Statehouse roundup: UPDATED, 5:50 p.m.

(UPDATED, 5:50 p.m., with item on cursive writing proposal)

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Rep. Linden Bateman, R-Idaho Falls

Monday news bulletins from the Statehouse:

  • Cursive writing. Rep. Linden Bateman, R-Idaho Falls, showed up prepared. Pushing his proposal to keep cursive writing instruction in Idaho elementary school classrooms, Bateman came to the Senate Education Committee armed with samples of handwritten letters — notes that, said Bateman, have more impact than a sterile email. One was a note from Gov. Butch Otter, with one misspelled word. Bateman’s tongue-in-cheek show-and-tell got some laughs, and then his House Concurrent Resolution 3 got a unanimous thumbs-up from the committee. HCR 3 now goes to the Senate for final approval — and since it is resolution, not a proposed law, the Senate has the last word. Otter need not sign it.
  • Charter schools. A complicated bill on charter school governance is scheduled to be unveiled in the House Education Committee Tuesday. This bill would allow colleges, universities and private nonprofit groups to authorize a charter school; require an authorizing entity to renew the charter every five years; and rework the makeup state’s Public Charter School Commission. It’s a companion to House Bill 206, which would provide $1.4 million in building stipends for charter schools. HB 206 is also up in House Education Tuesday. (Click here for in-depth coverage on the charter bills.)
  • Math and science teachers. A permanent, $4.85 million-a-year plan to hire additional math and science teachers is on its way to the House. Senate Bill 1092 would restore teacher hiring dollars that are in limbo with the voter repeal of the Students Come First laws. Sen. Branden Durst, D-Boise, had sought to amend the bill in the Senate Education Committee last week, seeking to fund the jobs for one year only. On Monday, Durst supported the bill, and said he hopes it does not impede the work of Gov. Butch Otter’s education reform task force. The bill passed 34-0.
  • Teacher salaries. Without debate or disagreement, the House Education Committee voted to “unfreeze” the teacher salary schedule, allow educators to receive raises for obtaining additional college credits. The salary schedule was frozen with the Students Come First repeal. State superintendent Tom Luna’s House Bill 205 would put $4 million into the salary grid for 2013-14. It now heads to the House floor.
  • School bonds. School districts now can float 20-year bond issues. Should they have the authority to run 30-year bond issues? House Education introduced a bill to that effect. The proposal would bring schools’ bonding authority in line with cities and counties, and allow districts to keep their bond payments lower in a slow economy, said sponsor Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls.

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