Trustees vote to move their elections

Idaho school trustees overwhelmingly favored moving their own election date in an effort to hold off a legislative agenda that would put their elections on partisan ballots.

Trustees approved a resolution to move their election date from May to November of odd-numbered years. The Idaho School Boards Association’s executive director Karen Echeverria will lobby the 2018 Legislature to approve this idea.

More than 400 trustees debated and voted on 14 resolutions during Friday’s business session of the ISBA’s annual convention in Coeur d’Alene. They voted to pass 10 resolutions (results listed below). They will all now become a part of the ISBA’s legislative platform for the next two years.

What forced the morning’s longest debate was that moving the trustee elections to November means the newly elected trustee will start on Jan. 1 — in the middle of the school year. Currently, trustees begin their terms in the summer following a May election.

But Caldwell School District trustees brought forth the resolution in an effort to “play offense” against the Idaho Legislature.

Coeur d’Alene Sen. Mary Souza supports consolidating elections in an effort to improve voter turnout. The Republican lawmaker has sponsored bills to move school board elections to November of even-numbered years. This would put trustee elections on partisan ballots with governor and Congressional races.

Souza gave Echeverria a verbal commitment she would not pursue her proposal during the 2018 legislative session if trustees made a move.

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Since trustees believe their races should not share space on ballots with partisan race, they made a compromise decision of moving their elections to November but to odd-numbered years instead of even-numbered years and partisan ballots.

“It’s our decision,” said Caldwell board chairman Chuck Stout prior to the vote.

Those who voted against the resolution did so because trustees were making a compromise forced by legislative pressure.

“I don’t hear people talking about what’s right for kids or right for schools,” said Coeur d’Alene board chair Casey Morrisroe. He emphasized the decision should be about what’s best for schools and not what’s the best tactic to fight a legislative proposal. Starting a term in the middle of the school year (January) will cause problems, he added.

More than 12 trustees stepped forward to debate the issue, including Starr Olsen from the Dietrich School District. He supported the resolution on behalf of ISBA’s governing board.

“We cannot continue to play defense,” Olsen said. “Should we pass this, (the Legislature) will support our legislation and will no longer attempt to move our elections (to partisan ballots).”

In other news, Jennifer Parkins from Genesee was selected the ISBA’s president-elect and Wally Hedrick from Meridian Technical Charter was selected ISBA’s vice president.

Here are the details and outcomes of the proposed resolutions considered on Friday:

Seat belts in school buses

That the Idaho Legislature appoint an interim committee to begin discussions and make recommendations about the feasibility of the use of three-point shoulder/seat belts in school buses. This committee would also discuss the amount of and provide the appropriate funding and state policies to facilitate their use.
Submitted by Coeur d’Alene School District
ISBA board recommendation: None
Friday’s outcome: Failed

Revision of Idaho Code on excision

Section 33-308, Idaho Code needs to be significantly revised due to the hardship it is causing local district taxpayers and districts. The process allows a small group of individuals to effectively decide to increase taxes for the majority of taxpayers in an affected district without allowing them a vote. As a result of the random nature of the process allowed by Section 33- 308, Idaho Code it is extremely difficult for districts to do short- or long-term financial planning. Additionally, the timeline for district consideration should be changed to allow much more time for both districts’ Boards of Trustees to research the impact of an excision petition and seek input from district taxpayers.
Submitted by Post Falls School District
ISBA board recommendation: Do pass
Friday’s outcome: Passed

Education allocation for out-of-state teachers

This change in legislation would allow Idaho school districts to attract experienced out of state teachers without having to absorb the additional cost and free up monies at the district level.
Submitted by Kimberly and Jerome school districts
ISBA board recommendation: Do pass
Friday’s outcome: Passed

Card check for negotiations

In this year and previous years of negotiations, local associations have interpreted Idaho Code in the manner such that they did not have to have current signature cards for establishing representation. They have instead been using cards that were signed in prior years that included a statement that they were valid unless revoked by the employee. Idaho Code should be revised to prevent this practice and ensure that cards provided by the local education association for use in proof of 50% + 1 representation are signed on an annual, or at a minimum every other year, basis.
Submitted by St. Maries School District
ISBA board recommendation: Do pass
Friday’s outcome: Passed

General Fund reserve

Due to the fact that the funding formula will be changed and Idaho school districts cannot anticipate the impact, it is necessary that increases be made to the contingency reserve law to protect individual districts. The Idaho School Boards Association should actively work to increase the general fund contingency limit.
Submitted by Bonneville School District
ISBA board recommendation: none
Friday’s outcome: Pulled

Career and technical education teachers experience factor

Career and Technical Education is a large part of meeting the 60 percent go-on goal established by the State Board of Education for Idaho. Due to the fact that qualified instructors coming from industry usually take a reduction in pay to enter the teaching ranks, this measure would honor the professional experience of CTE instructors and assist in funding a salary equitable to other experienced teachers. The Idaho School Boards Association should actively work to amend Section 33-1004A(2), Idaho Code allowing professional experience for CTE instructors to be allowable experience for funding purposes.
Submitted by Bonneville School District No. 93
ISBA board recommendation: none
Friday’s outcome: Passed

Contracts for teachers holding an interim certification under an alternative route

Due to the need of school boards to hire individuals that are attempting to enter the teaching profession under alternative routes to certification, public schools should not be required to issue Standard Teaching Contracts that exceed a one year period to these individuals. This change will place accountability on the individual to diligently pursue the requirements set forth in the Interim Teaching Certificate issued to them and not place school boards in statutorily protected contract disputes when the individual is not making progress towards the requirements necessary to receive a valid five year teaching certificate.
Submitted by West Ada Joint School District
ISBA board recommendation: Do pass
Friday’s outcome: Passed

Move school board trustee elections to November of odd years

For the past several years, the Idaho Legislature has considered legislation that would move school board trustee elections to the general election date in November of even years. The stated purpose for moving those elections is to increase voter participation. School board trustees believe that trustee elections need to remain non-partisan. The Idaho School Boards Association would like to work with the Legislature to find a date that would increase voter turnout and still provide trustees with a non-partisan election. In addition, should the election date move to November of odd years, school board trustees believe that the newly elected members should take office on January 1. This would allow new board members to be involved with teacher contract negotiations, budget setting, and continuous improvement planning for the following school year.
Submitted by Caldwell School District
ISBA board recommendation: Do pass
Friday’s outcome: Passed

Transportation reimbursement

Changes to the methodology for reimbursing school districts for allowable transportation expenses has created a burden for school personnel. Extensive clerical work is necessary to identify and categorize the allowable reimbursement costs incurred by each district. Considerable time, effort, and cost is associated with ensuring each allowable expense is properly documented within the 50 percent and 85 percent categories to maximize the transportation reimbursement to the school district. Reimbursing all allowable transportation costs at a flat fixed rate of 85 percent will reduce the amount of clerical work required to submit reimbursement and other reports at the district level. Such a change would also simplify the audits conducted by the Idaho State Department of Education transportation program personnel. This resolution seeks to simplify and streamline transportation reimbursement to the districts.
Submitted by Cassia Joint School District 
ISBA board recommendation: Do pass
Friday’s outcome: Passed

K-12 funding principles

As recommended by the Governor’s Task Force for Improving Education, work has commenced that could change the funding formula for K-12 public schools. Having a standard of fundamental guiding principles provides a measure against which ideas can be weighed and evaluated. These funding principles represent the philosophical baseline of direction for funding public schools and address the areas of challenge for K-12 across the State.
Submitted by Boise School District
ISBA board recommendation: Do pass
Friday’s outcome: Passsed

State Board of Education k-12 advisory council

K-12 funding is the largest single expense in the state budget. The K-12 budget and statutes and rules promulgated represent a tremendous governance effort on the part of the State Board of Education, the State Department of Education, and the Idaho Legislature. On occasion, these efforts result in requirements placed on school districts that are not aligned with the work happening at the local level. The Idaho School Boards Association should advocate that the State Board of Education use an advisory council model already in use by the Department of Health and Welfare, another state agency. This council, composed of community members, district/charter representatives, and subject matter experts could be a proactive voice in preparing policy, statute, regulation, and reporting requirements. The importance of this working advisory council would eliminate much waste and allow for all districts/charters to focus more on preparing their students for career, college, and citizenship.
Submitted by Boise School District
ISBA board recommendation: None
Friday’s outcome: Failed

Discussion of sale of public property within executive session

A school district must be able to discuss the sale of real property and its acceptance of counteroffers within executive session. If an interested party makes an offer on real property, a public agency needs to be able to privately discuss acceptable counteroffers without public knowledge of their final acceptable price. If these deliberations take place in open meetings, the interested party will make the lowest offer as discussed by the board.
Submitted by Moscow School District
ISBA board recommendation: Do pass
Friday’s outcome: Passed

Permissible education activities in school bond and levy elections

Voters need to be able to be educated about proposed school district budgets, projects, and use of levies and bonds. School district personnel have the most complete set of details and they need to be able to answer voter questions and provide these details without advocating for specific outcomes in elections.
Submitted by Moscow School District
ISBA board recommendation: Do pass
Friday’s outcome: Passed

Incentive to encourage students to pursue teaching

Due to the critical shortage of teachers in Idaho, districts have difficulty finding qualified teachers to fill vacancies. An incentive plan would entice students to pursue a career in teaching. The Idaho School Boards Association should actively work with the Idaho Legislature to provide funding for an incentive program.
Submitted by Buhl School District
ISBA board recommendation: Do not pass
Friday’s outcome: Failed

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