House Education Chairman Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, is praising the work of a bipartisan group of legislators that’s been meeting for three weeks to craft consensus legislation on how to temporarily suspend various state laws to allow cuts in Idaho’s budget for public schools. Nonini’s first proposal on that prompted an outcry, in part because it proposed permanently eliminating Idaho teachers’ continuing contract rights. Nonini said he’s sat in on the group’s meetings, which are being chaired by Rep. Rich Wills, R-Glenns Ferry. They’ve gone on for hours, several times a week for the past three weeks. “Everyone’s willing to spend the time it takes to try to reach some common ground,” Nonini said. “We’re hoping they can complete their work early next week.”
House Speaker Lawerence Denney echoed the praise for the group, which includes Wills, Reps. Mack Shirley, R-Rexburg; Liz Chavez, D-Lewiston; and Donna Pence, D-Gooding. “When things kinda fell down, we asked Rich to kind of head up a group,” Denney said. “I think certainly it’s bringing all the people to the table and giving ‘em a say.” Nonini said the Idaho Education Association, Idaho School Boards Association and Idaho Association of School Administrators also have been represented at the group’s meetings. “They’re integral parts of it,” Nonini said.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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