As the 2022 legislative session’s second month comes to a close, kindergarten and voucher bills are top of mind in education circles. Here’s a quick summary of some of the bills the IEA’s lobby team is keeping an eye on:
Kindergarten Bills Aplenty
There are several kindergarten bills being discussed and worked on by lawmakers and education stakeholders. Next week, the Senate Education Committee will likely hear two that will enjoy the support of IEA’s member educators.
Senate Bill 1315, sponsored by Sen. Carl Crabtree (R-Grangeville), formally gives school districts statewide the option of offering state-funded all-day kindergarten. If successful, this bill would address a long-stated IEA-member goal that says a statewide “kindergarten program is necessary to the success of a child’s education.” The legislation changes the state’s education funding formulas to accommodate the new program offers the most straight-forward implementation of all-day kindergarten.
Senate Bill 1318, sponsored by Senate Education Committee Chair Steven Thayn (R-Emmett) provides funding to school districts to assist parents who choose to enroll their child in half-day kindergarten rather than full-day kindergarten. The funding will be used to provide materials and training to parents, if desired. Also, if the child is not proficient on the spring Idaho Reading Indicator, the funding can be used for the student to attend either a face-to-face summer school or use an online provider to reach proficiency.
House Education Hears Voucher Bill on Monday
Legislation that would allow taxpayer funds reserved for public schools to be passed to private or non-public parochial schools will be heard by members of the House Education Committee on Monday.
House Bill 669, sponsored by Reps. Dorothy Moon (R-Stanley) and Gayann DeMordaunt (R-Eagle), “would allow education funding dollars to follow students” to pay for “private tutoring; curriculum, tuition and fees at a private school; among other approved expenses.”
“This is an unabashed voucher bill,” said IEA Executive Director Paul Stark. “The IEA’s members have long understood vouchers to be destructive to the fabric of our resource-strapped public schools. That’s especially true for rural schools where school resources and non-public education options for families are often extremely thin.”
Bill Moving Schools to Enrollment-Based Funding Discussed
Legislation moving school districts to funding formulas based on enrollment, rather than average daily attendance was re-introduced in the House Education Committee on Friday.
The bill, sponsored by House Education Committee Chair Lance Clow (R-Twin Falls), provides districts with a more stable and predictable funding mechanism that allows for stronger annual planning. The legislation has been discussed for years and momentum for support grew during the pandemic as school attendance fluctuated significantly.
After confusion about the bill’s funding formulas, the bill draft was reworked and reintroduced on Friday and will be debated by the committee in coming days.
IEA’s Monica Beaudoin Memorialized on the House Floor
Former IEA President and Idaho Legislator Monica Beaudoin was memorialized by Rep. John McCrostie (D-Boise) on the House Floor on Monday.
Beaudoin died Oct. 31, 2020, in Sandpoint at the age of 83. A pillar of the education community, Beaudoin fingerprints remain on the IEA and on our public education system decades after her retirement. Click here to read more about her enduring contributions to the IEA and the State of Idaho.
House Approves Career Ladder Placement for Out-of-State Educators
The House of Representatives, on Thursday, unanimously approved legislation that allows school districts to accurately place educators moving to Idaho from out of state on Idaho’s educator career ladder.
House Bill 656, sponsored by Rep. Julie Yamamoto (R-Caldwell), provides the appropriate career ladder cohort funding to school districts that allow them to pay experienced, incoming educators a salary commensurate with their years of experience in other states. The IEA’s Associate Executive Director Matt Compton testified in favor of the bill in the House Education Committee.
The bill is up for consideration in the Senate Education Committee on Monday.
Bill Deepening Pool of Possible School Counselors Passes House
Idaho House members on Thursday unanimously approved legislation allowing licensed professional counselors and licensed clinical professional counselors to be hired as school counselors.
House Bill 654 helps broaden the pool of qualified mental health professionals school districts can hire to help Idaho’s growing need for student mental health support. The IEA’s Associate Executive Director Matt Compton testified in favor of the bill in the House Education Committee.
The bill will be considered in the Senate Education Committee on Monday.