Sen. John Goedde and Rep. Reed DeMordaunt expect the Legislature’s K-12 interim committee to continue working even past its final meeting.
On Tuesday afternoon, Geodde and DeMordaunt – the committee’s two co-chairmen – adjourned the panel for good without calling any votes or issuing any recommendations.
Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, said he never intended for the committee to vote on any recommendations or draft legislation during its three meetings. He also wanted the committee to operate differently than Gov. Butch Otter’s Task Force For Improving Education, which issued 21 recommendations in August.
“I think we heard concerns about areas that had not been addressed by the governor’s task force, and some of those were specific to legislation passed last year with sunsets,” Goedde said. “We certainly made the interim committee cognizant of issues that face us in education.”
But committee members are expected to bring ideas forward. And the 2014 session already looks to be busy — shaped by the task force recommendations and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna’s proposed K-12 budget increase.
Goedde and DeMordaunt tasked Eric Milstead, the deputy manager for legislation and research at Legislative Services, with preparing a report on the interim committee’s work and detailing recommendations issued by the stakeholders and educators who testified in front of the committee.
Goedde asked Milstead to send the report to him and DeMordaunt in December, and the chairmen will share the report with the rest of the committee.
DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, said he expects committee members to review Milstead’s report, consider the recommendations and use the information to draft bill or policy proposals to present during the legislative session, which opens Jan. 6.
“This (interim committee) was not an attempt to replicate the Legislature; this was an opportunity for us in a smaller subset to review what happened and share learning with our colleagues in the greater body,” DeMordaunt said. “I thought we would do a disservice to our colleagues to think it was our job to pass legislation here or to review legislation.”
Rep. Wendy Horman, an Idaho Falls Republican who sat on the interim committee and sits on the House Education Committee, said her committee work helped her as a policymaker.
“One of the things I really enjoyed was having the House and Senate together so we could have a joint conversation – I really don’t see senators very often,” Horman said. “I also appreciate the extra time we had to take some deeper dives into some of the issues. Quite honestly, during the session, you’re hard-pressed to take a deep look at some issues.”
The committee was made up of 10 lawmakers – five each from the House and Senate – including eight Republicans and two Democrats.
Over its three meetings, the committee:
- Invited three stakeholder groups (the Idaho Association of School Administrators, the Idaho Education Association and the Idaho School Boards Association) to review the pros and cons of a series of labor and negotiations laws passed earlier this year. The bills have one-year “sunset clauses,” which means the 2014 Legislature will have to decide whether to renew them. ISBA and IASA generally supported renewal. The IEA says the laws should be repealed, retooled or reauthorized on a temporary basis.
- Listened to testimony from business owners and leaders who said education was not preparing students for the workforce – be it in agriculture, computer science or manufacturing and construction.
- Staged multiple lengthy discussions about student data systems and explored some of the glitches that have plagued data collection.