Statehouse roundup, 3.15.13

The House comfortably passed three education bills Friday before adjourning for the week.

The closest vote came on Senate Bill 1057, which is intended to facilitate visits between kindergarten teachers and parents during the first week of the school year.

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Rep. Julie VanOrden, R-Pingree

The bill would not mandate such visits between the teacher and parents, but would allow kindergarten teachers to schedule the meetings at a parent’s home during the school day and still receive pay.

Sponsoring Rep. Julie VanOrden, R-Pingree, stressed that the program would not cost any state money but is intended to help teachers and parents open a dialogue about the child’s education.

Rep. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis, opposed the bill after pointing out that nothing in Idaho law now prevents teachers from meeting with parents. Barrett also asked VanOrden why the visits could not be restricted to hours outside of the school day.

In the end, the bill passed 42-18. It cleared the Senate 29-5 on March 4 and now heads to Gov. Butch Otter for final consideration.

House members also cleared Senate Bills 1091 and 1098 in short order, with both passing unanimously without any debate.

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Rep. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis

Senate Bill 1091 establishes a funding formula for the Idaho Digital Learning Academy, restores the dual credit program for high school students who complete their high school graduation requirements early, establishes a portal for online courses and makes tweaks to the “8 in 6 Program.”

Meanwhile, Senate Bill 1098 – a revival of one element of Proposition 1 – mandates that negotiations between school districts and teachers’ representatives take place in a public session.

Having previously passed the Senate, both S.B. 1091 and 1098 also are on their way to Otter for final consideration.

The Legislature reconvenes Monday for what could be a two-week spring toward adjournment. Earlier this week, House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, and Senate Pro Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, said lawmakers are ready to go home and end the session this month.

Before that can happen, legislators must formally pass the 2013-2014 school budget. Additionally, some sort of action is expected on competing personal property tax repeal bills and a health insurance exchange system.