The Idaho Senate made changes to four education bills during a lengthy floor session Wednesday afternoon that ran into the evening.
Senators added amendments to House Bills 206 and 221 and Senate Bills 1147 and 1148 during what became a showdown between Senate Education Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, and Sen. Branden Durst, D-Boise.
The biggest change of the night removes Idaho nonprofits from the list of new groups that would be able to authorize new charter schools.
On House Bill 221, which would allow groups to authorize new charter schools, Goedde was able to eliminate an aspect of the original bill that would allow Idaho nonprofits to authorize new charter schools. Under the amended bill, only Idaho colleges and universities, and private, accredited Idaho colleges and universities would be added to the list of charter school authorizers.
Currently, only local school districts and the Idaho Public Charter School Commission are able to authorize new charters.
Durst failed in his attempt to remove public and private colleges universities from that group – along with nonprofits as well.
On House Bill 206, which would provide $1.4 million in facilities funding for charter schools, Goedde succeeded in adding a cap to the amount of money charter schools would receive for facilities. If the amended bill is adopted, charters will not be able to receive more than the average amount public school districts get through the bond levy equalization fund.
Durst unsuccessfully sought to create a charter school facilities loan program to help borrow and pay for facilities.
ISBA labor bills. The other new amendments affect labor and negotiations bills pushed by the Idaho School Boards Association.
On Senate Bill 1147, Goedde cleaned up language, while Durst failed in an effort to allow districts to offer multi-year contracts if they would like.
Finally, on Senate Bill 1148, Sen. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett, added language to clarify that negotiations will take place during the time period set aside for bargaining agreements relevant to the next school year.
The Senate must now consider each of the amended bills — with the changes intact — again. In the case of the House charter bills, those must pass the Senate and be returned to the House for consideration of the amendments.