Education news roundup: Tuesday, Feb. 18

Strategic plans. Rep. Wendy Horman is pushing a new bill that is designed to satisfy a task force recommendation that school districts develop strategic plans.

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Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls

The Idaho Falls Republican’s bill would require districts and charter schools to develop a data-driven strategic plan that is focused on student improvement. The requirement would begin in the 2014-15 school year, and district officials would need to update the plan every year and post it on the district website.

Horman said school boards and superintendents often feel overburdened with compliance-based reports, but she believes this one will be different.

The new strategic plan must include performance objectives and targets based on student outcomes.

Additionally, districts would be eligible to be reimbursed up to $2,000 annually for professional development and training for superintendents and school boards in the areas of strategic planning, ethics, evaluations and governance.

Because of the money for training, Horman said her proposal, House Bill 521, also helps satisfies the task force recommendation for training for administrators and schools boards.

“If you ask superintendents and school boards, they are going to tell you they already do strategic planning – they might even say they are overdoing this recommendation,” Horman said.  “… (but) what the task force envisions is different.”

Members of the House Education Committee voted to introduce the bill following a 10-minute discussion about how the program works. The bill will return to the House Education Committee for a full hearing.

Labor bills. With minimal debate, and without objection, the Senate voted to keep three school labor laws on the books for one more year.

The bills would extend three laws passed in 2013: a law requiring school districts to consider factors other than seniority, if they are required to reduce staff; a law eliminating ongoing “evergreen clauses” in contracts; and a law allowing school districts to reduce staff salaries.

The 2013 laws restored sections of the Proposition 1 labor overhaul rejected by voters in November 2012. But the extensions, designed to allow further study of the laws’ impacts, had support from the Idaho Education Association, the Idaho School Boards Association and the Idaho Association of School Administrators.

The bills now go to the House.

Physical education. It took four motions, and three defeated motions, but the Senate Education Committee finally signed onto a rule governing physical education.

Under the new rule, high school athletes will be able to receive one credit for participating in varsity or club sports.

But the new rule won’t change anything in grade schools or middle schools. Following House Education’s lead, senators rejected language that would have required 60 minutes of P.E. a week in grade school, and 200 minutes every two weeks in middle school.

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