As the elected leaders of each individual school district, school board members have a statutory, legal, and fiduciary duty to oversee the finances and management of the school district. The Idaho School Boards Association (ISBA), at the direction of the local trustees, will be pursuing and/or supporting several pieces of legislation during the 2013 legislative session that will enhance their ability to be good stewards of the scarce taxpayer’s dollars.
First and foremost, we will pursue and/or support legislation that will replace funding that has been removed because of the budget reductions of the past few years as well as the funding lost because of the failure of the Students Come First legislation. Our economy is making a slow turn for the better and it is important that K-12 public schools and the personnel they employ begin to regain some of the lost ground from the last few years.
Secondly, we will pursue legislation that codifies good public policies for open and orderly negotiations. That includes items like holding all negotiations in open session, requiring that the local education organization (LEO) provide proof
that they represent 50 percent plus 1 of the professional employees in the district, and proving that the membership of the LEO has ratified any agreement. If approved, this will allow local patrons to view all negotiations and to be assured that ratification will only occur when properly acted upon.
Lastly, we will pursue legislation that will allow for the long term, prudent fiscal management of each school district. Those items include the local school board’s ability to operate under the terms of the district’s final offer to the
LEO should no agreement be reached; to provide for one year negotiated agreements in order to adequately budget for each fiscal year, to have the ability to manage salaries of all personnel depending upon the district’s funding; and to increase the maximum length of term for a supplemental levy from two to three years. Other items that will give school board members the tools they need to adequately and sufficiently manage their districts are to allow for other measures beyond seniority when considering reductions in
force; to provide that if an employee appeals a decision to the district court, that the district court can only affirm, set aside, or remand the matter back to the school board; and to allow the school board to place an employee on unpaid administrative leave if the employee is incarcerated, or if there is a court order that does not allow the employee to be in the presence of minors and/or any other adult employed by the district.
It is also important to note what ISBA will not be pursuing. We heard the complaints and concerns of the Idaho Education Association (IEA) and the members of their association. They consistently stated they wanted to have
the ability to negotiate items beyond salaries and benefits —items like class size and student safety. They were also concerned with the loss of continuing contracts. The trustees heard those concerns and they listened. The trustees
understand and appreciate the employees in their districts. As such, the ISBA will not be pursuing any legislation on either of those topics.
These legislative measures are items the ISBA, on behalf of the locally elected trustees, has long pursued. The ISBA has consistently held that local governance closest to the student is what is best. We believe the legislation we will pursue this session will do just that.
2012-2013 Executive Board Members signed off on the above opinion piece:
President: Anne Ritter, Meridian Joint School District
President-Elect: Todd Wells, Castleford Joint School District
Vice President: David Andersen, Oneida County School District
Immediate Past President: Dallas Clinger, American Falls Joint School District
Region 1 Chair: Melanie Staples, Boundary County School District
Region 1 Vice Chair: Archie McGregor, St. Maries Joint School District
Region 2 Chair: John Menter, Troy School District
Region 2 Vice Chair: Rodney Krogh, Kamiah Joint School District
Region 3 Chair: Lori Bennett, Bruneau/Grand View Joint School District
Region 3 Vice Chair: Juan (Mike) Vuittonet, Meridian School District
Region 4 Chair: Dane Higdem, Kimberly School District
Region 4 Vice Chair: Lisa Knudson, Castleford Joint School District
Region 5 Chair: Janie Gebhardt, Pocatello School District
Region 5 Vice Chair: James Stoor, Soda Springs Joint School District
Region 6 Chair: Lisa Burtenshaw, Idaho Falls School District
Region 6 Vice Chair: Nancy Arnold, Teton County School District
Region 7 Chair: Deb Foster, South Lemhi School District
Region 7 Vice Chair: Shannon Johnson, Salmon School District
Region 8 Chair: Marg Chipman, Weiser School District
Region 8 Vice Chair: Barbara Dixon, Meadows Valley School District