Statehouse roundup, 3.12.13

House floor votes: online data; math and science teachers; work force reductions. Without much debate, House members quickly and unanimously cleared three education bills Tuesday afternoon.

Senate bills 1055 and 1092 already cleared the Senate unanimously, so they head to Gov. Butch Otter’s desk.

SB 1055 requires school districts to post budgets, master agreements and expenses online. SB 1092 restores extra funding for math and science teachers in the wake of the Students Come First repeal.

Under the math and science teachers bill, the state will send $4.85 million to school districts and public charter schools to pay for additional teachers to meet increased math and science graduation requirements.

House Bill 261 requires that employee seniority no longer be the only factor considered by boards of trustees when they reduce staff due to budget or enrollment changes.

That bill has moved quickly through the House, having just passed the House Education Committee on Monday morning. It next heads to the Senate, where the committee hearing process starts over.

Charter schools. Two controversial charter schools bills remain on hold: House Bill 206, which would award charter schools $1.4 million for building stipends; and House Bill 221, which would allow universities and nonprofits to authorize charter schools, and collect authorizing fees from the state. The bills were pulled from the Senate Education Committee agenda, at the sponsor’s request, and are scheduled to return Monday.

Teacher salary grid. Also on hold in Senate Education is House Bill 205, a $4 million measure to unfreeze the state’s teacher salary grid. The grid was frozen with the Students Come First repeal. Senate Education Vice Chairman Dean Mortimer — a Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee member and Idaho Falls Republican — said he wants to hold the bill to make sure the $4 million fits with the rest of the school budget. A hearing is planned for Monday.

Teacher contracts. Over objections from the Idaho Education Association, Senate Education approved House Bill 224 which clarifies that 2012-13 teacher contracts are governed by laws that existed when the contracts were signed. The IEA called it an attempt to reinstate elements of Students Come First. After the party-line committee vote, HB 224 heads to the Senate floor. If it passes the Senate, it goes to Otter.

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