Charter proposal falls on final day of ISBA convention

COEUR D’ALENE — Hundreds of trustees from around the state set lobbying priorities for the Idaho School Boards Association Friday, wrapping up their three-day annual conference.

Association members voted to make 11 resolutions a priority, and ISBA will lobby for those policies during the 2020 and 2021 legislative sessions.

ISBA members listen to debates over resolutions during the last day of their three-day conference in Coeur d’Alene.

Three resolutions did not pass. One, a proposed cap on charter school facilities, was among the most heavily debated resolutions of the day.

The resolution, sponsored by the Caldwell and Payette school districts, proposed limiting the number of charter schools allowed by the Idaho Public Charter School Commission to one per 25,000 school district residents.

Sponsors argued that the process for establishing charter schools is undemocratic, since an unelected charter school commission can approve a school, and charter school board members are unelected as well.

Both sponsoring districts are contending with lower enrollment this year as new charters have opened nearby. Caldwell lost about 269 students this school year, and Payette is down 163.

“Caldwell, like many cities, has a disproportionate number of charter schools,” said Caldwell trustee Travis Manning, arguing for the proposal. “We are being inundated.”

ISBA charter school members argued in favor of collaboration and school choice and pointing out that appointees comprise many government agencies, including the State Board of Education.

“In my opinion, we are all working for one purpose: to do the best we can for all of our students, no matter what type of school they’re enrolled in,” said Leslie Baker, board chair for the Moscow Charter School. “We all have to work together.”

Ultimately, ISBA members voted against the proposal.

In other business, ISBA announced that its 2020 conference will be in Sun Valley, and members voted in two new association leaders.

Jody Hendrickx, a trustee at the St. Maries School District in North Idaho, was named president-elect, after running unopposed. Jason Knopp, a firefighter and representative of the Melba School District, defeated Boise School District trustee Nancy Gregory for vice president.

ISBA leadership listens to debate over resolutions. The leadership will lobby the Legislature for those resolutions that receive majority support from members.

Here’s how members voted on each resolution. (Note, the language below is the direct statement of purpose from each resolution. Click the title to read the resolution in full):

Local Control Regarding School Security: PASSED

This resolution would direct the Idaho School Boards Association to support legislation that would ensure School Boards retain the ability to allow or prohibit individuals from possessing guns on campus. It would also direct the Association to oppose any legislation that would grant individuals the ability to possess guns on campus without Board approval.

Sponsors: Coeur d’Alene School District

ISBA recommendation: Do Pass

Yes votes: 7,658

No votes: 306

Extension of Supplemental Levies: PASSED

It is rare to find a district in Idaho that does not rely on a supplemental levy to help provide the programs and services to their schools that their community expects. Section 33-802(5), Idaho Code, recognizes this fact and aims to make it easier for districts to plan their longer-term strategic budgets. However, this statute could be more effective with two substantive changes. First, by removing the requirement of a minimum dollar amount of 20% of the maintenance and operational budget for the levy; and secondly by replacing the “indefinite term” with a three (3) to ten (10) year term if the school district has passed a supplemental levy for seven (7) consecutive years. The five districts that currently have permanent levies (Boise, Blaine, Moscow, Lewiston, and Mullan) will all be grandfathered in.

Sponsors: Basin School District and Nampa School District

ISBA recommendation: Do Pass

Yes votes: 6,712

No votes: 1,253

Salary Allocation: PASSED

The purpose of this resolution is to encourage the Legislature to implement the complete three-tier recommendation from the Task Force for Improving Education convened under Governor Otter regarding the Career Ladder. The third rung of the Career Ladder was designed to recognize the contribution of experienced educators in Idaho. In addition, it was suggested as a method of encouraging teachers to continue improving their practice, to explore additional credentialing, and to incentivize them to remain in Idaho. Finally, this resolution encourages the Legislature to recognize the disparity of allocation for more experienced teachers by increasing the differential between new-to-the-profession teacher allocations and experienced teacher allocation.

Sponsors: Nampa School District

ISBA recommendation: Do Pass

Yes votes: 8,019

No votes: 34

Task Force on Property Tax Reform: PASSED

Changes to Idaho’s property tax system in 2006 has put schools and districts in a tough position of asking their taxpayers for levies in order to provide the programs and educational services their communities expect. This resolution would convene members of the legislature, taxpayers, and stakeholders together to discuss a statewide solution to ensure Idaho’s constitutional obligation to provide a uniform and thorough system of education is being met.

Sponsors: Nampa School District

ISBA recommendation: Do Pass

Yes votes: 7,474

No votes: 578

Revision of Idaho Code on Excisions: PASSED

Section 33-308, Idaho Code needs to be significantly revised due to the hardship it causes district taxpayers and districts. The current process allows a small group of individuals to increase taxes for another, larger group of taxpayers in an affected district. As a result of the process allowed by Section 33-308, Idaho Code it is extremely difficult for districts to do short or long term financial planning. Additionally, the timeline for district consideration should be changed to allow much more time for both districts’ Boards of Trustees to research the impact of an excision petition and seek input from district taxpayers.

Sponsors: Post Falls School District and Nampa School District

ISBA recommendation: Do Pass

Yes votes: 7,620

No votes: 399

Sale of Public Property in Executive Session: PASSED

A school district or charter school must be able to discuss within executive session, prior to receiving bid offers, the possible amount acceptable as a reasonable offer. If an interested party makes an offer on real property, a public agency needs to have had the opportunity to privately discuss what a reasonable offer would be without public knowledge of their final acceptable price. If these deliberations take place in open meetings, the interested party will have a large advantage over the school district or charter school by knowing what the minimal acceptable price is and make the an offer matching that amount. This is detrimental to the interest of the school district patrons if they do not receive the most competitive bid possible. This also is a major impact on rural school systems where there is typically only one interested buyer.

Sponsors: Moscow School District and Moscow Charter School

ISBA recommendation: Do Pass

Yes votes: 8,053

No votes: 0

School Construction Property Tax Relief: FAILED

To support new legislation that would help school districts fund needed improvements to existing buildings, make additions to existing buildings, or construct new buildings needed to provide space for increasing enrollment while reducing the tax burden that school bonds place on district property tax payers. The central tenant of this resolution is to make funding school building repairs and construction a cost that is shared among all taxpayers, and not just a cost paid by property tax payers. Another tenant of the resolution is to resolve the facilities lawsuit that the Idaho Supreme Court ruled needed to be resolved by the legislature. Had such a resolution been in place over the last 20 years, it would have helped more than 90 of Idaho’s school districts. Had it been in place this August, the cost for local payers in the failed bond measure attempts in Lakeland, Bonneville, Oneida, Filer, Kellogg, and Shoshone would have been decreased by 50% and the measures may have stood a better chance of earning voter support.

Sponsors: West Ada School District

ISBA recommendation: No Recommendation

Yes votes: 3,783

No votes: 4,210

Flexibility of Missassignment in Teacher Assignments: PASSED

Due to the limited number of applicants in the current teaching pool with multiple endorsements, the lack of teaching experience for alternatively authorized educators, and the need to provide one of a kind classes in many small and rural schools, the Idaho School Boards Association should actively work to allow local districts and charter schools to temporarily assign experienced teachers to fill assignments outside their areas of endorsement.

Sponsors: Caldwell School District, Payette School District and Cambridge School District

ISBA recommendation: Do Pass

Yes votes: 7,366

No votes: 687

School Age and Accountability Requirements: PASSED

Idaho’s accountability measures for high schools rely upon students completing academic requirements, participating in college level work, and mastering industry level skills during a four year window. Two of those four years occur in the final two years of high school, when most students are older than 16. Section 33-202, Idaho Code, should be amended to support state accountability expectations for schools by changing the required school age from 16 to 18, unless the pupil has graduated early or has received their GED.

Sponsors: Caldwell School District, Payette School District and Cambridge School District

ISBA recommendation: Do Pass

Yes votes: 6,884

No votes: 1,160

Limit on Non-Elected Charter School Authorizers: FAILED

The Idaho Public Charter School Commission’s authority to authorize charter schools in a community may create racial, social economic and resource inequities in communities. Further, Idaho Public Charter School Commission members, as political appointees are not elected, and members of the governing boards of Commission authorized charter schools are not elected by those they serve or required to reside in the community they serve. This resolution would limit the number of charter schools such authorizers could oversee to one school per 25,000 residents of the school district in which the charter school would be sited.

Sponsors: Caldwell School District and Payette School District

ISBA recommendation: Do Not Pass

Yes votes: 3,788

No votes: 4,264

Support for Idaho Science Standards: PASSED

Idaho’s current Science Standards represent the work of a broad group of stakeholders over a three-year period and have garnered widespread support from stakeholders and citizens across Idaho. Districts and schools have invested significant resources of time and money into the professional development and curricular materials aligned to these standards over the past year and a half. To revise or not approve the standards as currently written, would represent a significant step backward in our efforts to prepare students with the 21st-century learning skills that will be necessary to fulfill the labor needs of our state’s ever-growing STEM job market.

Sponsors: Boise School District

ISBA recommendation: Do Pass

Yes votes: 7,487

No votes: 565

K-12 Funding Principles: PASSED

Over the past three years, a K-12 public school funding formula legislative interim committee has worked to develop a proposal for a new K-12 funding formula. While the proposed model was not approved, the 2019 Legislature did approve HB 293, which established definitions to be used in a SBFF model to be considered by the 2020 Legislature. It is our belief that by having a standard of fundamental guiding principles provides a measure against which ideas can be weighed and evaluated. These guiding principles represent a philosophical direction for funding public schools and reflect some of the concerns identified with the proposed model that was released last year.

Sponsors: Boise School District

ISBA recommendation: Do Pass

Yes votes: 7,821

No votes: 125

Increased Reimbursements for Driver Training Programs: PASSED

Currently, Section 33-1707, Idaho Code, sets the amount LEAs receive in reimbursement at $125 per student completing a public driver education program. Increasing the reimbursement from $125 to $150 per student will prevent LEAs from using discretionary funds to support their driver training programs and decrease the amount students have to pay in Driver Education fees to sustain these programs.

Sponsors: Boise School District

ISBA recommendation: Do Pass

Yes votes: 7,711

No votes: 69

Public School Facilities Defined: FAILED

Adding “Public School Facilities” to the definition of “Public Facilities” in Section 67- 8203(24) would allow school districts to access funding under Title 67 Chapter 82 for the purpose stated in Section 67-8202, namely to create “an equitable program for planning and financing public facilities needed to serve new growth and development is necessary in order to promote and accommodate orderly growth and development and to protect the public health, safety and general welfare of the citizens of the state of Idaho”.

Sponsors: Kuna Joint School District, Caldwell School District, Middleton School District and Nampa School District.

ISBA recommendation: Do Not Pass

Yes votes: 3,102

No votes: 4,793

Public Charter Commission Academic Framework: Pulled from consideration before the vote

This resolution will direct the Idaho School Boards Association to seek legislative action to direct the Public Charter School Commission to pursue a mission of increasing public school choice to families in Idaho, to replace the Performance Certificate approach to charter school oversight with the state accountability system, and call on the State Legislature to recognize that parents’ choice of their students’ school is based on many factors beyond academic performance. In the event the PCSC does not revise its accountability measures, it would direct ISBA to call on the Legislature to disband the PCSC.

Sponsors: iSucceed Virtual High School Board of Directors, Idaho Virtual Academy Board of Directors

ISBA recommendation: Do Not Pass

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