Voices from the Idaho EdNews Community

Capitol notes from the ISBA, March 3

Karen Echeverria


I know I have been somewhat evasive in my discussions about the collective bargaining and labor bills the past few weeks.  As I have indicated, we have been in negotiations with the IEA, IASA, and the Education Chairs.  We were asked not to discuss those negotiations outside of the meetings until we were finished.  We have been regularly updating the ISBA Executive Board so they were aware of the negotiations.

Karen Echeverria
Karen Echeverria

I want to assure you that we have not negotiated anything that was not part of the original resolution.  Our efforts were to find as much consensus as we possibly could in an effort to move as much of the legislation forward without dissent as we could.

We had hoped to have our last meeting at 8:30 this morning.  Unfortunately, because of scheduling conflicts for the IEA, that meeting did not take place.  We asked the IEA to let us know in writing what their final stance was on the bills.  As of the writing of this issue of the Capitol Notes, IEA has not yet responded to us.  While we were able to find some consensus, we do still have philosophical disagreements with the IEA on some of the proposed legislation.

So Now What?

As part of the negotiations, we will actually be printing seven (7) new bills and the IEA will be printing one (1) maybe two (2) new bills.  Four (4) of the ISBA bills will come out of the Senate and three (3) will come out of the House.  One (1) of the IEA bills will come through the Senate.  I’m not sure about the other IEA bill.  In addition, two (2) bills that have already been printed are also moving their way through the system.

Sunset Clauses

As part of our effort to find consensus on the bills, we have offered to include one year sunset clauses on four of the seven new bills.  A sunset clause makes the amendment effective for one year.  At the end of that year, the amendments are then reassessed to see if they worked or didn’t work and whether or not they should become permanent.

The Legislature will be forming an Interim Legislative Committee.  At this point, the members of the Committee have not been identified.  However, the Committee will be made up of both Representatives and Senators and will begin meeting after negotiations are complete this spring.  The purpose of the committee will be to examine how the laws are working and to make recommendations about whether to keep the laws or not.

Memorandum of Understanding

How Do We Make Sure That We Will Get Good Data to Give to the Committee?

The IEA has expressed concern that the trustees around the State will not negotiate in good faith.  They indicated that with the ability to impose a last best offer, they were concerned that many boards would just continue to say no until the last date and then impose an offer.

At the same time, ISBA heard last year that there were local unions that came to the negotiating table and said they had been advised not to negotiate at all and forced the local trustees to impose a last best offer.

If either or both parties negotiate in that way, it will be impossible to gather good data and information to give to the Legislative Interim Committee.  As such, we have crafted a Memorandum of Understanding.  That one page document indicates that all three parties – ISBA, IEA, and IASA – will advise their respective association members to negotiate in good faith so that we can collect good data over the next year.

Unfortunately, as this morning, we have not heard back from the IEA, so we do not know whether they will sign.  The ISBA and the IASA have still signed the agreement and will still advise our members to do everything they can to make sure we don’t try to manipulate the data in any way so that we can get good data.  While we do not yet know whether they will sign the MOU, we are still hopeful that they will, at minimum, comply with the conditions set out in the document.

What Are the Bills?

Because the bills have not yet been printed, they only have RS (Routing Slip) numbers.  Once they are printed, they will be given bill numbers and will come up on the agendas for debate.  Below I have listed the pieces of legislation and whether or not we have reached consensus.

Bills That Have Been Agreed Upon and Do Not Contain Sunset Clauses

  1. 1.    Electronic Signatures – HB163
    1. a.    This bill will continue to move forward as is.
    2. b.   Both ISBA and IEA will support this bill
    3. c.    There is no sunset clause on this bill.
    4. 2.    Open Negotiations – SB1098
      1. a.    This bill will continue to move forward as is.
      2. b.   Both ISBA and IEA will support this bill.
      3. c.    There is no sunset clause on this bill.

 Bills That Will Not Contain Sunset Clauses

  1. 3.    Unpaid Leave
    1. a.    This bill sets out the requirements under which an employee can be placed on unpaid administrative leave.
    2. b.   There will be no sunset clause on this bill.
    3. c.    IEA will decide if they want to support, oppose, or remain silent.
    4. 4.    50% + 1 and Majority Ratification
      1. a.    These two elements will run in one bill.
      2. b.   At the IEA’s request, we have made an amendment to make this language permissive.  If the school district wants to request the proof, they may.  If they don’t, the school district does not have to ask.
      3. c.    IEA will decide if they want to support, oppose, or remain silent.
      4. 5.    De Novo Hearings
        1. a.    This bill sets out new requirements for teacher terminations that are appealed to the district court.
        2. b.   The IEA may run a companion bill that sets out criteria for the hiring of hearing officers in these cases.
        3. c.    There will be no sunset clause.
        4. d.   IEA will decide if they want to support, oppose, or remain silent.

 Bills That Will Contain Sunset Clauses

  1. 6.    Last Best Offer and Mediation
    1. a.    These two elements will run in one bill.
    2. b.   There will be a one (1) year sunset clause on this bill.
    3. c.    IEA has indicated they will oppose this bill.
    4. 7.    One Year Agreement/Evergreen
      1. a.    This will run as a separate bill with one element.
      2. b.   There will be a one (1) year sunset clause on this bill.
      3. c.    IEA will remain silent.
      4. 8.    Reduction in Force and Seniority
        1. a.    ISBA agreed to use language proposed by the IEA with one change.

                                              i.     IEA requested that all school districts adopt a policy about recalling those employees who had been reduced in staff.  We asked to make that language permissive so that the school district could adopt such a policy if they wished but did not have to do so.

  1. b.   There will be a one (1) year sunset clause on this bill.
  2. c.    IEA will decide if they want to support, oppose, or remain silent.
  3. 9.    Reducing Salaries
    1. a.    This legislation is being redrafted as one bill.
    2. b.   There will be a one (1) year sunset clause on this bill.
    3. c.    IEA will oppose this legislation.



I think you may see two pieces of legislation drafted on BPPT this week.  One will come from the Idaho Association of Commerce of Industry (IACI).  They will still be looking for a phased out full repeal with “full” replacement dollars.  They seem to have a different idea about what full replacement means than we do.  For IACI, full replacement means holding school districts harmless for the term of their supplemental levy (1-2 years).  After that, school districts would be on their own.  All supplemental levies from that point on would not need to be run without the ability to tax BPP.

The other bill will be one that the ISBA, Association of Cities and Association of Counties will print.  That bill will do the following:

  • Establishes a de minimis exemption for new items purchased after January 1, 2013 with a purchase price of $1,500 or less.
  • Implement the $100,000 exemption effective January 1, 2013 with full replacement.
  • Provide for a streamlined application process, removing burden of reporting from taxpayer.

We think this legislation is much more reasonable and hope the legislature will see this as well.


 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.

Note:  There has been some discussion on this bill and a clause in the bill that allows some of these dollars to remain in the SDE’s budget rather than being distributed to school districts.  This legislation MAY be amended.  Either way, it will still move through and these dollars will be distributed to school districts.

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 both the House and Senate and is awaiting the Governor’s Signature.

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.

HB205Repealing the Freeze on the Grid

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 passed the House and is headed to the Senate Education Committee.

HB206 – Facility Funding for Charter Schools

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 discrete, 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 passed the House Education Committee and headed to the House Floor.

HB218 – School Bond Amortization

A number of provisions in the Idaho Code governing issuance of school bonds need to be updated, modernized and made consistent with other provisions of Idaho Code. The legislation eliminates obsolete provisions. It also replaces vague language with objective measures of when a school district’s bond amortization plan requires the approval of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and specifically limits bond amortization to no more than 30 years. The legislation eliminates conflicting provisions relating to refunding/refinancing bonds, and makes a technical correction for refunding bonds relating to compliance with the State bond guaranty program under Chapter 53 of Title 33, Idaho Code.

HB224 – Contract Transition

This legislation clarifies that the employments contracts signed by educators for the 2012-2013 school year will continue to be governed by the laws that existed at the time the contracts were entered into. While the state’s legal guidance to school districts has been that this is already the case, this legislation provides greater certainty, and in doing so, seeks to prevent unnecessary lawsuits.

HB225 – Flooring Protection Clarification

This legislation clarifies which version of Section 33-1003, Idaho Code is current law. After the repeal of SB 1108 (2011) through Proposition 1, the Attorney General’s Office has written that the version established separately and more recently by HB 603 (2012) takes precedence over the 2010 version of the statute. The published version of Idaho Code, however, does not recognize the changes brought about by HB 603 in 2012, and show Section 33-1003 reverting to its 2010 version after the repeal of SB 1108. This legislation clarifies that it is the version passed in HB 603 by the 2012 Legislature that is the current version of Section 33-1003. HB 603 (2012) established a self-funded, 97% ADA funding protection for Idaho school districts, starting in FY13. This replaced the 97% state funded ADA funding protection that was put in place for one year only for FY12.

HB227 – Tax Credits

This bill provides a credit on state income taxes to individuals and corporations that make donations to scholarship granting organizations (SGO’s) that provide scholarships to qualified K-12 students attending approved schools.


The bill provides a tax credit to individuals and corporations that make donations to scholarship granting organizations (SGO’s). For individuals, the credit is equal to the full amount of the donation. For corporations, the credit is equal to the full amount of the donation up to 50% of the corporate taxpayer’s total state tax liability. The total amount of credits is limited to $10 million in each fiscal year. If the cap is reached, the cap will automatically increase according to the increase in the consumer price index. There are restrictions on which students qualify for scholarships under the program. Eligibility is limited to students who:

a.) have household incomes less than 150% of the maximum income that can be earned to qualify for the national free and reduced price lunch program (185% of the federal poverty level), and

b.) attended a public school in the preceding semester, are entering kindergarten or first grade, or are starting school in Idaho for the first time, and

c.) reside in Idaho and attend a school located in Idaho while receiving an educational scholarship.

Projected state savings: $3,350,672

Projected local savings: $2,490,900

Projected savings overall: $5,841,572

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 both the House and Senate.  Because it is a concurrent resolution, it does not require the Governor’s signature.

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 has passed both the House and Senate and is headed to the Governor for 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 the requirement that school budgets and master labor agreements be posted on a district’s website.

Status:  This bill passed the Senate Floor and the House Education Committee and is being heard on the House Floor.

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.

SB1057aa – 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 being amended on the Senate Floor.

SB1085 – School Counseling Act

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 – Education Class Sizes

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 – Academic Progress for Driver’s Licenses

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 held in the Senate Education Committee.

SB1088 – School District Consolidation

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 – Teacher Early Retirement Incentive Program

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 and is awaiting a hearing in the House Education Committee.

SB1090 – Financial Emergency

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.

SB1091a – IDLA Funding

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 being amended on the Senate Floor.

SB1092 – Increased Funding for Math and Science Teachers

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 Floor and the House Education Committee and is headed to the House Floor.

Karen’s Note:  It was interesting that that the IEA testified against this bill in both the Senate and the House.  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 – Transportation Funding

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 Floor and is awaiting a hearing in the House Education Committee.

SB1097a – Educating Out of State Students

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 being amended on the Senate Floor.

SB1098 – Open Negotiations

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.

SB1133 – School Security Plans

Intent of this legislation is bring the complimentary core competencies of Local School Boards and Local Law Enforcement together to create, then continuously measure and improve the effectiveness of the security and safety measures in Idaho’s K-12 Schools and transportation systems.

Having a much better understanding the available resources within the local districts, the County Sheriffs, or their designees, will work with the local School Boards in creating, training to and measuring the effectiveness of individual school security and safety plans. To ensure continuous improvement, these plans will annually be measured for effectiveness, have student/staff training held, identify issues and corrections to those issues made. These measures will then be reported annually to the State Department of Education, securely (FOUO), to act as a central repository of measure for school safety and security that be used in the case of an incident, as well as a repository for lessons learned that can be used in other Districts.

The results of all metrics regarding school security and safety are added to and will be exempt from

Freedom of Information Act Requests in accordance with ID code 9-340B (Records Exempt from



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).  Both bills have been printed.  HB206 and HB221.

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 oversight bill and remain quiet on the facilities funding bill.

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.  This legislation may be sidelined for this year.  We have a lot on our plates and aren’t sure we can get this done this year.  We will hold this for next year.

Link to Legislation:

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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