Turnabout on ‘turnaround’ schools bill

A bill to provide state support for low-performing schools was abruptly derailed Tuesday morning.

Senate Bill 1291 was on the calendar for a House vote. But before the House could take up the bill, House Education Committee Chairwoman Julie VanOrden asked to send the bill back to committee, effectively killing it for the session.

VanOrden said she was acting on the request of the bill’s author, Senate Education Committee Chairman Dean Mortimer, who cited “confusion” over what his bill would do.

Passed by the Senate two weeks ago, SB 1291 would have created a voluntary, three-year “turnaround” program for the state’s lowest-performing schools. The state would have assigned a turnaround expert to help the schools draw up and carry out an improvement plan.

Quick action on budget bills

As the Legislature continues to move toward adjournment, lawmakers approved several education-related budget bills Tuesday morning.

Here’s the rundown:

  • The Senate voted 28-6 to approve House Bill 686, a $19.2 million State Board of Education budget. This bill includes a $3.5 million increase for the Idaho Opportunity Scholarship.
  • The Senate also approved House Bill 672, another State Board budget. Among other items, this $6.4 million spending bill includes $250,000 for a consultant’s study to look for savings in the higher education system — an offshoot from Gov. Butch Otter’s failed higher education “CEO” proposal. This bill passed unanimously.
  • The House unanimously passed Senate Bill 1357, a $66.4 million career-technical education budget.
  • On a 66-2 vote, the House also passed Senate Bill 1359, which provides $46.1 million in state funding for Idaho’s four community colleges.

All four budgets now go to Otter’s desk.

On the signings front …

Another harbinger of the end of the legislative session: It’s the time of the year to watch for bill signings.

Otter signed 51 bills into law Tuesday, including a handful on education topics:

  • House Bill 503, which would move occupational therapists and physical therapists under the career ladder salary law.
  • House Bill 565, which would allow retired law enforcement officers to carry a concealed weapon on school grounds.
  • Senate Bill 1280, which would move school trustee races from May of odd-numbered years to November of odd-numbered years.
Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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