Voices from the Idaho EdNews Community

Capitol notes from the ISBA, Feb. 25

Karen Echeverria

Health Exchange makes for a slow education week

The Senate spent most of the week dealing with the health exchange. In addition, both of the Education Chairs had personal issues that kept them away from the Capitol for a few days. Therefore, we did not see much action on education bills.

Where are all the collective bargaining and labor bills?

Karen Echeverria

This past week, we met two more times with the IEA, IASA, and the Education Chairs. We agreed to some additional changes to the language in the bills and plan to meet one more time this upcoming week. We are trying to find as much consensus with the bills as we possibly can. In doing so, we are trying to find mechanisms that will ensure their passage.

I believe we have found as much consensus as we possibly can. There are items in these bills on which we will always have philosophical disagreements with the IEA and others on which we have found consensus. I expect that we will see some announcements mid-week about how we plan to proceed. We will likely print yet another round of bills.

These will be the last to be printed and will move forward quickly.

As I indicated last week, it has been a long process. I had hoped to have these printed and moving early in the session but I think these negotiations will ultimately help us with the passage of the legislation.

These bill numbers will be changing but in case you want to look at the existing bills, here are new numbers:

HB163 – Electronic Delivery of Contracts
HB164 – Open Negotiations and Last Best Offer
HB165 – Reduction in Force and the Use of Seniority
SB1038 – De Novo Hearings (Note: This bill was not reprinted)
SB1094 – One Year Agreements/No More Evergreen Clauses
SB1095 – Proof of 50% + 1 and Majority Ratification
SB1096 – Unpaid Administrative Leave and Reducing Salaries

What is happening with business personal property tax?

As I indicated last week, the ISBA, the Cities, and the Counties sent a joint response to the Governor indicating that we could not support the proposed legislation and offering to bring legislation forward that was created in HB599 in 2008. That legislation would trigger an exemption on the first $100,000 of business personal property. This will completely exempt 89% of all small businesses in Idaho and will provide a $100,000 exemption to large businesses in every county in which they exist. The price tag on that exemption is $20 million and the Governor set aside exactly that amount in his budget proposal for replacement dollars.

Rumor has it that discussions among legislators is that there is just not enough dollars available for full replacement of the $140 million that will be lost should full replacement of business personal property take effect. In addition, they are beginning to understand the full impact on local communities – cities, counties, school districts, and other taxing districts. That tells me that your calls are having an impact, so keep up the good work!

Other legislation

HB0065 – FY13 Funding from SCF
This legislation brings back the $30.1 million in funding for FY13 that was lost in the repeal of Students Come First.
Status: Passed the House Floor and is headed to the Senate Education Committee.

HB72 – Charitable Contributions to School Foundations
Under current Idaho Code Section 63-3029A, voluntary donations to qualified higher education institutions, elementary or secondary institutions and specified 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations located in Idaho receive an income tax credit for charitable contributions. In order to take advantage of these credits, many eligible entities are required to form separately governed nonprofit foundations that are tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3). This amendment would establish a mechanism through the Idaho Community Foundation whereby small organizations would have the option to deposit their funds into a dedicated account. This dedicated account would be established to exclusively support the charitable purpose that would otherwise qualify the donor for the tax credit.
Status: This bill has passed the House Floor, the Senate Education Committee, and is on the Senate Floor for debate.

HB0084 – Clarifies Procedures for Inspection After Building Deemed Unsafe
This legislation deals with those school districts that have a building that has been deemed unsafe by the Division of Building Safety but the school district is still unable to get a bond passed. It clarifies several issues. This legislation would amend section 33-909, Idaho code to specify that all approved projects remain under the purview of the panel until finalized. These changes will eliminate any jurisdictional conflicts with local agencies by specifying the Division of Building Safety’s responsibility in regards to
inspection and issuance of certificates of occupancy.
Status: This bill has passed the House and Senate and is awaiting the Governor’s signature.

HB205 – This legislation deals with the frozen movement on the state’s funding grid for educator salaries for those educators who earned additional college credits applicable to FY11. SB 1184 (2011) previously repealed this freeze. The repeal of SB 1184 through Proposition 3 reinstated the freeze. This legislation reinstates the repeal of the freeze, which will allow school districts to receive full state funding for actual college credits earned by their professional educator employees.
Status: This bill has been printed in the House Education Committee and is awaiting hearing.

HB206 – This legislation includes the financial components of the recommendations made by a group of stakeholders that met and examined Idaho’s charter school laws from June 2012 through February 2013. The two recommendations with fiscal impact include a new requirement that charter schools pay an authorizer fee to the entity that authorized their charter and oversees their performance. The purpose of this fee is to help defray the authorizer’s cost of providing oversight, and in defraying such costs, to encourage more school districts to act as authorizers for charter schools.

The second recommendation with a fiscal impact involves the creation of a state facilities funding stream for charter schools. Currently, charter schools have no identified source of revenue to pay for their facility costs. School districts pay for facilities through voter authorization of bond and plant facility levies. In addition, school districts have received state subsidies for bond levy repayment costs since FY04. Charter schools, lacking these sources of revenue, must divert state funds intended for
employee salaries and operating costs to pay for facilities.

The state facilities funding created for charter schools by this legislation is pegged to a percentage of the average amount of facility levy funds being raised by school districts, on a per student basis.

For FY14, the distribution would be equal 20% this amount. For FY15, this percentage would increase to 30%. After this, the percentage would increase or decrease in 10% increments, based on triggers built around the level of increase or decrease in the public schools appropriation. The percentage is limited to a low of 20% and a high of 50%.
Status: This bill has been printed in the House Education Committee and is awaiting hearing.

HCR003 – Cursive Writing
This is a concurrent resolution, not a statutory change. This concurrent resolution requests that the State Board of Education commence rulemaking to provide that cursive handwriting be taught in the public schools of the State of Idaho.
Status: This concurrent resolution passed the House Floor and is headed to the Senate.

SB1005 – Prohibits SBOE from Passing Online Requirement
This legislation establishes a prohibition on the establishment of online class requirements for high school graduation by the State Board of Education or the State Department of Education without the express authorization of the Idaho Legislature.
Status: This bill was printed in Senate Ed but has yet to receive a hearing.

SB1026 – Signatures for Referenda
While this legislation is not education related, if passed, it will have an impact on any referenda that may be brought forward in the future. This legislation addresses the balance between urban and rural voters in the question of qualifying initiatives or referendums for the ballot. It would require collecting signatures of not less than 6% of registered voters in each of at least 22 Idaho legislative districts, provided that the total number of signatures equals at least 6% of the number of registered voters in the state.
Status: This bill was pulled and rewritten in a new form.

SB1028 – Mastery Advancement Program
This bill would end the pilot phase for the Mastery Advancement Program, removing language limiting the availability to school districts and the duration of the program.
Status: This bill was passed by the Senate and House and is awaiting the Governor’s signature.

SB1054 – High School Reading Requirement
This bill would require all high school students to read Atlas Shrugged before graduating. The sponsor indicates that in an age when personal responsibility is waning, this high school graduation requirement will stimulate debate.
Status: This bill was printed in Senate Ed but will likely never have a hearing.

SB1055 – Posting Information on the District Website
This legislation reinstates requirement that school budgets and master labor agreements be posted on a district’s website.
Status: This bill passed the Senate Floor and is headed to the House.

SB1056 – Denying Enrollment for Convicted Felons
This legislation would require the School Board to deny enrollment at any of its schools to anyone who has been imprisoned for one year or more, unless five years or more have elapsed since their pardon. We have strong reservations about this bill and the requirement that all students remain in school. In addition, the Department of Corrections also has concerns about this legislation
Status: This bill was pulled by the sponsor. It is unclear if he will bring an amended bill back this session.

SB1057 – Instructional Staff Time Allowance to Visit Parents
The purpose of this bill is to facilitate kindergarten teachers visiting with parents to help strengthen the working relationship between the teacher, the parents or guardians, and the student.
Status: This bill passed the Senate Ed Committee and is on the Senate Floor.

SB1085 – This legislation would direct that Idaho schools provide, on a full time basis, a ratio of one (1) school counselor per three hundred twenty-five (325) students, as well as providing for an experience and education multiplier to determine counselors’ salaries.
Status: This bill was printed in Senate Education but will likely never receive a hearing.

SB1086 – This legislation would establish a maximum number of students assigned to each teacher, with these limits being eighteen (18) students per class for grades K through 3, twenty-two (22) students per class for grades 4 through 8, and twenty-five
(25) for grades 9 through 12.
Status: This bill was printed in Senate Education but will likely never receive a hearing.

SB1087 – Proof of attendance in school has been a requirement for obtaining a driver’s license for applicants under the age of 18. This bill would also require applicants to provide proof that they are making satisfactory academic progress. The express intent of
this bill is to provide an incentive for improving student learning.
Status: This bill was printed in Senate Education and is awaiting a hearing.

SB1088 – This legislation provides for a protocol to identify districts that would see financial savings by consolidating services, as well as providing for incentives to encourage consolidation.
Status: This bill was printed in Senate Education and is awaiting a hearing.

SB1089 – This legislation repeals the Early Retirement Incentive program for teachers.
This program distributes bonuses to teachers who are at least age 55 and are retiring before age 63 and before reaching their PERSI Rule of 90. The bonuses are paid over the summer, after completion of their teaching duties. The program was originally established in 1996 as a way to encourage the retirement of teachers who did not wish to receive technology training and incorporate technology into instruction. All remaining teachers have long since received this training, and it has been a requirement in Idaho teacher preparation programs for many years. It has been claimed that this program saves the state money by encouraging more higher paid, veteran teachers to retire and be replaced by younger, lower paid teachers. However, Idaho’s actual experience has shown that the number of teachers retiring early has remained essentially unchanged during the most recent two years, in which the program was repealed, as compared to the previous five years. Thus, the program does not appear to have functioned as an incentive to encourage more teachers to retire, but rather, as an extra bonus to those who would have retired regardless. This legislation ensures that these scarce dollars remain in the classroom, as they have been in FY12 and FY13, and are not diverted to pay bonuses to those who are no longer teaching.
Status: This bill passed the Senate Education Committee and is on the Senate Floor.

SB1090 – Amends Idaho Code § 33-552 “Financial Emergency” by lowering two separate requirements for a local school district to declare a financial emergency, should financial conditions exist that would require the district to reduce personnel costs. Requires that the Reduction in Force (RIF) decisions, which are at the sole discretion of the board of trustees, not be made solely on seniority or contract status; further requires school districts to adopt policies establishing the methods to recall individuals who have been part of a RIF.
Status: This bill was printed in the Senate Education Committee and is awaiting a hearing.

SB1091 – This legislation creates a stable, long-term funding formula for the Idaho Digital Learning Academy (IDLA), establishes a portal for online classes, reestablishes the dual credit for the early completers program and makes technical changes to the “8 in
6” legislation.
Status: This bill passed the Senate Education Committee and is on the Senate Floor.

SB1092 – This legislation reinstates ongoing formula-driven funding for school districts and public charter schools to meet the state’s increased high school graduation requirements for math and science courses, which start with the Class of 2013. SB 1184
(2011) previously provided this funding to hire additional math and science teachers, or pay for the necessary online math and science classes, at local school district discretion. The repeal of SB 1184 through Proposition 3 eliminated this funding for schools.
Status: This bill passed the Senate Education Committee and is on the Senate Floor.
Karen’s Note: It was interesting that that the IEA testified against this bill. We are unclear what the motive was, but they indicated that they would prefer to wait for the Governor’s Education Task Force to make recommendations.

SB1093 – This legislation codifies the Legislature’s approach to budgeting for public school pupil transportation costs and discretionary funds, which has been in place for FY11, FY12 and FY13. Under this approach, intent language was included in the
appropriation bill which set aside the provisions of Section 33-1006, Idaho Code, reduced pupil transportation reimbursements by $7.5 million, and transferred the savings to state discretionary funds for public schools. This legislation eliminates the need to continue setting aside Idaho Code through intent language by moving that language into Idaho Code.
Status: This bill passed the Senate Education Committee and is on the Senate Floor.

SB1097 – This legislation will prevent Idaho school districts from having to use Idaho taxpayer funds to educate out-of-state students who are placed in Idaho group homes.
Status: This bill passed the Senate Education Committee and is on the Senate Floor.

SB1098 – To provide for a negotiations process that is open to the public.
Status: This bill passed the Senate Education Committee and is on the Senate Floor.

Other ISBA legislation

Funding – Resolution #1

This resolution contains many elements – all related to funding of public education in some way. Below is a breakdown of the pieces we are currently working on:

Bringing Back Use it or Lose it on a Permanent Basis
It is our understanding that the Idaho Association of School Administrators (IASA) will be bringing this legislation forward. The SDE assisted with writing the bill and it has been forwarded to their leadership. We will stay in close contact with IASA and assist them in any way we can. We will continue to support this legislation.

Lottery Funds and Building Maintenance
One of the elements found in our Resolution #1 was to move the Lottery Funds back into building maintenance rather that allowing it to be used as discretionary funds. While the Governor’s proposed budget did make that change, Superintendent Luna’s budget proposal contained one-half of the replacement dollars. He indicated that if approved, he will ask for full replacement next year. We will support the Superintendent’s budget on this issue.

Charter School Oversight – Resolution #2

As I indicated last week, we were able to come to agreement with the IASA, SDE, the Charter School Network, and the Charter School Coalition. There are definitely parts we like and parts that we don’t particularly care for. I always say that when both  parties like some and don’t like some that it is probably a good piece of legislation. That is the case here.

We agreed to print two bills. One bill will have all the charter school oversight language in it (we like this part) and the ability for multiple authorizers (not so crazy about this). The second bill will contain funding that will go to authorizers (we like this part) and funding to charter schools for facilities (again, not so crazy about this). The first of those two bills was printed this week (see info on HB206 above).

There will be a net fiscal impact because of the facilities funding piece, but we feel that we struck as good a deal as we could. We agreed to support the first bill and we will remain quiet on the second.

PERSI Retirement for Employees in Four Day School Weeks – Resolution # 5

We have had several meetings with PERSI and have discussed the issue with superintendents in four day school weeks. Because this is a rule amendment and not a legislative issue, we have a little more time to complete this. We do believe that PERSI is making some assumptions that may not be accurate and thus affecting the retirement of four day school week employees. Once the legislature has slowed down, we will pursue this more fully.

Increasing Supplemental Levies to Three (3) Years – Resolution #7

This legislation would allow school districts to run a supplemental levy for 1, 2, or 3 years. Currently, the maximum length of time for a supplemental levy is two years. We have had this resolution before and have been unable to find a sponsor for the legislation. The Boundary County School District is currently working to find a sponsor.

Non-Certificated Personnel Grievance – Resolution #8

Both the Kellogg and Meridian school districts have agreed on language on this bill. The legislation has been forwarded to a representative who will be printing this bill on the House side. We will work closely with him to sponsor the bill. We hope to see it printed this week.

If you want to view the actual language of any piece of legislation, click here. You can search by topic or the actual bill number.


Karen Echeverria

Karen Echeverria

Karen Echeverria retired as the executive director of the Idaho School Boards Association.

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