The House Education Committee on Wednesday introduced a bill allowing school districts to decide whether or not to participate in collective bargaining with the local teachers’ union.

Representative Dorothy Moon, R-Stanley, introduced Bill 174 on Wednesday. Screenshot courtesy of Idaho in Session.

Rep. Dorothy Moon, R-Stanley, pushed Bill 174 with a memorable introduction that succinctly summed up the bill.

Moon said his bill “is popularly referred to as the May-May Bill.”

This is because Moon’s Bill only changes one word in state law. It would amend the existing section of law describing negotiations between educational associations and school districts.

If Moon’s bill passes, the section of the law that says districts and education associations “shall” enter into a bargaining agreement would be amended to say that districts “may” enter into an agreement.

“This legislation would give school boards the flexibility to decide whether to engage in collective bargaining with the local education association,” Moon said.

As it stands, districts and local teachers’ unions meet each spring in a public meeting to negotiate salaries and benefits. Districts are empowered to ask the union or educational association to document that they represent the majority of employees in order to negotiate.

If the bill passes, districts could implement salaries and benefits without having to negotiate or agree with teacher representatives.

Representative Lance Clow (file photo from Idaho Education News)

Although the bill moved forward, the Republican chair and vice-chair of the committee argued that passage of the bill could hurt relations between teachers and school boards. These relationships have been reestablished in the past decade since voters were introduced and ultimately repealed the Students First laws, also dubbed “the Luna laws” for former state superintendent Tom Luna. .

“In many ways my biggest concern is respecting teachers and recognizing morale that this could have an impact,” said House Education Committee Chair Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls. “One of the things about the current situation is I think it brings stability to schools, I think it brings stability to classrooms.”

The Idaho Education Association and a dozen current and retired teachers opposed the bill, while the Idaho Freedom Foundation and some parents supported it.

During the hearing, it became clear that many supporters supported the bill in response to the West Ada Education Association’s request. October sick teacher to protest the district’s plans to offer hybrid classes in person when Ada County was in the highest risk category for the coronavirus. Hundreds of teachers called in sick, and the district school abruptly canceled for two days because he could not find enough substitute teachers to cover the absences.

However, West Ada’s sick leave was not part of union negotiations between the district and the union – the deal was already in place for the year. It is also not clear that passing HB 174 would block a future disease attempt. The West Ada Education Association announced the work stoppage in a virtual meeting of its members, not in collective bargaining or a school board meeting.

HB 174 walks up to the second floor of the house with a recommendation that he passes.

Petit on failed preschool grant proposal: “we’ll try again”

Governor Brad Little said he was “disappointed” that the House killed a $ 6 million federal grant for preschool on Tuesday, but Little said he was not deterred from his preschool push.

“The evidence is overwhelming that what we do early on for these kids is good for Idaho and good for our students, and we’ll try again,” Little told reporters at an annual Idaho breakfast. Press Club.

The slain house Bill 226, who would have granted the State Board of Education permission to spend the federal grant money in partnership with the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children.

Conservative Republicans have attacked the program out of fear that the Idaho AEYC and its national affiliate, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, will attempt to indoctrinate young children with a “social justice ideology.” Idaho AEYC director Beth Oppenheimer and the sponsors of HB 226 said these concerns were unfounded.

“This grant is 100% for local control,” said Representative Paul Amador, the Republican of Coeur d’Alene who sponsored the bill.

On Wednesday morning, Little said he had not spoken with the State Council about alternative plans to secure federal funding. He noted that the request may not have been completely ruled out: “We will work in the Legislature to try to address their concerns. “

Supporters of the preschool education program are scheduled to hold a “Stand Up for Idaho Women” rally at the Statehouse on Wednesday afternoon.

The pending school gun bill

The Senate State Affairs Committee put a school gun bill on hold on Wednesday.

The committee held Senate Bill 1135, which would rework state law that allows employees to carry firearms on school property, with permission from local school commissioners.

Among the changes proposed in SB 1135: Employees who carry firearms should have an enhanced Concealed Carry Permit and receive “continuing education” as directed by directors.

While Senate Affairs held SB 1135 on Wednesday, it could still return later in the session, said Idaho School Administrators Association executive director Andy Grover, the project sponsor. of law.

SB 1135 is one of two school firearms bills submitted to the legislature. Bill 122, sponsored by Representative Chad Christensen, R-Iona, would allow employees with enhanced concealed carry permits to bring a firearm onto school property, with or without permission administrators. The House State Affairs Committee did not hold a hearing on this bill.

The loan repayment bill dies

A divided Senate education committee killed a bill that would have created a student loan repayment program for rural teachers.

An attempt to address chronic teacher shortages in Idaho, Senate Bill 1117 would have enabled rural teachers to obtain financial aid for a period of up to four years, provided they continue to work in the same district. About 8,000 teachers would have been eligible for the program, which would potentially cost taxpayers $ 1 million per year.

Senate Education killed the bill by a 5-4 vote.

The bill for repayment of the loan was co-sponsored by two Democratic lawmakers: Senator Janie Ward-Engelking, a retired teacher from Boise; and Representative Sally Toone, a teacher from Gooding. Ward-Engelking and Toone have proposed similar rural teacher retention bills in previous sessions.

Idaho Education News reporter Sami Edge contributed to this report.

Idaho Education News remotely covered Wednesday’s hearings.

You may also be interested in