Members of the House Education Committee on Tuesday voted to introduce three new collective bargaining and contract bills that contain elements of the repealed Students Come First laws.
Idaho School Boards Association president Karen Echeverria brought the bills forward less than 24 hours after members of the Senate Education Committee introduced four other labor bills brought by the ISBA.
Echeverria said her organization – which includes 560 members – voted three-to-one to bring the labor bills forward to the Legislature.
One bill would require negotiations between school boards and teachers’ unions be held in public. That bill also would allow school boards to impose their “last good faith offer at negotiations” if the groups do not reach an agreement by June 10.
Echeverria said the bills are designed to help school board members manage their districts.
“These are locally elected officials and it is their… statutory responsibility to manage the district, and that includes the finances of that district,” she said.
All three committee Democrats – Rep. Donna Pence, D-Gooding, Rep. Hy Kloc, D-Boise, and Rep. Janie Ward-Engelking, D-Boise – opposed the bill.
“It bothers me this particular bill… was on the ballot and our constituents and voters spoke about this,” Ward-Engelking said.
Although she said she did not have problems with the public negotiations requirement, Ward-Engelking was concerned the “last good faith” provision “puts all of the marbles on that one person’s side.”
“What incentive is there for both sides to give and comprise when one group knows at the end of this time their offer will be accepted?” Ward-Engelking asked.
Echeverria responded by saying all parties are required to negotiate in good faith.
Committee chairman Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, said he thinks it is appropriate the ISBA bills receive a full hearing to allow for debate and vetting of the issues.
“This is a grassroots effort; this is not the state board, this is not the Legislature driving this,” DeMordaunt said after the meeting. “This is our school boards. They feel like this is important for them and their management of our districts around the state and we’re allowing them to have a hearing to present that.”
The other two bills were introduced on voice votes without opposition.
One bill allows teacher contracts to be delivered electronically and specifies that those contracts must be signed and returned within 21 days after delivery if the local school board has not already set a deadline.
The other new bill would allow districts to consider factors other than just seniority when instituting a reduction in force. Once performance, certification, endorsements, student and school needs and other factors have been weighed, the school board may consider seniority when the other factors are equal among two or more candidates.
Previously, seniority was the only factor in reduction-in-force decisions, Echeverria said.
During the meeting, Rep. Linden Bateman, R-Idaho Falls, said the repealed Students Come First laws contained numerous elements. Even though the three bills were shot down, Bateman said some smaller, individual components may have been supported and good for education.
“As a Legislature, we have the responsibility to sort through these laws and pick out the good parts,” Bateman said.