Statehouse roundup, 3.21.19: Teacher recertification bill heads to House floor

In what could be one of its final meetings of the year, the House Education Committee advanced a bill Thursday designed to tweak teacher recertification requirements.

If Senate Bill 1104 becomes law, educators who teach a professional development course would be able to receive credit for that course when they apply for recertification.

Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls, sponsored the bill after meeting with an educator who taught several courses but could not use them toward recertification.

Amy Christopherson of College of Southern Idaho’s Mini-Cassia Center said she fell one credit short when she attempted to recertify after taking time off to raise children. She had recently taught five semesters of a science methods course, which corresponded to 15 credits. But because she was teaching the class, she could not count it towards certification.

Educators must obtain six credits to recertify. The current rules state the credits must be earned, not taught.

“If I could use one of my own courses, I would have met the credit threshold,” Christopherson said.

Horman and several House Education members said the change would be a good way to help retain quality educators in Idaho while recognizing their expertise for teaching professional development courses.

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“This bill is a good example of a citizen who took time to reach out to their Legislature when something just didn’t seem right,” Horman said.

SB 1104 next heads to the House with a recommendation it pass.

House Education was not immediately scheduled to meet Friday, and legislative leaders may adjourn the session next week.

School construction interim committee

House Education gave the green light to forming a new interim committee to study the methodology for funding public school construction and maintenance.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Winder, R-Boise, said the issue was prompted by questions posed to the recent Public School Funding Formula Interim Committee. Several Idahoans asked that interim committee to look at how Idaho funds schools, and the proliferation of bonds and levies.

The previous interim committee looked narrowly at the public school funding formula. This interim committee would study funding for building construction and maintenance.

If Senate Joint Memorial passes, House and Senate leadership would appoint legislators to the committee. That committee would work over the summer, and report back to the Legislature next year.

The old Public School Funding Formula Interim Committee worked for three years before bringing a proposal to rewrite Idaho’s K-12 funding formula to this year’s Legislature. However, that funding formula rewrite appears to have stalled out in the Senate after more than a dozen drafts were written.

Teach For America trailer bill

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee tied up one loose end, funding a plan that could support nontraditional teacher training programs.

The Legislature appears to be poised to pass a bill that could provide state funding for programs such as Teach for America and the American Board for the Certification of Teacher Excellence. But House Bill 93 doesn’t include funding. So on Thursday, JFAC agreed on a spending bill that frees up $200,000, aligning with the funding request in HB 93.

The spending bill must pass both houses.

JFAC’s work isn’t done for the year. The committee still needs to write a new budget bill for the State Board of Education. The House killed the first version of the bill on March 7 — at least partially in a protest vote.

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