This week brought a significant victory for the Idaho Education Association as a bill that would have curbed classified employee rights was pulled.
Karen Echeverria of the Idaho Schools Boards Association asked Sen. John Goedde (R-Coeur d’Alene), chair of the Senate Education Committee, to pull S1297, the bill that would have put new limits on classified employees’ rights to file a grievance. The expectation is now that the ISBA and the Idaho Education Association will work over the summer to craft a compromise bill. The IEA had prepared several proposed amendments to the bill, and those ideas will now be added to the list of items for discussion when the parties meet later this year. Read more about why the IEA opposed this bill.
In other action this week:
- In another positive step for educators, the House Education Committee passed S1308, which would extend from one year to three years the amount of time an educator has to find a new job and transfer existing sick leave benefits. 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 full House should hear the bill early next week.
- The budget setting process continues to move forward. On Thursday, the full Senate unanimously passed S1331, which would require budget writers to fully fund the technology and pay-for-performance education mandates passed by lawmakers last year, rather than taking the money from salary-based apportionment. The five-year cost would be about $35 million. The same day, the full House passed a tax cut package to benefit Idaho corporations and the state’s top earners. The cost? $35 million.
- The House Education Committee narrowly passed H605, a bill to increase the background check fee for school employees and volunteers from $40 to $55. In testifying against the measure, Rep. Brian Cronin noted the irony that the House last year rejected a $1.50 court fee increase for people found guilty of crimes but that many of his colleagues had no trouble imposing a $15 fee hike on Idahoans who serve our children.
Looking ahead to next week, the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee will set the Public Schools budget for FY 13 at its meeting on Monday. The session starts at 8 a.m.