees, so it’s important to get a good turnout at the hearing. Contact your regional director if you’d like to speak out.
H517, a bill that would finally help Idaho tax code to conform with federal tax code and allow teachers to deduct up deduction of $250 for classroom supplies purchased from their own pockets.
H426, the so-called “8-in-6” plan proposed by Rep. Steve Thayn (R-Emmett), passed the full House and is heading for the Senate. The name refers to how a student could complete eight years of schooling – seventh grade through the second year of college – in just six years. Thayn’s bill would ask the state to pay a portion of the total cost for up to eight extra classes – mostly delivered online, though traditional summer school classes would also qualify – for junior- and senior-high students to earn up to two years of college credit or a professional-technical degree while in high school. It’s an interesting idea, but it’s unclear how it will be funded.
H481 would lift the cap on new charter schools. Currently, no more than six charter schools can open in Idaho each year, and just one in a single district. The Idaho Education Association supports effective charter schools and helped write Idaho’s charter school legislation. However, we oppose lifting the cap on charters because it would spread the already-meager education budget even thinner.
S1308, a bill brought by the IEA and being sponsored through the legislative process by Sen. Melinda Smyser (R-Caldwell), would allow an education employee who has lost his or her job due to Reduction in Force up to three years to find new employment without risk of losing accumulated sick leave. Currently, educators who terminate employment with a school district must find reemployment in the following school year or lose all accumulated sick leave. This bill would provide a safety net for educators who, through no fault of their own, have been laid off.
The Senate Education Committee is scheduled to consider whether to print a trio of proposals next week intended to “tweak” the laws introduced by State Superintendent Tom Luna. The IEA will be taking part in a meeting first thing Monday morning with Senate Education Chairman John Goedde (R-Coeur d’Alene) and other education stakeholders to discuss the modifications.