A breakdown of the new Senate Education bills

The Senate Education Committee introduced 14 bills Monday — all wiithout debate or discussion.

It is, as you might expect, a mixed bag of ideas.

Want the rundown? Here they are, one by one, with links:

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Sen. Branden Durst, D-Boise

Senate Bill 1085. Would require schools to employ one school counselor for every 325 students. This would require hiring 282 new counselors, at a cost of $12.96 million. Sponsor: Sen. Branden Durst, D-Boise.

Senate Bill 1086. Would establish maximum student-to-teacher ratios. Limits would be 18 students in kindergarten through third grade; 22 students in fourth through eighth grade; and 25 students in ninth through 12th grade. Using statistics from a recent Office of Performance Evaluations study, it would cost $30 million to $50 million to hire the teachers needed to fulfill these ratios. Sponsor: Durst.

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Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene

Senate Bill 1087. Currently, any student under 18 must provide proof of school attendance in order to get a driver’s license. This bill would also require student drivers to “(maintain) satisfactory academic progress.”

This bill could well have its origins in the Feb. 1 House-Senate education “listening session.” Rod Morse — a 31-year Meridian teacher, with 13 years’ experience teaching drivers’ education — floated the idea, to a round of applause. Sponsor: Senate Education Committee Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene.

Senate Bill 1088. Designed to encourage schools to consolidate services. If legislative auditors find a school district can save 7 percent or more by consolidating services with an adjoining district, this district must submit a cost-savings proposal. If the plan works, both districts get a 5 percent bump in funding. If it doesn’t, the district targeted for consolidation of services would lose 7 percent in funding, over two years.

The bill expressly does not call for consolidating schools, only services.

Sponsor: Durst.

Senate Bill 1089. Would eliminate the teacher Early Retirement Incentive Program.

From the bill’s statement of purpose: “The program was originally established in 1996 as a way to encourage the retirement of teachers who did not wish to receive technology training and incorporate technology into instruction. All remaining teachers have long since received this training, and it has been a requirement in Idaho teacher preparation programs for many years.”

The defeated Proposition 1 eliminated the early retirement program. But with the repeal of Prop 1, the retirement program is back on the books — at a projected cost of $3.6 million in 2013-14.

Sponsors: Sens. Clifford Bayer, B-Boise, and Russell Fulcher, R-Meridian.

Senate Bill 1090. Relaxes the conditions under which a school district can declare a financial emergency — and cut staff to reduce personnel costs. In a financial emergency, staff cut decisions “shall not be made solely on consideration of employee seniority or contract status.”

Sponsor: Robin Nettinga, Idaho Education Association.

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Sen. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett

Senate Bill 1091. Changes the funding formula for the Idaho Digital Learning Academy, earmarking more than $6.4 million for the online school. The bill also reestablishes the state’s dual credit program for students who finish high school early, and makes technical corrections to the “8 in 6” program, which enables students to complete up to two years of college or professional-technical credit by the end of high school.

Sponsor: Sen. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett.

Senate Bill 1092. Reinstates $4.85 million for hiring math and science teachers — another component of Students Come First.

Sponsor: Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna.

Senate Bill 1093. Codifies changes in school transportation budgeting, established in 2010-11. At stake, for 2013-14, is $7.5 million — a sum that would go back into transportation, at the expense of districts’ discretionary spending.

Sponsor: Goedde.

Senate Bill 1094. This would eliminate ongoing “evergreen” contract clauses between school districts and labor unions. The evergreen clause repeal was a component of Proposition 1. All financial agreements would be limited to one year in duration; parties could agree to other items on a two-year basis.

Sponsors: Karen Echeverria, Idaho School Boards Association; Rob Winslow, Idaho Association of School Administrators.

Senate Bill 1095. Allows a local school board to require a teachers’ union to ratify that it represents at least half of a district’s professional employees. School boards can require this ratification annually. Another bill with origins in Proposition 1.

Sponsor: Echeverria.

Senate Bill 1096. Allows a school board to reduce staff salaries. Also allows a school district to suspend an employee without pay, if the employee precludes an employee from being in the presence of students. This bill also is based on Proposition 1.

Sponsors: Echeverria and Winslow.

Senate Bill 1097. Would take school districts off the hook for paying to teach out-of-state students placed in Idaho group homes.

From the bill’s fiscal note: “State savings would be minimal, based on average daily attendance-driven funding of $4,160 per enrolled pupil. Local school district savings would be more significant, based on an average expenditure of over $28,000 per pupil for such students in the state’s largest school district, but more varied, depending on how many out-of-state students were placed in group homes within

the school district’s boundaries.”

Sponsor: Nick Smith, State Department of Education.

Senate Bill 1098. This would require school board to negotiate contracts in open meetings, yet another component of Proposition 1.

The ISBA has proposed restoring this language — but its bill paired the open-negotiation language with a clause allow a school board to impose a contract offer in the event of an impasse. The IEA opposes that language, and has written a bill that only addresses open negotiations.

Sponsor: Nettinga.

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