Voices from the Idaho EdNews Community

ISBA Capitol Notes, Feb. 11

ISBA’S Annual Day on the Hill begins today. It is your opportunity to spend some time with your local legislators and discuss the issues that are most important to you and your school district. This year’s format/schedule is going to be slightly different than in the past.

Training at 2 pm on Monday

We are going to start a little earlier on Monday than we usually have. Our awesome trainers Jackie Hopper and Liz Killpack are going to conduct a training session on how to communicate with your legislators and how to testify in front of the committee. Because you will have multiple opportunities to talk with your legislators, we recommend that you attend this workshop to gather some great talking points that you can use when discussing the issues that are important to your district.

Listening Session

The House and Senate Education Committees will be meeting jointly on Monday from 4-6 pm. The purpose of this hearing is to let members of the public – that includes school board members, superintendents, clerks, teachers, parents – come speak to them about education reform. We know that the Idaho Education Association (IEA) plans to bring in several people to testify and we know that several of you will want to testify as well.

The Chairs of the Education committees have indicated that each person who wishes to testify will have three (3) minutes and no more. There will be no questions from the committee. The Boise City Council has a meeting scheduled in the Auditorium at 6 that evening so we will need to exit the Auditorium as quickly as possible at the conclusion of the hearing.

Dinner that evening will be on your own, but we would encourage you to invite your local legislator(s) to dinner with you if they are available.

Breakfast the next morning is hosted as part of your registration and will be held at the Grove Hotel.

Tuesday – House Education Committee at 8:30 or 9

As is our normal course of action, Anne Ritter, ISBA President, will have an opportunity to speak to the House Education Committee. She plans to focus her remarks on discretionary funding – or, rather, the lack thereof.

In addition, this year, three bills that ISBA has been working on will be printed that morning. This is a print hearing and not a hearing on the bills. What that means is that I will provide a short synopsis of what each of the bills contain, there may be some questions, and the committee will vote on whether or not to “print” the bill. If it is printed, it will then be assigned a bill number and brought back at some later time for debate. But, it will allow all our members the opportunity to see some of the real legislative action.

Lunch with Legislators

We have once again invited all the State legislators to join us for lunch. Lunch will be held at the Grove Hotel. If possible, we suggest that you wait at the Capital building for them to recess off the floor. You can then escort them from the Capital to the Grove for lunch. Please note that we have no control over when the House or Senate will recess from the floor for lunch. They are sometimes early, sometimes late, and sometimes don’t make it at all. Unfortunately, we have no control over that.

We encourage you to have a very candid conversation about all the issues affecting your school district. You can discuss the impact of business personal property tax repeal, charter schools, supplemental levies, discretionary funding, or the impact of the labor bills. We recommend that you choose the one or two topics that are most important to you and spend the time discussing those issues.

Common Core Training

We all know that Common Core standards are going to be implemented next year. Unfortunately, not many of us know what that means exactly. The Boise School District has generously loaned us two of their teachers who have experience with Common Core. They have done several presentations on the topic and have agreed to come present to our members as well. That training will also be held in the hotel so you won’t need to go very far once lunch is completed.

What happened with the collective bargaining and labor bills?

This past week, we met on two different occasions with the Education Chairs, the Idaho Association of School Administrators (IASA) and the IEA to discuss our seven bills. We met for a total of six hours. We discussed, at length, all the provisions outlined in the bills. The ISBA agreed to rewrites in all seven bills. Unfortunately, even with all the concessions we made, the IEA was only able to agree with one of the bills. Please see each of the bills below to see the final outcome.

We will need your help

As I indicated last week, we are going to need your help. We will need you to contact your legislators and tell them your feelings about the bills. We have prepared a series of talking points for each bill and those will be shared with all of you at the training on Monday. If you are not attending Day on the Hill, please let us know and we are glad to share those with any of you.

It will be imperative for the ISBA and IASA membership to contact our legislators and explain the need for this legislation. They will undoubtedly hear from the other side and they will need to know there are those who believe in this legislation. We will never be able to outnumber the calls and emails that will come from the members of the IEA because we will always be outnumbered. We have a lot of support, but it will take everything we have to get it passed. If you don’t know who your legislators are, please contact us and we can get you that information.

ISBA collective bargaining and teacher contract legislation

As I indicated above, we met on three different occasions, with the IEA and the IASA to discuss the seven pieces of legislation. We went through every element of every bill but, in the end, we were only able to come to consensus on one piece of legislation.

Below is a short synopsis of each piece of legislation along with the IEA’s objection, the outcome and a final update is found in red. I should note that there were several small objections or suggestions that the IEA made to the legislation. I am only writing about the bigger issues.

HB67 – Open Negotiations and Last Best Offer
• They agree with open negotiations.
• They will not agree with last best offer at any level.
• They asked about having binding or non-binding arbitration.
o We said there was not enough time or dollars for that.
Update: They asked that we change “good faith offer” to “last best offer”.
Outcome: We made that change, but as suspected, they will not agree at any level on this bill.

HB68 – Electronic Delivery of Contract
• We have agreed to add language that if there is no response to the electronic delivery within a certain amount of time, then we will send the contract snail mail return receipt.
o With that change, we think they will either support or remain silent on this bill.
Update: They agreed with this bill.
Outcome: I think we have consensus on this one.

HB69 – Reduction in Force and Seniority
• As you will remember, we pulled the criteria to be used for reduction in force directly from the IEA’s recently released document.
o They indicate that they only wanted that criteria used in a “perfect world of education” and was not meant to be implemented now.
o As such, they do not want “individual performance” used as a criterion in reduction in force. Their reasoning is that administrators don’t know how
to conduct an evaluation.
Outcome: We declined to accept this compromise so we will likely not get consensus on this.
• They also want seniority as a factor but not the last factor.
Outcome: They brought up new issues this week completely unrelated to what we had previously discussed. They did not address the seniority issue but opted to not support the legislation.

SB1037 – One Year Master Agreement
• We agreed to amend the bill so that the Board can agree to negotiate everything other than salaries, benefits, and anything that has a direct or indirect impact on the finances of the school district every two years.
• Anything with a financial impact must be negotiated every year.
Update: We added language as they had requested. The language states that they must negotiate salaries, benefits, and anything that directly or indirectly affects the finances of the district. They indicated that boards could say that anything “indirectly” affects finances. Unless we removed that language, they would not support. I gave the example of “indirect expense” as classroom size. For example, the negotiated agreement could say that classroom size cannot exceed 25 students and that, in itself, would not have a financial impact. However, if the student population increased, it
could mean that it would mean hiring more teachers – thus the indirect impact.
Outcome: They would not support and we would not remove that language.

SB1038 – DE Novo Hearings
• We refer to the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) in the last section of the bill.
• The IEA has asked that we move the exact language from the APA into the bill rather than referring to that section of the code, which we agreed to do.
• Their bigger concern here is that hearings are not “fair” at the school district level. They want some legislation that will set out a procedure for selecting hearing officers.
o We told them we did not want to include it in this bill, but if they bring other legislation we will take a look at it.
Update: If they get their legislation written and we agree to it, I think they will stay silent on this bill. If they don’t, I’m not clear if they will remain silent or not but I don’t think we will have complete consensus.
Outcome: The Chair will hold this one until we see the bill from the IEA.

SB1039 – 50% + 1 and Majority Ratification
• Their concern was the requirement to provide proof every year. And, if some school district does not want to require it, why should they be forced to do so.
• As such, we made this language permissive. In other words, we leave this up to local control. If the Board wants to require it, they can. If they don’t want to, then they don’t have to.
Update: We added all the language they requested and they still objected. They brought up a new issue today. That issue is mediation. Our language allows for mediation but only after an impasse. Their argument is that because of the deadlines (June 10 and June 22), there is essentially no time for mediation. They would need to ask for a mediator the first day of negotiations. In order to solve the issue, they wanted the removal of the impasse dates.
Outcome: We declined to remove the dates, so we have no consensus.

SB1040 – Administrative Leave and Reducing Salaries
• We discussed the escrow account again.
• The bigger piece is the ability to reduce salaries. The IEA was under the impression that we were asking for this provision to use AFTER negotiations
were complete. In other words, we would pick and choose individual teachers to reduce salaries. That is NOT the intent. The intent is to reduce DURING negotiations.
Update: We clarified the language on the reduction of teacher’s salaries. The IEA would not agree to the language in reduction in salaries. They indicated that they thought it was “in the wrong place” in the code. It is interesting that for the last 40 years, the language to increase salaries has resided in this section of the code, but now that we are want the ability to decrease salaries, it needs to be in a different part of the code. As
such, we would not consider the escrow account issues.
Outcome: We have no consensus on this bill.

Other legislation

HB65 – FY13 Funding from SCF
This legislation is discussed above but this is the bill that brings back the $30.1 million in funding for FY13 that was lost in the repeal of Students Come First.
Status: We hope to see this bill heard soon. It will likely be heard after some of the collective bargaining bills start moving through the Senate and over to the House.

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 Revenue and Taxation Committee and is headed to the House Floor.

HB84 – 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 Floor and is headed to the Senate.

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 out of the House Education Committee and is on the House Floor.

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 printed in Senate State Affairs but has yet to receive a hearing.

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 Ed Committee and is headed to House Floor.

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 has been printed in Senate Ed and is awaiting a hearing.

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. In addition, the Department of Corrections also has concerns about this legislation
Status: This bill was printed in the Senate Ed Committee and is awaiting a hearing.

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 was printed in the Senate Ed Committee and is awaiting a hearing.

Other ISBA legislation

Resolution # 1 – Funding
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:

Students Come First Repeal and $30.1 million
This legislation has been printed in House Education. HB65 will return these dollars back to school districts in the line items found in the original legislation. We hope it will be heard in the next week or so.

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.

Business Personal Property Tax
This legislation continues to be a topic of discussion in the legislature. We met again with the Governor and other stakeholders. The Tax Commission brought back some information and has been tasked with bringing back some further clarification.

The latest proposal would hold school districts harmless for a very short period of time. It would hold the district harmless until a supplemental levy expires or until a school district refinances their debt in an effort to get a lower interest rate. As you know, levies are only in effect or one or two years. So, at the most, a school district would be held harmless for two years. We have, of course, expressed that this solution is not a reasonable one for school districts and will fight any such proposal.

While we continue to have discussions, we encourage you to be talking with your legislators on the financial impact to your local district if this tax is repealed with no replacement dollars.

Charter School Oversight – Resolution #2
We have been working with the SDE, charter school entities, the Public Charter School Commission, and the IASA on several pieces of legislation that deal with charter schools. We are pleased with most of the suggested amendments but continue to struggle with the issue of charter school facility funding. There are currently three proposed bills – one deals with oversight, one with authorizers, and one with facility funding.
Unfortunately, these bills will come as a package. As usually happens, in order to get the oversight bill we want passed, we are going to need to make concessions on the facility funding.

Whether or not we can find a happy medium on facility funding has yet to be seen. There have been several solutions offered. One includes allowing charter schools to participate in the bonds that school districts pass, another includes setting up an account at the State level that charter schools can access for the guarantee of a loan, and the third includes a stipend to paid at the State level for each student in a charter school. As you can imagine, none of these are particularly pleasing to us. But, we believe that some legislation is going to move forward, so we are trying to be part of the
solution rather than simply objecting.

IDLA Funding – Resolution #4

Even though Superintendent Luna has already made his proposal for IDLA funding, it is my understanding that negotiations continue between the SDE and IDLA on what the funding may look like and the mechanism that will be used to fund IDLA. We remain hopeful that it will be funded at a level that will be good for IDLA and school districts. I hope to have more on this next week.

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 for 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.

Building Requirements for Non-Student Occupied Buildings – Resolution #17 from 2012

The Potlatch school district has decided to pull this legislation at this time. They hope to work with the Division of Building Safety and the Public Works Contractors Licensing Board to see if they can get some buy in. We may see this as a resolution at some future date.

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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