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A school kid in Indiana works at a computer.With the results tallied from Idaho’s 967 precincts, voters clearly said no to Propositions 1, 2 and 3.More than 645,000 votes were cast in each of the Propositions. Each of the propositions failed by at least 15 percent of the vote. Proposition 3, the measure that corresponds to giving each high school student a laptop, failed by the largest margin, with 66 percent of voters rejecting it.Now that voters have weighed in on the trio of election laws that were passed in 2011, it’s up to lawmakers and stakeholders to determine what happens next.BackgroundIn 2011 the Idaho Legislature passed a package of three laws which made sweeping changes to the state’s education system.The laws were introduced and championed by Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna and are known as Students Come First, though opponents call them the Luna Laws.The laws have been controversial in Idaho, with the state’s largest public teacher union, Democrats and some Republicans condemning them. School administrators and boards have been split on their support. Idaho’s second largest school district in Boise has voiced its opposition to the laws.The three laws will be split up into Proposition 1, Proposition 2, and Proposition 3. Here’s a breakdown of what each law contains:Proposition 1Proposition 1 corresponds to 2011’s Senate Bill 1108 and deals with labor relations. A ‘yes’ vote will keep SB 1108 on the books, a ‘no’ vote will repeal the law. Here are the details:District superintendents, school administrators, and teachers get an annual evaluation. At least 50 percent of it must be based on measurable student growth. Teachers’ and principals’ evaluations must include parent input.Teachers and school administrators get one or two year contracts. A category of contracts for experienced teachers that renewed automatically from year to year barring misconduct is eliminated. These renewable contracts will stay in place if signed before 2011.Steps that had to be taken to fire a teacher or not bring him or her back for the next school year are eliminated such as providing a written statement of the reasons for the decision.School districts no longer have to prove a financial emergency before reducing teacher numbers. School boards can reduce teacher numbers at their discretion but cannot consider seniority when deciding who to eliminate.Principals can decide which teachers come to their schools.Teachers are encouraged but not required to purchase liability insurance and districts must provide information about insurance providers.The state’s early retirement incentive program for teachers is eliminated.Local education organizations (labor unions) must represent a majority (more than 50 percent) of a district’s teachers in order to engage in collective bargaining. Unions must prove annually that they represent a majority of a district’s teachers.Contract negotiations can only cover compensation, defined as salary and benefits. Negotiations must be done in public meetings.If a district does not have a union that represents a majority of teachers the school board will set compensation.If no contract agreement is reached through collective bargaining by June 10 of each year, the school board will set compensation.Proposition 2Proposition 2 corresponds to Senate Bill 1110 and institutes a pay-for-performance plan. A ‘yes’ vote will keep SB 1110 on the books, a ‘no’ vote will repeal the law.Bonuses are available for student academic growth measured by statewide standardized tests given each spring. Bonuses would go to all administrators and teachers at a school with a certain amount of improvement in scores.All teachers and administrators at a school could get a bonus if the school’s average score on the spring test is in the top 50 percent of schools statewide.Local school boards will create systems by which teachers and administrators can get bonuses based on other performance measures such as graduation rates, advanced placement classes taken and parental involvement.Teachers can get bonuses for working in hard to fill positions. At least every two years the State Board of Education will determine which positions should be considered ‘hard to fill’ and rank them based on need. Local boards can choose from the state board’s list which positions are hardest to fill in their districts.If a district can’t find a qualified teacher for a hard to fill position it can use some of the bonus money to train a teacher for the position.A district can designate up to 25 percent of its teachers to get bonuses for working extra hours in leadership roles. Those could include activities like peer mentoring, curriculum development, grant writing and earning a “Master Teacher” designation.Proposition 3Proposition 3 corresponds to Senate Bill 1184 and deals with technology and funding. A ‘yes’ vote will keep SB 1184 on the books, a ‘no’ vote will repeal the law.A laptop computer will be provided for all high school teachers and students. That will happen over four years beginning with teachers in fall 2012.As determined by the Idaho Board of Education, students must take two semester-long online classes to graduate.Parents can enroll students in any qualified online course without district permission.High schools will get more money to help pay for the costs of providing more math and science classes to meet new graduation requirements.SB 1184 Creates a formula for allocating money for technology. That includes mobile computers for high school students, wireless broadband service in high schools, and professional development on using technology in class.Creates a formula for allocating money to districts that takes online classes into account.Increases the amount districts can spend to get instruction from other districts or provide virtual education.The Idaho Department of Education will post a fiscal report card for each school district on its website.Each school district must post its annual budget and master labor agreement on its website. That’s in addition to several pieces of financial information districts were already required to post.A district can employ fewer teachers than it gets money for (up to 10 percent starting in 2014) without losing the money it gets for the unfilled positions.Raises the minimum teacher salary by $355 to $30,000 a year.Eliminates a $2,000, five year bonus for “Master Teacher” designation.If a student has completed all graduation requirements by the beginning of her senior year the state will pay for her to take up to 36 college credits while still being registered as a high school student. She can also take college credits in her last semester if she meets graduation requirements by the end of the first semester.Public post-secondary schools in Idaho can operate charter high schools.

Idaho Lawmakers Take Up Gun Rights, Education, State Employee Pay This Week

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Samantha Wright
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Boise State Public Radio

Idaho lawmakers didn’t stop for President’s Day Monday. Gun rights, education and state employee paychecks  are all issues that will come up this week.  Betsy Russell writes the Eye on Boise blog for the Spokesman Review. We caught up with Russell to get her take on how this week will play out at the statehouse. Russell says she's watching the debate over raises for state employees today.

“This afternoon there are two legislators who are asking state employees and other people to come in and just give their comments about state employee pay, working conditions, compensation issues and so on,” says Russell. 

“This is something that the Legislature traditionally did every year during its session in order to determine what they call around here CEC, Change in Employee Compensation, which was something they voted on each year and that’s basically raises for state employees.  Well, they haven’t held these hearings in recent years and they haven’t been giving raises to state employees.

"So two legislators, Rep. Shirley Ringo (D-Moscow) and Rep. Phylis King (D-Boise), decided to hold this hearing on their own.  Rep. Ringo does have legislation in the works. She says that we need to give raises to state employees, whose pay is clearly far below the market levels, according to state-sponsored studies, is the state needs more revenue.  But that would mean tax increases, and those are not very popular around here."

Q. Will we see a bill to repeal the personal property tax?

A. There was some draft legislation released by the Governor’s office last week, lots of talks and negotiations and so forth are underway, it’s very unclear as to when, or even if, we’ll see a specific piece of legislation on that, but that’s very  much in play right now.

Q. The Legislature’s budget committee, JFAC, also known as the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee, is setting budgets this week.  Doesn’t that turn a corner, because lawmakers can’t go home until the budgets are set?

A. That’s right.  That’s a process that takes several weeks. It just starts this week on Tuesday, with setting some of the agency budgets.  Most of the ones that come up this week are not that controversial, but there are some fairly major budgets in there, including the budget for the Department of Environmental Quality.  The issues of state employee pay ties right into that, because before they started setting budgets, JFAC voted on what are the assumptions they’ll have when they build every state budget.  Well, one of those assumptions is that there won’t be raises for state employees unless their proposed on a case-by-case basis in the individual budgets.

Q. Will we see any movement on the seven education bills this week?

A. We are starting to see movement on some of those.  Those bills are beginning to come up for hearings in committees in one House or another and if they clear the committees they’ll be out to the full chambers and so those bills are definitely on the move.

Q. Aren’t those bills controversial?

A. They certainly are.  The House and Senate Education Committees held joint listening sessions, two of them, and one of the three broad themes that emerged from the public testimony was opposition to these very bills, which would revive portions of Proposition 1, having to do with limiting teacher collective bargaining rights.  Now these same measures passed the Legislature in 2011, the voters overturned them last year, and legislators feel strongly, many of them, about bringing them back forward.

Q. There are a couple of bills on gun rights coming up, including one this morning?

A. That’s right.  We saw one introduced just this morning to create a new class of concealed weapons’ permits, a voluntary program that people could participate in that would require a higher level of training and the sponsors believe this might allow holders of Idaho Concealed Weapons’ Permits who opt for that to carry their weapons in others states and perhaps to persuade school districts to allow people with that type of certification to carry guns on school campuses.  These are among the first of what we’re expecting to be a slew of gun rights bills, designed to protect gun rights in the face of national proposals.

Q. From the Obama Administration after the Sandy Hook murders?

A. Right.

Q. What’s going on this week that will interest or affect the lives of Idahoans, who don’t watch the Legislature every day?

A. On Wednesday morning, there’s going to be a public hearing in the Capitol Auditorium at 8:00 a.m.  Both of these are from Sen. Chuck Winder (R-Boise).  One of them states the strong policy of the Idaho Legislature that marijuana shall never be legalized in Idaho for any purpose. 

The other is a non-binding memorial to Congress and the U.S. Department of Justice saying that the Idaho Legislature feels that federal drug laws, with regard to marijuana, should be enforced in all states, including those states that have opted to legalize marijuana.  So it’s actually asking the feds to come into other states and enforce federal laws against the wishes of those states’ voters.  This is a very controversial proposal and we’re expecting quite a hearing in the auditorium, the public is invited to speak.

Copyright 2013 Boise State Public Radio

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