The final piece of Superintendent Tom Luna’s public schools reform package was introduced by the Senate State Affairs Committee Friday, ending weeks of speculation as to what the bill would contain.
The introduction took less than 10 minutes but might have given observers some idea of how much opposition the measure could face moving forward through the Senate. Republican Majority Leader Bart Davis of Idaho Falls told the bill’s sponsor, Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, that though he would vote to introduce the measure, he would not support the measure going forward.
Davis’ opposition didn’t seem to faze Goedde, who told reporters he believes the new measure will have enough support to clear the Senate.
The new bill is less technologically-centered than the previous one, but laptops for teachers and students are still a major component of the plan. The legislation would provide training for teachers to help them find innovative and efficient ways to integrate technology into classrooms. A task force would also be created to study the implementation of technology and the panel would be required to report to the Legislature at the beginning of the 2012 session.
Also stripped from the old bill is a change to funding formulas determining class sizes. Goedde told reporters following the meeting that the new legislation would give more discretion to districts to deal with smaller appropriations in future years. That means local school boards would determine how to best manage teacher numbers.
As for online classes, the Coeur d’Alene Republican explained the new bill would give authority to the Idaho State Board of Education to determine how to utilize them in coming years.
Starting teacher pay would be increased by about $450 to around $30,000. One portion of the salary grid, the table that determines how teachers are paid, would be restored.
The new legislation replaces Senate Bill 1113, which cleared the Senate Education Committee but was called back due to stakeholder concerns about some of the provisions contained in the measure. Though the bill was introduced by the Senate State Affairs Committee, it will head back to the Senate Education Committee for deliberations.
The Idaho Department of Education has created a table showing the differences between the new and old bills, which can be seen here.